14 things for your kids to spot during Triduum
Technically, Triduum spans three days—from the evening of Holy Thursday until the evening of Easter
Sunday—but liturgically, it is “one day,” one long celebration of the Paschal Mystery.
Triduum culminates in the Easter Vigil, which is the high point of the entire liturgical year.
As with the Sunday liturgy, reviewing what will happen at the liturgy in advance is a good way to help your kids participate with understanding and reverence. Use the lists below to give your kids a heads up before going to church—and challenge them to notice each item during the service.
8 things for your kids to look for at church on Holy Thursday
1. Reception of the Holy Oils. Before Mass begins, you might participate in a short ritual to receive the holy oils blessed by the bishop during the Chrism Mass. These oils—the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the holy Chrism—will be used by the parish in the sacraments of Anointing, Confirmation, and Baptism throughout the year.
2. Focus on the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Point out to your kids that it is at this Mass that we remember in a special way the night that Jesus gave us the Eucharist. You can read the Gospel in advance, perhaps during your family meal.
3. Washing of the feet. The Gospel of John recalls how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example of the sort of charity and service they should practice in his name; in this way, the Gospel intimately links the Eucharist with service. Your parish may or may not include a washing of the feet ritual. In some parishes, the priest washes the feet of twelve individuals representing the twelve apostles; in other places, parishioners wash one another’s feet as a reminder of our baptismal call to imitate Jesus’ example.
4. Gifts for the poor. The Church has traditionally collected gifts for the poor on this day. Your parish might have a special collection, or collect your CRS rice bowl donations.
5. “Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.” You may sing this ancient hymn during the washing of the feet or the collection for the poor; the words mean, “Where true charity is, there is God.”
6. Transfer of the Eucharist. In most places, after communion, the Eucharist is transferred to a closed tabernacle or pyx in another specially prepared place, where it is reserved until the Good Friday service. Typically, the Blessed Sacrament is carried through the church in a procession while the hymn “Pange lingua” is sung.
7. Stripping of the altar. After Mass, the altar cloths will be stripped, and any crosses in the church may be covered with a red or purple veil.
8. Eucharistic adoration. When the procession bearing the Blessed Sacrament reaches the place where it will be reserved, the assembly is encouraged to remain in the place for some time in prayerful adoration.
6 things for your kids to look for at church on Good Friday
Many families have difficulty getting to church on Good Friday, but if you are able to attend, give your kids a
heads up about what to expect:
1. No Liturgy of the Eucharist. Although you will probably receive the Eucharist, the consecrated hosts are those reserved from Holy Thursday. It is an ancient practice of the church to not celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Good Friday.
2. A silent beginning. The service begins without music or singing; the atmosphere is one of sadness and grieving for the sins of humanity and the suffering and death of Christ.
3. The prostration of the priest. Notice that the priest prostrates himself before the altar, a sign of the grieving of the Church and the abasement of man.
4. Solemn intercessions. On Good Friday, the whole Church prays the Solemn Intercessions, an expanded form of the prayers of intercession signifying that Christ died for the whole world. (Can your kids remember which groups are mentioned specifically in the intentions?)
5. Veneration of the cross. During the veneration of the cross, the assembly is invited to approach the cross and offer some form of veneration—kneeling in prayer, kissing the wood of the cross, etc. We venerate the cross because this instrument of suffering and death was transformed by the blood of Christ into the means of our salvation.
6. Stripping of the altar. The altar is stripped bare at the end of the service, and everyone leaves in reverent silence.