Observing the Christian Calendar: The Paschal Triduum and Easter

Christian Calendar

As we continue on in our brief survey of the seasons of the Christian calendar, we move this week to the season of The Paschal Triduum and the season of Easter.

The Paschal Triduum (Healed in the Dying)

 The forty days of Lent prepare us for inhabiting the three days of Pascha.

 Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday make up The Paschal Triduum which beings at sundown on the Thursday just prior to Easter.  The name comes from the Hebrew pesach, or “Passover” and the associated color is black for death and mourning.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the night on which Jesus first said, “Take eat, this is my body….  Drink this, all of you, this is my blood –“ the night He was handed over to suffering and death.  The word Maundy probably comes from the Latin mandatum (novum mandatum) for the “new commandment” that Jesus gave His disciples on this night (John 13:34).

The second day of The Paschal Triduum is Good Friday.  This name is thought to come from an earlier name for the day – “God’s Friday.”  The day has been traditionally observed through a fast of the eyes and/or a fast of the ears.

Holy Saturday is also referred to as Silent Saturday, representing the silence of the tomb.

Easter (A Season of Joy; Heartened in the Rising)

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection; the reason Christians worship on Sundays.  It is a celebratory season full of joy.  As with Christmas, Easter is both a day and a season.  Unknown to many, there are actually fifty days in the season of Easter.  Isn’t it fitting that Easter should last longer than Lent, that the feasting should exceed the fasting?

Consider the reality of Easter – Christ risen, death defeated, sins forgiven, evil overcome, no consequences.  The reality of Easter is so incredible; beyond believable!  No wonder Easter needs a season.  It takes a season to celebrate this earth-shaking, mind-blowing, life-altering, cosmos-shattering event.

At Easter the symbolic color changes from the black of The Paschal Triduum to white for purity and joy.  The white is often embellished with gold to indicate royalty and triumph.

Consider the following ideas when planning your observance of The Paschal Triduum and Easter.

The Paschal Triduum – Make provision for spiritual engagement with God.

  • Consider a no-fire fast during the triduum (a reminder that the Light has gone out of the world).

Maundy Thursday

  • Spend time alone each day reading, meditating, and praying.
  • Engage in a Journey to the Cross or Way of the Cross, a series of stations representing particular moments in the Passion of Christ.

Good Friday

  • If possible, take the day off work.
  • Meditate on the Seven Last Words. Or choose just one to meditate on throughout the day.

Holy Saturday (Also called Silent Saturday, representing the silence of the tomb.)

  • Keep it a quiet day.
  • Read/explore the Apostle’s Creed.
  • Bake Easter Cookies.

Easter –The celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Easter Sunday

  • Make it festive.
  • Take a predawn walk. Watch the sun rise.  Contemplate the amazing reality of resurrection and feel the incredible joy and wonder of Easter.
  • Greet family, friends, and people at church with, “Christ is risen!” (“He is risen indeed!”)
  • On Easter Day and through the Easter season, go crazy with flowers in your home.
  • Light a white candle during your Easter meal.
  • Before church on Easter morning, read one of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection and maybe 1 Corinthians 15 or Romans 8.
  • Play joyous music in your home on Easter morning.

Easter Season

  • Host a different group of friends for dinner each week during the season.
  • Go to lunch with a group of fellow worshipers after church each Sunday of Easter.
  • Possibly allow yourself some culinary treats that you normally limit in your diet.
  • Ask Jesus to renew one part of your “self” over the weeks of Easter
    • less doubt and more faith,
    • less procrastination and more discipline,
    • less irritability and more patience,
    • less lying and more honesty,
    • less indulgence and more generosity. Our hearts are transformed over time.  God causes the growth.  (John 15:5)
  • Consider incorporating visual or tangible symbols into your observance:
    • Place a simple, painted wooden egg or other symbol in a place you will see each morning while dressing.
    • Designate a spot in your home for displaying small prints or photographs that represent the current season.
    • Place fresh flowers on a table through the season of new life.
    • Get outdoors into the resurgence of the spring landscape.

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord – Forty days after Easter, always celebrated on a Thursday

  • Take some time in retreat.
  • Invite a small group of friends for dinner to celebrate the completion of Christ’s work on our behalf.
  • Meditate on the exaltation of Christ to glory.

Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, The Paschal Triduum, and Easter — we have one season remaining, Ordinary Time.  Before we take a look at it, however, we will take a break next week.  For those who have made the decision to observe the Christian calendar this coming year, next week’s post will be dedicated to offering some links and suggestions associated with the celebrating of Advent.  Hopefully, this will save you some time and effort as we enter the busy holiday season.

If you are thinking about observing Advent this year, come back next week and take a look!

soli deo gloria,

 

For further reading:

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross (InterVarsityPress)

The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year by Kimberlee Conway Ireton (InterVarsityPress)

Celebrating the Christian Year: Building Family Traditions around All the Major Christian Holidays by Martha Zimmerman (Bethany House Publishers)