With the Sacred Triduum culminating the celebration of Holy Week, the Church shifts gears to solemnly celebrate the greatest mystery of our redemption – the memorial of our Lord – who was crucified, was buried and who rose victoriously over sin and death. Traditionally a paschal fast is kept on the Friday of the Lord’s Passion and prolonged through the day of Holy Saturday until the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated on Maundy Thursday and marks a change in tone in liturgy. The Gloria in excelsis is sung and the bells are rung. When the Gloria in excelsis comes to a close, the bells remain silent, as with the music of the Church until when the Gloria in excelsis is next sung at the Easter Vigil.

This Mass celebrates Christ’s Institution of the Eucharist and the Institution of the Priesthood. In normal times, the Church washes the feet of the members of the Body of Christ as Jesus did at the Last Supper (John 14:1-17).

After the Prayer for Communion, the Blessed Sacrament is then brought out in Procession of the Worship Hall to a place of repose. On this day, the church’s tabernacle is emptied of Christ’s Body and His Body is placed momentarily in a place of honour. This signifies Christ’s own walk as He carries the Cross to His Crucifixion, and signifies a time of silence when the Body of Jesus awaits His resurrection.

Traditionally the holy water founts around the church are also emptied in anticipation of the New Waters of Easter.

The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

On the afternoon of Good Friday, traditionally at three o’clock in the afternoon to correspond with the hour of the Lord’s death, the Passion of our Lord is celebrated. As there is no consecration of the Eucharist on that day, the Good Friday’s service comprises of the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and the receiving of the Eucharist that had previously been consecrated on Maundy Thursday and had been kept in repose.

Good Friday marks the Church in mourning. Christ has been taken away from us. No music is to be played and at the beginning of the service, the priest and the ministers prostrate themselves in front of an altar that has been stripped bare. Accordingly, no sacraments except the Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Penance are to be celebrated.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is a time of silence as the Church waits at the tomb of the Lord with prayer and fasting. The Faithful is encouraged to meditate upon Jesus’ Passion and Death, and His descent into hell. In this silence, the Church abstains from the celebration of the Sacrifice of Mass, with the altar laid bare, until after the solemn Vigil.

With the anticipation of the Night of the Resurrection, the paschal joys return and flow for the next fifty days until the Solemnity of Pentecost.

The Easter Vigil, beginning after night fall, and ending before dawn on Sunday, is aligned to the most ancient of Historical events where the people of God are keeping watch for the Lord (Exodus 12:42). The Easter Celebration is considered the greatest and most noble of all the solemnities that the Church celebrates.

The Lucernarium marks the beginning of the Vigil with the Blessing of the fire and the Preparation of the Paschal Candle. This light is brought into the dark church via the lit Paschal Candle and the passing on of the flame to the Faithful, and signifies the Light of Christ dispelling the darkness of our hearts and vicinity. This is followed with the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet which the Priest sings. The Exsultet proclaims the whole of Salvation History and glorifies the Lord God, the Maker of all.

The Liturgy of the Word then commences, to which nine readings are provided – seven from the Old Testament, and two from the New Testament – the Epistle and the Gospel. After the Last Reading from the Old Testament, with its Responsorial Psalm and Prayer, the candles are lit again and Gloria in excelsis sung. The bells are rung once again after the silence of Good Friday. The Epistle is then proclaimed followed by the Gospel.

The Third Part of the Vigil comprises of the Baptismal Liturgy if there are elect to be baptised. The Litany of the Saints is sung at this juncture as the elect come forward for their Baptism.

When the Rite of Baptism and/or Confirmation have concluded, the Faithful renew their own Baptismal Promises and are sprinkled with water that was blessed during the Baptismal Liturgy.

The Eucharistic Celebration for the Easter Vigil concludes with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is marked with the celebration of the Mass at Dawn and also the Mass during the Day. Attending the Vigil, Dawn or Day Mass fulfils the Easter Sunday obligation.

The Easter Octave

With great joy at the reality of our Risen Lord, the Faithful are encouraged during the eight days following Easter Sunday, to truly celebrate most joyously with feasting and with their family and communities.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan


The Roman Missal (Third Edition), 2011;

Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (New York: Harcourt,
Brace, and World, 1958), 193 and 173;

Leo the Great, Sermon 50.3.