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The Triduum and 40 Days ^ | 04-20-06 | by Fr. William Saunders

Posted on 04/20/2006 7:55:14 AM PDT by Salvation

by Fr. William Saunders

Other Articles by Fr. William Saunders
The Triduum and 40 Days

Is the Triduum part of Lent? When I count the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, I find that it only turns out to be 40 if we count the Triduum and do not count the six Sundays during that period. I know that the date of Ash Wednesday was specifically selected to produce a 40-day Lent. So aren’t the three days of the Triduum really part of Lent?

Here is one time when the “straight answer” is not going to be clearly “straight.” As stated in the question, Lent does begin on Ash Wednesday and is a special 40-day preparation for the celebration of Easter. Also as stated in the question, the “40-day” calculation begins with Ash Wednesday, excludes the Sundays of Lent and ends on Holy Saturday.

The 40-day period of Lent has a long-standing tradition in our Church, especially after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. The Council of Nicea (325), in its disciplinary Canons, noted that two provincial synods should be held each year, “one before the forty days of Lent.” St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) in his series of “Festal Letters” also noted the practices and duration of Lent, emphasizing the 40-day period of fasting. Finally, Pope St. Leo (d. 461) preached that the faithful must “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the forty days,” again noting the apostolic origins of Lent. One can safely conclude that by the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and this period ended at Easter.

The “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” of Vatican Council II stated, “The two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent — the recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and penance — should be given greater emphasis in the liturgy and in liturgical catechesis. It is by means of them that the Church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they hear God’s word more frequently and devote more time to prayer” (No. 109). The Council emphasized, “But the paschal fast must be kept sacred. It should be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday, and where possible should be prolonged throughout Holy Saturday so that the faithful may attain the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection with uplifted and responsive minds (No. 110). This instruction seems to indicate that the Lenten preparation period of prayer, fasting and penance continues up through the first Mass of Easter, the Easter Vigil.

However with the liturgical renewal initiated by Vatican Council II, the celebration of the Holy Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter — was also examined. Keep in mind that Pope Pius XII actually began this exercise and in 1951 restored the Easter Vigil to its proper place. The individual liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil are not seen simply as marking isolated events, but really they are seen together as one saving mystery. For this reason, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday does not end with a final blessing; rather, that blessing is given at the conclusion of the Easter Vigil. In his beautiful encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, our beloved late Pope John Paul II wrote:

By the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Church was born and set out upon the pathways of the world, yet a decisive moment in her taking shape was certainly the institution of the Eucharist in the Upper Room. Her foundation and wellspring is the whole Triduum paschale, but this is as it were gathered up, foreshadowed and "concentrated" forever in the gift of the Eucharist. In this gift Jesus Christ entrusted to His church the perennial making-present of the pascal mystery. With it He brought about a mysterious "oneness in time" between the Triduum and the passage of the centuries. (No. 5)
One could make the argument, therefore, that Lent ends with the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Triduum; however, one would also be left with a less than 40-day Lent, which contradicts long-standing tradition.

So where does that leave us? Perhaps, here is where tradition carries the greatest weight. As stated above, the Second Vatican Council reminded us to keep the paschal fast throughout Lent until the Easter Vigil, the first Mass of Easter. Nevertheless, we must also celebrate the Triduum really as one saving event which allows us to live in the ever-present reality of our Lord’s Last Supper, Ppassion, death and Resurrection. The Triduum is an even more intensive time of preparation for Easter and brings Lent to its climax.

Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and a professor of catechetics and theology at Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria. If you enjoy reading Fr. Saunders's work, his new book entitled Straight Answers (400 pages) is available at the Pauline Book and Media Center of Arlington, Virginia (703/549-3806).

(This article courtesy of the
Arlington Catholic Herald.)

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Islam; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Other non-Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: 40days; eastervigil; goodfriday; holysaturday; holythursday; lent; triduum
For your reference
1 posted on 04/20/2006 7:55:20 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 04/20/2006 7:59:17 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

From a strictly liturgical perspective (i.e. The Order of the Divine Office and the Proper Elements of the Mass), there exist official Latin terms to distinguish the "general" liturgical seasons and the "specific" seasons within them. So, in English, the term Lent can mean the entire 40 days as stated above, or it can be narrowed to mean the liturgical subset of days within the overall 40 days. The Latin has different terms to distinguish this which English does not. For example,

Tempus Quadragesimale = The Overall 40 Day Period known as Lent in English

Tempus Quadragesimae = The Period of Liturgical Time beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on the Saturday before Passion Sunday

Tempus Passionis = Passiontide (The Final Two Weeks of overall Lent). And then, within this is the subset of Holy Week, and within Holy Week is the subset of the Holy Triduum.

The same distinctions also apply during Easter Time.

Tempus Paschalis = The Entire 50 Day Period extending through to and inclusive of Pentecost.

Tempus Paschatis = The first 40 Days between Easter and the Ascension.

In English, Paschal Time can be used to refer to both.

3 posted on 04/20/2006 8:40:26 AM PDT by jrny
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To: Salvation
BUMP! We discussed this at class yesterday and the order of reading at Mass and the Papacy!


I am looking forward to a first day off from work in many months and going to spend it Praying in the small room at the Adoration, hope it is still there Friday...with all the learning in class I forgot to ask...have to call the Church today and ask...

Catechism of the Catholic Church Bump.

We are already getting ahead of ourselves and thinking about keeping a study group together after we all receive the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation next year....Prayers up please, for our lil class.
4 posted on 04/20/2006 10:00:03 AM PDT by Global2010
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To: Global2010

At lot of churches do have a class following their adult baptisms. It's called a neophyte class. (A class for newly baptized.)

5 posted on 04/20/2006 10:04:08 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

I'm a little confused what the Triduum is. Is it Holy Thurs,, Good Friday and Holy Sat? Or is it Holy Thurs, Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

6 posted on 04/20/2006 8:29:04 PM PDT by virgil
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