The word “Triduum” comes from a Latin root that means “three days.” It is pronounced “TRIH-doo-uhm” and is usually used in reference to the Easter Triduum, the three most sacred days in the church year. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil, and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. Often there is confusion about how that block of time can be counted as three days. The traditional Jewish practice of counting days from sunset to sunset is used during the Triduum. Thus, Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday evening is the first day, Good Friday evening to Holy Saturday evening is the second day, and Holy Saturday evening to Sunday evening is the third day. After centuries of neglect, Pope Pius XII in 1955 restored the Triduum liturgies to their rightful place as the culmination of the entire liturgical year.

Although we talk of the three days, our Triduum prayer is best understood as one liturgy in three interlocking movements. The death and resurrection of the Lord cannot be separated. The meaning of these days is distorted when we imagine that the liturgy re-enacts the final events in the life of Jesus in a sort of historical review. We miss the point in that case. The mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a present reality; the boundaries of time, and the boundaries of death, have no power here.

This painting was made by a confirmation candidate, Noelle Wong, when I asked her to paint her vision of the Triduum. This watercolor image evokes the power and love of the paschal mystery. Our past, present and future are irrevocably marked by our own immersion into this mystery through baptism.

Holy Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper

On Holy Thursday, we wash one another’s feet, as Jesus did for his apostles at the Last Supper centuries ago. Jesus gave us the Mandatum (Latin for mandate), the command to daily wash one another’s feet. We wash and we pray, serve in kindness, forgive eagerly, and show thanksgiving for all that is good and holy. 

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

On Good Friday, we reverence the cross, saying, “Behold, behold the wood of the cross….” Each of us reaches to touch the cross which held our salvation, our Lord Jesus the Christ!!

Easter Vigil of our Lord’s Resurrection

We light fires in the night and proclaim the stories of our salvation with an awed awareness that this is what it means to be baptized, to be strengthened by the Spirit, and to savor the Body of Christ.

  • Journey through the gates of Jerusalem
  • Experience the upper room as the first Eucharist is prayed
  • Travel to Gethsemane, to the Praetorium, up the torturous walk to Calvary.
  • Keep vigil at the tomb.
  • Watch as Christ’s light is brought to us. Share that light with others.
  • Listen as the Exsultet is sung.
  • Feel the word of God proclaimed.
  • Sing the Gloria and joyful alleluias.
  • Allow the waters of baptism to penetrate.
  • Smell the chrism.
  • Offer your hearts.
  • Remember the passion and death. Celebrate the resurrection.
  • Taste the goodness of the Lord.
  • Surround yourself with the body of Christ.

We gather as a family to celebrate our greatest family festival — the event that defines who we are — an Easter people! A people who know that death no longer holds dominion over our lives. Our forty days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving lead us to the Triduum—beyond its history, into its mystery.

Holy Family Church Skip to content