As the news reporter was kind enough to remind me, yesterday was the first day of Holy Week in the Christian church. Catholics have three special services; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil Saturday night. We like the number three. Maybe I read too much into it – OK, likely I do – but to me each part illustrates a different part of the Christian mystery of life. Holy Thursday Mass, with the washing of feet and readings on the Lord’s Supper, is about community. The Good Friday Passion is about suffering. The Vigil, as part of Easter Sunday, is about redemption.
One of the more interesting things I do is ask persons about their part of the triduum. The answers correlate strongly with their visions of Christianity. People that talk about the Vigil tend to be triumphant and authoritarian and positive. Good Friday people stress struggle and suffering and pain. Holy Thursday people, the smallest group, speak of community and service and action. People are not Good or Bad Christians based on their responses; all three parts matter, and different people naturally have different preferences. It just illuminates.
It shouldn’t be too hard to guess that I think the Good Friday service is most important, and Easter Vigil the least. Isn’t it obvious? This year, I’m going to try to focus on the fulfillment of the promise through Sunday morning, even looking for an outdoor sunrise Catholic service. So, what about it – community, suffering, or redemption?