This season is the most holy of all the seasons in the Church year.It begins with Palm Sunday and concludes with what is known as the Sacred Triduum or Easter Triduum.
Churches around the world will be filled with people this week as the days of Holy Week and Easter are observed. Some call Holy Week “the week that changed the world”. Rich pageantry, stark simplicity and solemn rites mark the journey of the faithful with Christ through his passion, death and resurrection.
Many find the unique services a time to invite people to attend church with them, as these can be effective ways of sharing the faith in a poignant way.
The last three days of Holy Week are called the Sacred Triduum, the three holy days. We can look at this period from three perspectives: These days bring to a climax and conclusion our preparation for Easter. The season of Lent has pointed us in this direction. Now we enter the Holy of Holies so to speak – where Christ our great high priest offers himself on the cross for sinful humanity. They begin on Thursday evening with Maundy Thursday (from mandatum novum do vobis) which means, “a new commandment I give to you,” where dramatic readings and song remind us of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus with his disciples, the stripping of the altar for with Good Friday and the meditations of the Stations of the Cross, the Easter Vigil and Easter Day.
These three days are already a part of Easter; for there is an inseparable union between the death of Christ and his resurrection. The two together constitute the Paschal Mystery. This is the Christian Passover, when our Lord passed over from death to life, and through his victory he overcame death and the grave. Therefore, we pass from Holy Week to Easter Week with no noticeable break. Elements of Easter can be found in each of the parts of the Sacred Triduum. The image of the cross is not forgotten in the Easter celebration.
These three days may, nevertheless, be regarded as a unit in themselves, a true triduum or trilogy, a three-part drama showing forth Christ’s redemptive work. This is in keeping with the tradition of the Apostolic Church, where the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus were always remembered together.