Over the years I have come to respect and deeply value the journey of Holy Week that involves daily worship and the observance of the Triduum Sacrum, the sacred three days, encompassing a single service that begins on Thursday evening, first in light and then in darkness, continues through Good Friday’s long service of prayer and meditation, and culminates in the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening that starts in the dark and ends in the triumphant light of the Resurrection.
Although it is a long standing custom in our denomination, and locally in our parish, there are relatively few who fully participate, and who can blame them. The services are long, some of them two or three hours. They come at inconvenient times. The symbolism involved is rich but complex and not easy to understand. Although the three day service of the Triduum, that begins with the Last Supper and ends with the Resurrection, is broken up by long stretches of hours for ordinary life and leisure, it is still something of an endurance run, but worth every minute of it.
That first “Alleluia, Christ is Risen”, shouted out in a dark church following an hour or more of scripture and prayer just shakes one’s soul to its deepest roots. Then, in a thunder of bells and music, the candles are lit, the lights blaze, and the church is illuminated in all its Easter finery. Alleluias are cried out, Easter hymns are sung and the Eucharist celebrated. No matter how beautiful or extravagant the Sunday morning services may be, they are simply anticlimactic in comparison.
I always feel a bit sorry for those who know only the hymns, flowers and celebration of Easter Sunday morning because I think they have missed out on almost everything. If that’s all there is it can be, perhaps, a bit too easy to forget Easter Sunday morning almost as soon as the eggs are found, the chocolate bunny decapitated, and the ham served.
It is all but impossible to forget a Holy Week observed, or to deny that it has some deep ontological meaning to the rest of life that begins afresh on Monday. I commend to your reading Sunrise Sister at Mindsieve who says it all much better than I.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!