Tomorrow we begin the Triduum, the great celebration, and the climax of the Christian year. We’ve spent 40 days preparing for this great feast, and our very beings are quivering with anticipation of the joy and feast to come.
Or, at least, they’re supposed to. But for many of us, Lent is a time that we aren’t sure how to approach, what to do, or how to make the most of it. Even if we choose something “good” to give up, we often fail, and when Easter rolls around it’s hard to see how we’ve prepared for the great feast when we slipped up and had chocolate 20 minutes ago.
Rather than go into an exegesis on the nature of Lent, I want to offer a few ideas on how we can redeem our Lent this Holy Week, and make of ourselves a fitting offering to the Lord this Easter Sunday.
- Immerse Yourself in Liturgy.
There are many great liturgical celebrations during Holy Week. For example, one of the lesser known traditions is Tenebrae. Celebrated on Wednesday night (tonight!), it is meant to encapsulate the darkness surrounding Holy Week and the Passion of Our Lord. If your parish or a local parish hosts a Tenebrae service, consider attending tonight, and allow that to prepare you for the Triduum to begin tomorrow.With that, immerse yourself in the Triduum. Technically, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are all one celebration. They are not three unique liturgies, and are therefore considered only one day in the liturgical year. Try to go to all three services. You’ll love the continuity and how it ties your Holy Week together!
Traditionally, the Good Friday fast was carried through until the Easter Vigil (or Easter morning, depending on what service you go to). Consider embracing this tradition. Refrain from meat on Saturday, and eat only one regular meal and two small meals that together do not equal the regular meal on Saturday as well as Friday. If you want to get really gung-ho, you could do a Triduum-long fast: abstain from meat today until Easter Sunday, refrain from snacks between meals, or drink only water until Easter Sunday.
- Embrace Silence.
To keep the somber solemnity of Holy Week, consider adding a new level of silence to your day. Turn off the radio. Keep silence during the three o’clock hour on Wednesday and Thursday and from noon to 3 pm on Friday in remembrance of our Lord’s death on the cross. Refrain from unnecessary talking on Saturday, out of reverence for our Lord’s death. Abstain from watching TV in the evening. Instead, take the time to pray the Stations of the Cross or do some spiritual reading or mental prayer.
- Embrace Austerity.
Since it is the Lord, the Bridegroom, who brings all joy and all good things, embrace a new level of austerity for the next few days. Cover beautiful objects – specifically holy ones – in your home with purple cloth. Take cold showers, and eat simply in preparation for the feast of Easter Sunday.
The celebration of Holy Week can do amazing things to prepare our souls for the grace and celebration of Easter Sunday. I hope these ideas help to make the most of this time in the Liturgical year and truly allow us to embrace the joy of Easter!