The Sacred Three Days (The Holy Triduum) at Holy Trinity, Horfield
The heart of Christian Faith is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We see in Jesus the full glory of God’s own life and the full development of human dignity. Every story in the Gospels adds to this fullness; the events we commemorate during Holy Week bring us to the heart of the story. What we see requires a response. It is quite possible to look at Jesus and find nothing to attract us or even reason to scoff. It is possible to find something compelling, and still to turn away. There are those who follow, if only at a distance, and there are, in every generation, those who can stand by the cross and who will arrive early at the Empty Tomb. Our salvation was wrought upon the Cross. Holy Week exposes us to the story of our salvation each year, and requires a response.
The Sacred Three Days is the climax of the year in terms of Anglican worship. The ceremonies and liturgy of the Sacred Triduum are the most ancient Christian acts of worship known to us. Our observance of Lent ends by our entering the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection over Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The three days are all part of one great and mystical service: we are invited to journey to the Cross and beyond.
This year, with the challenges of the Covid-19 virus and the need to protect the health and well-being of all, we shall have to pray the liturgy of The Sacred Three Days in a different way, but pray it we will. Outline below is what normally happens:
On the evening of Maundy Thursday, we commemorate Jesus’ great act of loving service, when he washed the feet of his disciples as a sign that we must serve each other in love. We repeat that act, share the Lord’s Supper and solemnly take the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and spend the rest of the night in silent watchful prayer.
Good Friday prayerfully recalls the supreme sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and we use the most ancient prayers known to the Christian church at the Liturgy of the Passion, during which, the choir sing the Good Friday Reproaches to an ancient and traditional setting.
On Holy Saturday evening, the new fire is blessed; the tall Easter candle lit and carried into a darkened church – the symbol of risen Christ shining amidst the darkness of our lives. It is a moving and ancient liturgy (the oldest known to the church based on the travel notes of St Justin, the Martyr in the first century A.D.) The Resurrection is proclaimed by the singing of the ancient prayer – Exsultet. We listen to the story of our salvation told in the holy scriptures; we proclaim the Gospel of the resurrection and re-new our baptismal promises. Then we obey the Lord’s command and break bread, pour wine and remember he is with us for all time. After the first Mass of Easter, we celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection as a parish with fireworks and fizz.
This year, I shall offer a simplified liturgy of The Holy Triduum from the rectory (as the archbishops have instructed). It will still be prayerful and a response in faith to our deep longing to know we our loved by God, who is love and came to suffer among us to reveal the depth of such love that we might do the same. I shall publish a recording of each stage of the liturgy on our new YouTube channel – the link on which to click your cursor will be sent out by Maggie and is, also, at the end of this letter.
You are warmly invited to make a spiritual pilgrimage at Holy Trinity during the three most holy days in the church’s year as we pray the most ancient prayers known to the church and to celebrate together the reason for our faith.