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Triduum Pitfalls II

Good Friday celebrations can, unfortunately, veer from the perfunctory to the maudlin. It’s almost as if we forget that “Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all.” (Romans 6:9-10)

To remember the death of Jesus is a good thing indeed, but to cloak its significance in sentimental bathos is a disservice to the living community. Again, what’s “in the book” is one of the least effective, least inspiring ways of recalling the death of Jesus. Remember: they already know the story. Keep it simple—the music, too.

Does the music speak to this community at this time in this place?

One year, in a cluster parish, the combined choir was crammed into a loft that was a fire hazard. The pastor decided two minutes before the service to change some of the music; the organist sang the replacement. The veneration of the cross was so poorly planned and executed that it took longer than all the rest of the service—and the organist had the choir singing “Jesus Remember Me”—a wonderful Taizé choice, but not when it’s sung over and over and over with no instrumental breaks (the well-prepared flutist was ignored), nothing except the refrain sung again and again without variation. Now Jesus was not in danger of forgetting us, he would not wish to be reminded.

So take notes for future consideration: what could be done better? Could an appropriate verse of “Were You There” punctuate the reading of the Passion? Weather permitting, could the veneration be done outside, with a large cross—not a crucifix? Is the music lovely but head-trippy? Does it speak to this community at this time in this place?

MD Ridge
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Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go
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