Getting From Point A to Point B
Although it may be hard to believe, we are about to enter into an incredible journey together. This week we will celebrate Ash Wednesday, aka: point A, and begin our travels through Lent toward our destination, point B, the holiest season of the year: the Triduum. The word “triduum” simply means “three days” but these particular three days are the pinnacle of our faith: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Resurrection of the Lord. Hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself, first we need to plan the trip…
I love to travel and planning the trip is a big part of the fun for me, anticipating the places we’ll go and the things we’ll experience is very exciting and I find that I enjoy the trip a lot more when I know where I’m headed. Lent should be no different. For starters, we need to know where we are going and that is made pretty obvious to us throughout the Lenten season in various prayers of the Mass. From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday we repeatedly hear about preparing for the Paschal Mystery. So, what is the Paschal Mystery? Simply put, the Paschal Mystery is Christ’s redemptive work in His Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. These works of the Lord, together, make up the Paschal Mystery and our participation in that same work is our goal, our point B, at the end of our Lenten journey.
There’s no spiritual GPS, no Google maps for the soul, so how do I map out this extraordinary trip? At first glance it might seem easy. After all, we make this same journey every year, right? I should know the route like the back of my hand. In some respects, that’s true. We do know what the trip entails: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Those things never change, but the route by which I travel through them can and should change each year (if you’re looking for a good aid in getting the most out of the journey, I’d recommend A Devotional Journey Into the Easter Mystery by Christopher Carstens). Who I am today is not the same as who I was last Lent. My relationship with Jesus, His Church, and others has changed, hopefully for the better but maybe not…and so how I approach this season should reflect that and, because my faith journey is not the same as yours, I also can’t tell you how to map out your trip – sorry! What I can say is to enter into this time with the goal in mind: participation in the mystery.
I invite you to participate in the Liturgy of the Triduum. If you’ve never been to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or to the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, these are powerful encounters with our Lord that draw us deeper into His Mystery, but they aren’t days of obligation so many of us never go to them and so we miss out on a great opportunity to join with our Lord in the final hours of His journey.
As for the Easter Vigil, celebrated the night before Easter Sunday, I can’t say enough about the beauty of this Mass. Yes, it’s long, usually about two and a half hours. Yes, it’s late, usually beginning about 8:45 p.m. or so. Yes, it’s the holiest night of the year and, according to the USCCB website:
“The rubrics of the Missale Romanum remind us that this “mother of all vigils” is the “greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church” (Missale Romanum, “Rubrics for the Easter Vigil” (EV), no.2). On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting his return in glory. It is the turning point of the Triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ’s passage from death to life.”
If you’ve never been to the Easter Vigil, consider making this the final stop for your point B. It’s worth the drive!