Once again, we come to the most holy time in the Christian year – what Catholics refer to as the Triduum (Latin for “three days,” or, as my Aunt used to call it, “The Great Three Days.”). Generally, however, these are the days that are less known. Yes, everyone’s heard of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, but few are also familiar with Holy Saturday (or the Easter Vigil), unless one subscribes to the older traditions of the Church. I know I’ve said it before, but when I was growing up as a child, as a Lutheran we knew little of anything liturgical for Holy Saturday. It just didn’t exist. We walked out of a darkened church on Friday night after a Lutheran-ish type of Tenebrae (“Darkness”) service, then walked into a brightly, energetically, musically, and floralistically decorated church on Easter Sunday morning with nothing in between. It was as if the story stopped for a commercial break, and I didn’t get back to my seat in time. I was happy when I found traditional Catholic liturgy where that missing segment was filled in.

Since those days, I’ve always looked forward to Holy Week and the solemnity of the Triduum. When I had my own parish and had to do everything by myself, it was very hard work (especially while having to work full time to support myself; but that’s entirely other story), and when I joined with the incredibly devoted parishioners at S Clement’s Church Philadelphia (of which, today, only a very few remain) before it liturgically went belly up, it was still very hard work, but enjoyable because of how it all related to my spiritual and prayer life. Yes, there was the pomp and circumstance of the changing of the vestments, the processions, the incense, the fire, the stripping of the altars, the music, the lighting, and everything else each day at the mass, but beyond that there was the quiet times of reflection, the silent prayers, and the thoughts on what happend long ago that still effects us today.

Will Hubby and I be celebrating the Triduum this year as we have in the past? Sadly, no. That outlet is no longer available to us since last year when it was demolished for others’ selfish pigheaded personal reasons; but we move on. Our religion may have been taken from us, but not our faith. Religion is an outward sign; a binding, of such, that others can see. But Faith is something unseen that comes from God; that comes from within. And its something that cannot be taken away by another. It is that Faith that I will be leaning on heavily this year.

Though there will be no Tenebrae services this week at S Clement’s, at least I can say them at home (strangely, the clergy don’t seem to be interested in it much these years and have surreptitiously cancelled it in the hopes that no one would find out. Odd how religion gets in the way of some catholic clergy’s lives…). Though there is no place where I can go for traditional Holy Week (or even just Triduum) liturgy, at least there’s a good place where I can get a dose of real Religion on Easter Sunday.

I wish you all a very holy, blessed, and happy Holy Week and Easter. May your blessings be many.

Palm Sunday Procession

A Palm Sunday procession through the streets of the Italian Market, Philadelphia