St. James has been holding various educational evenings during Lent, and on recommendation I came to the Triduum lectures with Father David Pettingill. He is quite a dynamic speaker, and can quote scripture easily from memory. Here are a few highlights!
Are we listening?
Many times we have seen the classic scenario: a hostile reporter badgers someone with useless questions causing us to shake our heads with disbelief. I remember the classic scene in The Prisoner during the election when Number 6’s “no comment” responses were turned into three pages of erroneous copy by the enthusiastic press of The Village. Sometimes we like to do the same thing with God. We “interview” him wanting a certain response, but he gives a completely different one that we don’t want to accept. How often have we written our own copy instead of listening?
Often we will start thinking about, “if only I were taller” or “if only I were better at languages” which is a common state for humans to find themselves in. Dwelling in that manner is not a healthy exercise and denies our personal incarnation. It is community which will help—when we realize that we work together, not necessarily as individuals. The High Holy Days help bring us together in that manner.
Catholic (and Anglican!) Coma
If you have been in a liturgical church for a while, you might have seen examples of this. People will spout off the words without bothering to think about them or even notice what is really going on. Example: elderly woman collapses in her pew and the pastor quickly shouts “someone call an ambulance!” and the congregation responds “and also with you.” This is extremely common and very disturbing. One of the purposes of the High Holy Days is to find the joy and excitement of the faith again.
Not an Exhibit
The Triduum is not about walking through a dust-covered exhibit to “remind” us of what Jesus went through. It is supposed to be an exciting community event. They should be turning the Church into an active body of believers, equipping them to do something positive and practical. It cannot be done alone, because where 2-3 are gathered there Christ will fully be.
Children of God
All during the week we can hear damaging notions of who we are from the media, culture and even sadly our own family. Each Sunday comes as a reminder that we are precious children of God. How much more in the Triduum?
It is easy to become isolationists in the modern world, but it is key to remember that the gathering of community was so important to early Christians that they risked death to meet!
This refers to three days which are all one Mass. In Jewish custom, a day begins at sunset (unlike maritime when it begins at noon, or landlubbers who begin it at midnight) so it lasts from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Sunday. You know it has begun when you cannot tell a white thread from black in the dark.
Jesus goes to God and comes back to us as our brother. He is everything God plans for us to be, and gives us the Holy Spirit to help us become a true child of God.
Fasting = No to me, Yes to others
If you feel a distance between yourself and God, a fast can help with that, but do not do it when you feel close to him—that is a time of feasting. Although, fasting is our choice now, rather than being dictated, so take the time to make that choice!
Life Before Liturgy
Words have no meaning without purpose and true belief behind them. If something is not really happening, words will not make it happen. An example would be marriage: first two people relate to each other, then there is the ritual of marriage to fulfill that. The ritual does not create the relationship. We are all God’s family, so some of us are a bit of a mess, but can live again through helping each other. The Triduum is a good way to bring us closer together through healing, forgiveness, and equipping each other.
The Otherness of God
Lent, the Triduum, and Easter is a time of renewal, not just Jesus and one person off on their own. God is a trinity—He himself is in a relationship/family. We too are called to relate in a community, rather than just by ourselves. We often hear of helping the stranger, or giving alms, which is a reminds us to change our perspective of people who seem, on the outside, to be different. Let the person you might react to as being “different” be Christ in a way, by representing the otherness of God within our love for Him. It can become our transfiguration when we transform and renew our mind about “strangers”. You may discover the answer to prayer in other people that you did not expect it to come from.
– A family dinner can be a type of sacrament
– God does not love based on performance
– Parents are an important model of love
– Triduum is an explosion of joy
– Breaking the ‘mold’ of religion through human interaction
– Suffering can create a bond between us
– Vulnerable moments are crucial to connect as a community
Part II coming soon if I have next Monday night off work!