In the Catholic Church, we celebrate the entire Triduum and not just Easter Sunday. The USCCB describes this as “the summit of the Liturgical Year.” The triduum lasts “from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.”
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. That is to say, we remember the Last Supper, the Passover, that Jesus celebrated in the Upper Room with His disciples in which He instituted the Eucharist that we celebrate every Sunday. On Good Friday, we remember the Lord’s Passion and death on the Cross. After sunset on Holy Saturday, we celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass. During this Mass, we welcome new members to the Church through the sacraments of initiation and honor the night that Christ won victory over the grave. All of this culminating in the highest, most joyous day in the Christian year, Easter Sunday. Over these three days in one, we experience every possible human emotion from deepest sorrow to greatest elation. It is honestly my favorite time to be Catholic.
This is my choir at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. And it may just be my favorite song that we sing during the entirety of Holy Week.
When you’re in the church choir, Holy Week is quite the vocal marathon. By the time we sing this song during the offertory at the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, we’ve already sung for Palm Sunday, a practice, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and about 10 songs already that night. We’re bordering on exhaustion, but singing with all the enthusiasm and elation our adrenaline and faith can muster. And every year, when we get to the third and final verse, I just about fall apart.
Three days our world was broken and in an instant healed, God’s covenant of mercy in mystery revealed. Two thousand years are one day in God’s eternal sight, and yesterday’s sorrows are this day’s delight. Though still Christ’s body suffers, pierced daily by the sword, yet death has no dominion: the risen Christ is Lord! (Lyrics by M.D. Ridge)
God’s Covenant of Mercy
Mercy and mystery, intertwined. Death and life. Loss and redemption. The life of sin we lead saved forever by His willingness to give his life on a cross. My earthly mind can not wrap itself around that concept. I can’t “figure it out” no matter how hard I try. But every Sunday at Mass, every year through the beauty of Holy Week, I am reminded to have faith. Where my mind can’t travel, my heart goes in faith. And I am humbled.
Yesterday’s Sorrows, This Day’s Delight
If we hadn’t miscarried early in our second pregnancy, we wouldn’t have our son Josh. If we hadn’t lost our fourth pregnancy, we wouldn’t have our daughter Leah. How could I possibly have known, in those times of such deep grief, that joy could come from loss? When hatred and violence seem to be the order of the day in our fallen world, can we be true to our faith and trust that better days are coming? That beauty can rise from the ashes in God’s own perfect time?
Yet Death Has No Dominion
I have sung this song within weeks of my Grandmother’s death, shortly after a miscarriage, and right around the due date of a baby we lost. I’ve sung it while a friend was dying of cancer and when we should’ve been looking forward to my godson’s first Easter instead of mourning his death. And each time, the words of the song ring true. Because of Easter, death no longer reigns. Christ Himself conquered it and we, the Easter People, know that death, although it grieves us terribly, is only part of the story.
The other night at rehearsal, as we were singing this verse, I had a flash across my mind’s eye. It was one that my family and I have often discussed. Oh so briefly, I had a vision of this heavenly nursery. My grandmothers in rocking chairs, Jesus playing on the floor, and all of the babies we’ve lost being held and loved and played with so sweetly. My whole body was instantly covered with goosebumps. And though my eyes filled with tears and my voice struggled to sing, I smiled.
As we head into our time of remembering and celebrating the three days that changed the course of human history, friends, know that I will be praying for you. I will keep all of your intentions close to my heart and I pray that you will have a meaningful and holy encounter with the Risen Lord this Easter. Remember, dear friend, you are loved. Beyond time, beyond mystery, beyond death, beyond pain. You are loved.
Feature Photo credit: Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash