All white on the night

Something I have learnt through experience is never ask a group a question that you do not know how to answer yourself. This is not about being omniscience but being prepared first to draw on one’s own experience before expecting others to do likewise.

As we look beyond the Triduum to the Easter Season and see 6-7 weeks of mystagogy we need to remind ourselves the celebration of the Triduum is the starting point. Perhaps we need to first note down our experience of the liturgies of the three days. I am a great one for jotting down the practical details: what went well, what needs to be attended to next time, what could be better. This is all very useful when we come to prepare the following year’s liturgies. But here I am more thinking of a journal. Reflections and impressions over three days. Even if you are busy as a liturgical minister in some form your need to participate. Participation is the first condition of mystagogy.

On Holy Thursday

  • What were your expectations before hand?
  • Was there a word or a phrase in the readings that stayed with you?
  • Which symbols caught your attention?
  • How did you feel at the end?

On Good Friday

  • What words would you use to describe the liturgy?
  • During the intercessions for whom did you pray?
  • What did feel like to kiss the cross?

At the Easter Vigil

  • What did you see as you gathered around the fire?
  • How many times did images of water come in the readings?
  • How would you depict the liturgy of baptism?

These questions are only starters. After you have got down your impressions take the opportunity to come back to them, to reflect on them. Ask why did you think or feel that, what can learn about what we celebrate, about Christ.

These reflections will enable us to help others to reflect. In the end though it will be the neophytes who lead us deeper into the mysteries. This paradox is at the heart of the Easter gospel.

When I prepare the liturgy booklet the one thing I am likely to forget is the reading that changes each year — the gospel at the Easter Vigil. One of the element that is common to gospel in all three years is that the resurrection is announced by someone in white garments. In Matthew ‘His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow’. It is not too fanciful make a connection with those who will rise up from the waters and put on a white garment, white as snow perhaps. In the waters of baptism they will die and rise with Christ, they are the sign that Christ is risen in our midst. From them over the coming weeks we will learn what it all means.

Martin F