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Musical Musings
Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
(Holy Thursday)
April 9, 2020
MD Ridge

Triduum Pitfalls I

The Triduum—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil—can be long, exhausting, wordy, repetitious and discouraging, not only for the liturgical ministers but for the congregation too. So much has to be crammed into such a short time that there’s little opportunity to really interiorize what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.

The big ritual event—the washing of feet—takes place after the reading, in which Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (plural). Then there’s the homily, which reiterates the subject. Then there’s the re-enactment of the footwashing, usually with the priest washing the already clean foot  (singular) of twelve rather embarrassed men, while the choir sings about footwashing.

But the people already know the story!

Large celebrations (diocesan and cluster liturgies) tend to become repetitive, employing a lowest-common-denominator way of including token bits of music from different language communities.

Now think of Pope Francis, who washed the feet (plural) of refugees, including Hindus, Muslims and Copts.

It’s way too late for us to make any significant changes this year, but we can do one thing: take notes throughout the Triduum. How were the readings done? Was the footwashing same-old same-old? What was effective? What wasn’t? What was inspiring? What can we do differently to better serve the people of God?

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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