The Holy Week 'Hinge': the Pascal Triduum

This Holy Week, try to attend the Liturgies of the Sacred Paschal Triduum if you can.

Holy Thursday Mass will be livestreamed from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy at 7:30 p.m.

The Good Friday service will be livestreamed from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy at 3 p.m.

By Br. Stephen J., MIC

Every year, Catholics and many of our fellow Christians celebrate the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter, a season of fasting followed by a season of feasting. The "hinge" between these two seasons is Holy Week, particularly its end: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. These three days are so important that they are treated liturgically as one single day: the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

The word “triduum” is a fusion of the Latin words for “three days” (tria + dies), rather as the fusion of tria and unitas (“three + unity”) makes the new word “Trinity.” This similarity is no coincidence. The word “Trinity” was invented by theologians to express a new way of knowing the three Persons as one God. Similarly, the word “triduum” was invented by liturgists for this unique three-day liturgical expression of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection, which transcends the natural boundaries of day and night.

Re-presentation of Gospel passages
We cherish the last moments of a good man who is dying. We desire to live forever with those whom we love. Our last memories of them, therefore, endure in our hearts. This motivated the Gospel writers’ careful account of the Last Supper, and of Jesus’ Passion and death. It also motivates the careful re-presentation of those Gospel passages in the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum.

In washing His disciples’ feet on Holy Thursday, March 28, Jesus commissioned them in a new priesthood; in Holy Communion, He initiated their ritual sacrifice. His last words fell from the Cross on Good Friday, March 29, and with them, His last breath. The bare altar, stripped of its garments on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, stands for the naked Christ. The tabernacle, empty of His Real Presence in the Eucharist, signifies the missing Christ.

Some churches hold a special Tenebrae service during Holy Week (from the Latin word tenebrae, which means “darkness”), in which readings from Scripture (and sometimes the saints) alternate with psalms or sacred songs to lead our hearts through the Passion with Christ.

Easter fire
Had His nakedness been the end, had Jesus remained missing, His Church, too, would have remained thus: bare, empty, and dark. Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). There would simply be no Christianity if Christ were not raised from the dead.

But a secret fire was kindled in the earth, like the fire of the Easter Vigil, March 30, which lights every worshiper’s candle. For in rising from the dead, Jesus has given us faith. This realization makes the celebration of Easter Sunday, March 31, and every Sunday, so much the more joyful. The Alleluia that the Western Church buries on Ash Wednesday is once again intoned before the Gospel, and Easter joy abounds, all the sweeter for following the Lenten time of mourning.

Saint Faustina’s last Easter celebration testifies to the powerful effects of a deep participation in the Liturgy. She writes that she was “drawn into the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity, and … immersed in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1670).

So this Holy Week, try to attend the Liturgies of the Sacred Paschal Triduum if you can, livestreamed here. To participate in the Church’s full celebration of the Paschal Mystery is one of the best ways to celebrate Easter. This might be a good time to make a special pilgrimage to a basilica, shrine, or even a nearby parish where you’ve heard that the Liturgy is good. 

However the Lord leads you to participate liturgically, may the Paschal Mystery sink deep into your heart during this Sacred Triduum, and kindle within you the fire of His Divine Love!


Catholic News Agency shares the details of how to receive plenary indulgences during Holy Week:

A plenary indulgence is a grace granted by the Catholic Church through the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary and all the saints to remove the temporal punishment due to sin. The indulgence applies to sins already forgiven. A plenary indulgence cleanses the soul as if the person had just been baptized.A plenary indulgence can be obtained during Holy Week for oneself or for a deceased person if one of the following works established by the Church is performed.

Holy Thursday - March 28, 2024

1. If during the solemn reservation of the Blessed Sacrament (typically on a side altar), which follows the Mass of the Lord's Supper, you recite or sing the Eucharistic hymn “Tantum Ergo.”
2. If you adore the solemnly reserved Blessed Sacrament for a half hour.

Good Friday - March 29, 2024

1. If you venerate the Cross in the solemn celebration of the Lord's Passion.
2. If you piously participate in the Stations of the Cross

Holy Saturday - March 30, 2024

1. If two or more people pray the Holy Rosary.
2. If you attend the celebration of the Easter Vigil at night and renew your baptismal promises, which is part of the liturgy of that Mass.

Conditions in all cases:

In order to obtain the plenary indulgence, in addition to performing the specific works mentioned above, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

1. Detachment from all sin, even venial.
2. Sacramental confession, Holy Communion and prayer for the intentions of the pope. These three conditions can be fulfilled a few days before or after performing the works to gain the indulgence, but it is appropriate that Communion and the prayer take place on the same day that the work is completed.

A single sacramental confession is sufficient for several plenary indulgences, but frequent sacramental confession is encouraged in order to obtain the grace of deeper conversion and purity of heart. For each plenary indulgence that is sought, however, a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father are required. The prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father is left up to the choice of the individual, but an Our Father and Hail May are suggested.

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