The Easter Triduum is a single celebration, spread out over three days. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper takes place on the evening of Holy Thursday. It is followed by Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion. The Triduum culminates with the Easter Vigil, which cannot begin until after sunset on Holy Saturday.
To me, the Triduum feels somewhat like a family reunion. When my wife and I moved our family across the country, we found a surrogate family in our fellow parishioners at St. Finbar Church. We repeated the process when we moved to Knoxville and joined All Saints Church. I like the big celebrations because I see people from different parts of the parish. Some of the attendees are regulars at the 8:15 Sunday Mass. Others are on the Adult Social committee or the Kids Helping Kids Fun Walk committee.
Each part of the Triduum has something that I especially love. The Easter Vigil includes the Litany of Saints. On Good Friday, the choir sings “Jesus, the Lord” during the Veneration of the Cross. On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper ends with the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to an altar of repose. At our parish in Burbank, the choir sang an amazing Taizé piece called “Stay with Me” every year.
While all three nights are great, I do slightly favor the Holy Thursday service. This year, Cardinal Justin Rigali was the main celebrant for Holy Thursday at All Saints Church. His homily helped me realize what I like about Holy Thursday. He said it commemorates the night Jesus 1) established the Mass; 2) established the priesthood and 3) set the example of humble servitude by washing the feet of his apostles.
The apostles accepted Jesus’ instructions to “do this in memory” of Him. They became the first priests and they began the tradition of re-enacting the Lord’s Supper at every Mass, which we still do today.