The solemn observation of the Paschal Triduum, the three most sacred days of the Church’s liturgical year, begins on Holy Thursday, April 13, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. During the Triduum (Latin for “three days”), the Church enters more deeply into the great mysteries of our redemption: the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ that has destroyed our death and restored our life. The Paschal Triduum, which solemnly celebrates these sacred mysteries of God’s love for us, is the culmination of the entire liturgical year and can be considered one great liturgy that takes place over three days.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated on Holy Thursday, and this first movement of the Triduum marks the occasion on which Christ gave us his Body and Blood in the Eucharist, as well as the gift of the priesthood, and the mandatum — his commandment to love and to serve others. At the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, the Pontifical Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper will begin at 5:30 p.m. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will be the principal celebrant.
At the start of the liturgy, the tabernacle is entirely empty according to the Church’s ancient tradition, and a sufficient amount of bread is consecrated on this evening for the Holy Communion of those gathered and for those who will gather on Good Friday. Christ’s commandment to love others is exemplified in the rite of the Washing of Feet, which reenacts Christ washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. Following this Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is transferred to the place of repose. The faithful are encouraged to spend some time in quiet prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament following the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
On Good Friday, April 14, and the following day (up to the Easter Vigil), the Church does not celebrate the sacraments at all, except for Penance and Anointing of the Sick. Good Friday is also a day of fast and abstinence.
At the Cathedral, Morning Prayer for Good Friday will be at 8 a.m. The Commemoration of the Passion and Death of the Lord celebrated by Bishop Bambera will begin at 12:10 p.m.
The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on this day consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross, and Holy Communion. During this second movement of the Paschal Triduum, the Passion according to John is proclaimed and the Solemn Intercessions are voiced for all people, including those who do not believe in Christ and those who do not believe in God, for no one can be excluded from the redeeming power of Christ’s sacrifice. Through the Adoration of the Holy Cross, the faithful reverence the instrument of torture and death that became the instrument of our salvation and new life. Following the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Church continues to pray and to reflect on the death of the Lord. The Stations of the Cross will be prayed at 5 p.m.
Holy Saturday, April 15, is the day that the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer, meditating on his passion, death and his descent among the dead, and awaiting his resurrection. Morning Prayer will be at 8 a.m. at the Cathedral, followed by a retreat for those preparing to be brought into full communion with the Catholic Church and to receive the Easter Sacraments. The blessing of Easter Baskets will take place at 1 p.m. in the Cathedral.
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night is the greatest of all solemnities in the Church and is the center of the Paschal Triduum. Bishop Bambera will be the principal celebrant and homilist of the Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral, beginning at 8 p.m.
This third movement of the Triduum is arranged in four parts: the Lucernarium (a service of light) in which the new Easter fire is blessed and the paschal candle is prepared, followed by the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet); the Liturgy of the Word, in which the Church meditates on its own salvation history, trusting in God’s word and promise; the Liturgy of Baptism and Confirmation in which new members of the Church are reborn and baptismal promises of current members are renewed; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in which the Church celebrates the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection until he comes again.
Also on this night, 189 people who have journeyed through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process will become fully initiated Catholics by the celebration of their Baptism, Confirmation, and the reception of the Eucharist. This will take place during the Easter Vigil celebrated in parishes throughout the Diocese. They join tens of thousands of other individuals throughout the world who will become members of the Church that night.
Finally, the Paschal Triduum concludes with Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous day in the liturgical year. This joy overflows into the Easter season, which leads to the celebration of Christ’s Ascension into glory and culminates in his sending forth of the Holy Spirit upon the Church at Pentecost. Bishop Bambera will celebrate a Pontifical Mass on April 16 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral. Additional Masses during the day will be at 6:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
Since Christ accomplished his work of human redemption and offers perfect worship to the Father through his Paschal Mystery, the Sacred Paschal Triduum shines forth as the high point of the entire liturgical year, and the 50 days of Easter are to be celebrated with joy and exultation for Christ has won the victory over sin and death.
CTV Airing Holy Week Services
Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton (CTV) will provide live coverage of the Paschal Triduum services from St. Peter’s Cathedral:
- Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m.
- Good Friday service commemorating the Lord’s Passion on April 14 at 12:10 p.m.
- Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, April 15, at 8 p.m.
CTV will also carry EWTN’s coverage of the following services from Rome and Washington, D.C.:
SOLEMN MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER FROM ROME with Pope Francis, Thursday, April 13, live at 12 p.m.; encores on Thursday, April 13, at 11:30 p.m. and Friday, April 14, at 12 a.m.
CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S PASSION FROM ROME with Pope Francis, Saturday, April 15, live at 12 a.m.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS FROM ROME Pope Francis presides over The Stations of the Cross, from the Coliseum in Rome, on Friday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m.; encore on Saturday, April 15, at 5:30 a.m.
LITURGY OF THE LORD’S PASSION from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 14, at 2:30 p.m.
EASTER VIGIL MASS FROM ROME with Pope Francis, Saturday, April 15, live at 2:30 p.m.; encore on Sunday, April 16, at 12 a.m.
SOLEMN MASS OF EASTER FROM ROME with Pope Francis, Sunday April 16, live at 4 a.m.; encore at 7 p.m.
EASTER SUNDAY MASS from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 16, at 12 p.m.
‘URBI ET ORBI’ — EASTER MESSAGE AND BLESSING from St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Pope Francis gives the traditional Easter message and blessing, Urbi et Orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world), on Sunday, April 16, live at 6 a.m.; encores on Sunday, April 16, at 6 p.m. and Monday, April 17, at 3:30 a.m.