Tonight, Catholics across the world celebrate the end of Lent and begin the Sacred Paschal Triduum leading up to the Mass of the Resurrection. The Triduum, as it often shortened to, is a very special time in the Church, full of signs, symbols, and traditions of our Church. For example, Good Friday is the ONLY day of the year where Mass is not celebrated, representing the absence of Jesus from the world at his death. On the Easter Vigil, the Church welcomes those who are entering our Church with Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.
This year, St. Thomas More will be welcoming six (with Christians of other denominations entering the following Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday). Today, two important things happen during Mass. First, the priest, like Jesu, will wash the feet of his followers. This year, Father decided that the six who will have their feet washed will be those actively discerning the priesthood and consecrated life. Just as the disciples answered “Come, follow me,” those discerning religious life do the same, actively discerning what God’s will in their life may be. Finally, the Eucharist is removed from the Church and the altar is completely stripped, while Psalm 22 is chanted (though this is not required). This is another symbol of Christ’s death. As the person who has been chosen to chant Psalm 22, i am deeply humbled, as Psalm 22 was likely recited by Christ in his Passion (cf. Mt. 27:46, Mk. 15:34). Below is the text of the Psalm
2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you far from saving me,
so far from my words of anguish?
3 O my God, I call by day and you do not answer;
I call by night and I find no reprieve.
4 Yet you, O God, are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
5 In you our forebears put their trust;
they trusted and you set them free.
6 When they cried to you, they escaped;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
7 But I am a worm and no man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
8 All who see me deride me;
they curl their lips, they toss their heads:
9 “He trusted in the LORD, let him save him;
let him release him, for in him he delights.”
10 Yes, it was you who took me from the womb,
entrusted me to my mother’s breast.
11 To you I was committed from birth;
from my mother’s womb, you have been my God.
12 Stay not far from me;
trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
13 Many bulls have surrounded me,
fierce bulls of Bashan close me in.
14 Against me they open wide their mouths,
like a lion, rending and roaring.
15 Like water I am poured out,
disjointed are all my bones.
My heart has become like wax,
it is melted within my breast.
16 Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws.
You lay me in the dust of death.
17 For dogs have surrounded me;
a band of the wicked besets me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet;
18 I can count every one of my bones.
They stare at me and gloat.
19 They divide my clothing among them,
they cast lots for my robe.
20 But you, O LORD, do not stay afar off;
my strength, make haste to help me!
21 Rescue my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of the dog.
22 Save my life from the jaws of the lion,
my poor soul from the horns of wild bulls.
23 I will tell of your name to my kin,
and praise you in the midst of the assembly;
24 “You who fear the LORD, give him praise;
all descendants of Jacob, give him glory;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel.
25 For he has never despised
nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
From him he has not hidden his face,
but he heard him whenever he cried.”
26 You are my praise in the great assembly.
My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
27 The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the LORD, those who seek him.
May their hearts live on forever and ever!
28 All the earth shall remember and return to the LORD,
all families of the nations worship before him,
29 for the kingdom is the LORD’s, he is ruler of the nations.
30 They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.
31 And my soul shall live for him, my descendants serve him.
They shall tell of the LORD to generations yet to come,
32 declare his saving justice to peoples yet unborn:
“These are the things the LORD has done.”
The Triduum is so rich in spiritual gifts. I highly recommend, whether you are Catholic or non-Catholic, to be filled with the joy and mourning of Christ and check out the Triduum.