Following a meeting of the PCC Standing Committee for St Andrew’s we agreed to re-open for worship in Holy Week, taking every possible care to make this as safe as possible. Various elements of the Sacred Triduum which usually involve close proximity or touch will be omitted, for example there will be no washing of feet at the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday will not include kissing or touching the cross.
Service Times for the Triduum Sacrum
Maundy Thursday, 1st April 7pm: Mass of the Last Supper followed by the Watch of the Passion until 9pm
Good Friday, 2nd April, 2pm (at St Mary de Castro Church LE1 5WH, NOT at St Andrew’s): Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion
Easter Sunday, 4th April, 10.30am: Solemn Mass of the Resurrection of Our Lord
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Having prepared during the penitential season of Lent for the Easter Feast, the last three days before Easter are very special: they are known as the Sacred Triduum (the three Holy Days). In these three days the church worships continuously (at least in theory).
The service starts on Maundy Thursday evening with the celebration of the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist and the re-enacting of the serving nature of Christ the King in the washing of the disciples’ feet. After staying with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (answering Jesus’ question: Could you not watch with me for one hour?) we interrupt the service and have a rest.
However, the service of Maundy Thursday has no proper ending; it continues on Good Friday as we join with Our Lord in the hour of his crucifixion and death. As our gathering on Good Friday is a continuation of the service begun the night before, it has neither a formal beginning nor a formal ending.
Holy Saturday (which is the Saturday in Holy Week, the day before Easter, Easter Saturday is Saturday in Easter Week) not much happens – the tabernacle is empty, no candles are lit in church. Our Lord has died, ‘he descended into hell’, we wait. Possibly Holy Saturday is even more meaningful this year with the endless waiting in lockdown than in other years.
The Easter Vigil is the final part of the Sacred Triduum. Again, we begin without formally beginning to worship – after having rested from worshipping we continue the main service of the Christian year begun three days ago.
This service combines the ‘waiting’ of the Church in Vigil, the greeting of the Risen Christ, our rising to new life in him in Baptism, our answer to Christ’s call through Confirmation and the first Eucharist of Easter concluding the worship of the past three days. Following this ‘worship marathon’ all of us deserve something to make the celebration tangible: usually the Easter Vigil would be followed by a hearty breakfast (or some celebratory beverage).
However, as we are still at dangerous levels of Covid infection, things will be significantly toned down this year. We omit the Easter Vigil and celebrate elements of it on Easter Sunday morning and services in general are abridged, simplified and obviously socially distanced.
I am delighted that Bishop Peter Fox (former Bishop of Papua New Guinea and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Leicester) has agreed to be with us for Holy Week and Easter next year in 2022 and I hope that our celebration then will make up for whatever has been amiss in 2020 and 2021.