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The Easter Triduum is the culmination of the liturgical year, during which we celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ -- his Passion, death, and resurrection. It is a celebration of the core of our belief as Catholics: that through Christ’s sacrifice, he opened the door to eternal life for all of us. Although a three-day period, the Triduum is treated, liturgically, as a single celebration, beginning the evening of Holy Thursday and concluding with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, during which we recall the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples. Holy Thursday is a celebration of Christ’s gift of the Eucharist, his true body and blood, and the gift of the Mass to the Church. It is also a celebration of the institution of the priesthood, and it is a reminder of our call to service. During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we hear an account of Jesus washing the feet of his chosen twelve and his call for them to go and do the same for others.
On Good Friday, we recall Christ’s passion and death. It is the only day of the Church calendar on which Mass is not celebrated. Instead, we gather quietly to pray, both for ourselves and those around us; to listen to Scripture; and to venerate the cross. Good Friday is a time to reflect on our own sinfulness and need for repentance, and it is a day in which, amid the sorrow, we show our appreciation for Christ’s loving sacrifice. Good Friday is a day of both fast and abstinence.
The Easter Vigil Mass is the culmination of the Sacred Triduum. The Missale Romanum reminds us that the Easter Vigil is the "mother of all vigils," the "greatest and most noble of all solemnities." The Vigil begins in darkness, signifying the darkness of the world in the absence of Christ. This is why the Mass must begin after sundown. During the Mass, the paschal candle is blessed and lit, a symbol of the light of Christ. That light then spreads throughout the church. During Easter Vigil Masses around the world, thousands are baptized and received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! The Easter Sunday Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord is celebrated with great joy and music. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!” The tomb is empty, death has been conquered for all time. We renew our baptismal promises and celebrate the life that comes with believing in the Risen Lord!