In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Blessed Holy Week, Fr. Paul! Thank you for everything. 

Growing up, I was taught that the Triduum is one liturgy. I have not found any sources that have ever taught this nor do I see them as one liturgy since they appear as distinct liturgies in the Roman Missal. If the Triduum is one liturgy, then wouldn’t that mean you would have to attend Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil to truly participate in the Triduum? I have a friend who believes one must attend all the liturgies to participate in the Triduum. 

Could you help clarify this? I see the Triduum more so as celebrating the saving event of the Paschal Mystery, which consists of distinct parts, but thinking someone teaching the Triduum is one liturgy is a bit of a stretch. Thank you!


A: I agree with you, much to the dismay of many of my colleagues in the field of liturgy.

I’ve never seen an official declaration that the Triduum is one liturgy. When the revised rituals came out after the Council, some people noticed that Holy Thursday ended without a dismissal, Good Friday opened without a greeting and closed without a dismissal, and the Vigil opened without the sign of the cross. That made it look like one long liturgy.

Well, the third edition of the Missal added the sign of the cross.

When you account for the Liturgy of the Hours, which retains its crosses, blessings and dismissals, I find it a stretch to think that the three Triduum liturgies are really one. Each has its own beauty, and each is satisfying in itself, but each has its full effect on those who participate in all three.