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An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time

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An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
Despite the stay-at-home restrictions aimed at minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, the Sint-Kwinten’s faith community celebrated three sober but very intense Triduum liturgies.
 
With only five participants present in the Church but many more connected through the live stream of the liturgies, we were able to form a virtual fellowship so that everyone at home, whether alone or as a family, could participate actively in the Easter Triduum under these unprecedented and unexpected circumstances.
 
Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
 
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which opened with the song Ubi Caritas et Amor (Where Charity and Love Prevail), made us reflect above all on the place of the Upper Room in our lives.
 
An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
 
The Gospel reading once again accentuated serving others. While the Foot Washing Ritual was omitted this year because of the pandemic, we focused even more attentively on Jesus’ act of sacrificial servanthood at the Last Supper:
 
“So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” (John: 13: 3-5).
 
An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
 
In his homily Fr. Bosco emphasized the central place of the cenacle, which he called the second most important place after Golgotha in the events of Holy Week. Here, alongside the institution of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood, Jesus’ new commandment of love was also placed at the center.
 
An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
 
This year the celebration did not end with Eucharistic Adoration, as is customary, but closed with the reading of a Gospel passage:
 
“Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not undergo the test.’ After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done’” (Luke 22: 39-42).
 
Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
 
This solemn liturgy was even more sober than it usually is, reaching to the very depths of the heart of the attentive participant.
 
An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
 
The silence was broken by the readings from Scripture:
 
“He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53, 3-7).
 
An extraordinary Triduum in an extraordinary time
 
Listening to the narrative of the Lord’s Passion according to John, we were able to follow along with Jesus the Way he had gone for us and for our salvation, until his death on the cross.
 
 
During the simple veneration of the cross, the cross was shown to us while singing: “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.” Because of the restrictions, only the priest venerated the cross.
 
 
The Solemn Intercessions included a special intercession for all those affected by the coronavirus pandemic:
 
Let us pray also for all those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic,
that God the Father may grant health to the sick,
strength to those who care for them, comfort to families
and salvation to all the victims who have died.
 
 
Almighty ever-living God,
only support of our human weakness,
look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition of your children
who suffer because of this pandemic;
relieve the pain of the sick,
give strength to those who care for them,
welcome into your peace those who have died
and, throughout this time of tribulation,
grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil
 
Ordinarily, the Easter Vigil starts with the lighting of a fire outside the church. This year our pared-down celebration began simply with the lighting of the Paschal Candle, a rich symbol of our faith while singing “Light of Christ”. May this Light also shine today in the darkness that often surrounds us through restrictions, anxiety, sickness, and death.
 
 
A cantor then sung the Exsultet, or Easter Proclamation. Among the many beautiful verses we heard:
 
This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.
 
 
The role of Mary Magdalene in the Easter story was highlighted in the homily. “Mary went to the tomb expecting to see something sad, a place of loss, a place of death. But to her surprise she saw an empty tomb… Jesus first appeared to a woman because women have the quality of sharing all the good things they have, all the good things they hear. Mary immediately went to announce the good news. This is a call to all women to tell the story of the Resurrection to everyone you can. People have time now. Use your mobile phones, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp to tell the story. It was when Jesus addressed Mary with her name that her eyes really opened and she saw her resurrected Lord.”
 
The participants then renewed their baptismal vows and continued to celebrate the Eucharist together.
 
 
This year, connected with each other in an extraordinary way, we had the opportunity to proclaim together, with subdued joy:
Christ is risen.
Alleluia, alleluia!
He is truly risen.
Alleluia, alleluia!
 
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
 
For the first time, it was quiet in the church during the highest Feast, the holiest day of the year, Easter Sunday.
 
 
Throughout the morning, people stopped by to pray in silence, including families with children. From 11:45 until noon the bells were rung, as they were in churches throughout Belgium so that everyone could hear: life is stronger than death, light is stronger than darkness.
 
 
Jesus lives and shares his life with all those who want to follow him on his Way and to share his friendship with all people of goodwill.
 

Happy Easter!