Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On the Triduum: Part Two

My memory has already faded significantly as regards the details of these liturgies. My apologies.

Good Friday

Father came out in simply a black stole over his cassock and surplice. It was dramatic in its utter simplicity. The altar was, as you remember from Thursday, completely bare, though the servers set it very simply (just a cloth, and /maybe/ two candles). Before the Veneration of the Cross, he changed into a black cope, which was just stunning. I've never seen a black cope before, but the wide expanse of black fabric seemed so right for a day of great mourning. He changed into a purple chasuble before he retrieved the Blessed Sacrament, which should provide interesting food for thought because the chasuble is a vestment for Mass, and the Good Friday Liturgy is definitively not a Mass.

It's not that the vestments were the only thing I paid attention to. They just really caught my eye because the changes were noticeable and significant, and I couldn't catch every detail because of paying attention to the music I was half-sightsinging, so they're one of the things I recall best.

Anyway, the Veneration of the Cross took forever but was pretty sweet (also the fact that we finished our hymn in time to run downstairs and venerate the cross ourselves was a nice gift). Father made a triple genuflection before veneration, then the servers did the same (or so I've been told. Singing and all that.), then the servers came and held the cross over the Prie-Dieu, after which the congregants processed up individually, genuflected, and kissed (usually the feet) of the crucifix, on their knees.

There was just so much silence. At many moments there was no prescribed chant; we were to be simply silent despite the fact that all it left the congregation to do was watch the priest (and possibly to wonder what he would do next). There were just so many moments of watchful silence. Watch and pray, I suppose.

Easter Vigil
Remember what I said in the last post about mine being a small parish with almost a provincial feel? I have never before been in a church at which the entire congregation assembled outside in the dark (and cold) around the Easter fire. It was so cool! We were just standing there, crowded around the fire, waiting. Waiting. Finally, Father (in violet cope) came from around the side, preceded by the servers, and blessed the fire. I couldn't hear (nor, of course, could I see) what exactly he was saying, but it seemed pretty much like what I'm used to in the novus ordo. I had a distinct feeling as he was praying whatever mysterious words that it was as if time had begun anew that very night, and he was blessing and consecrating the coming year to the Lord.

The servers had trouble lighting the Paschal Candle from the Easter fire (like, it took probably three minutes, including a trip inside back to the sacristy for a new candle by which to bring the flame to the Paschal Candle!), which gave me a lot of time to reflect upon it. I considered that, even if it be rubrically perfect, our earthly liturgy will never be quite perfect. It's a taste of heaven, the best we can get down here, but it's okay for things like this to go wrong. It shows us that the Lord still comes, still does things as He wills, no matter how much we screw things up. What a change from our "We have to do everything we can to make this as flawless as possible!" mindset on Liturgy Committee! (Not that that was bad - I'm just at a different place, and in a different position.)

We all knelt for the Lumen Christi, which was cool. I did, however, miss the congregational candles of the novus ordo and the gradual lighting of the Fieldhouse - after the third Lumen Christi, the lights just kind of all came on, at which point I chuckled to myself.

Then Father proclaimed the Exsultet at the ambo, facing North. It sounded like the familiar tone that's lasted to the novus ordo, which I found comforting. The ability to read a prosaic translation of this beautiful poem and to meditate upon it while it was being sung felt like such a luxury! I mean, the Exsultet is such a beautiful prayer, and you don't want to miss a word of it - and I really feel like I didn't this year! My favorite moment during the chanting of the Exsultet (take a guess!) was when Father stepped back from the ambo and I realized he was wearing not a white chasuble but a white dalmatic - the Mass garment of the deacon! I just love the fact that different clergy have specific roles to play, and those roles are clearly filled in that way (instead of just "Oh, here you can do this now").

Then he changed back into the violet cope and chanted the four prophecies. In a way, it was strange, because I've become accustomed to having so many more readings at the Vigil, but in another way it was enough, particularly since each Prophecy was significantly longer than a regular Lesson is, and there were four of them to the usual one Lesson. Perhaps I was just absorbed in praying those Scriptures, but it was enough. (You must understand, this was the part about which I feared I'd be terribly upset, but it was okay.) It's also just darn awesome that the second and fourth Prophecies flowed right into the tracts that followed them (i.e., "and they sang:" "Cantemus Domino..."). :)

Then we sang half of the Litany of the Saints (stopping at "Omnes sanctes", the catch-all for the saints not mentioned), after which came the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. (Unfortunately, we had no catechumens, so the baptismal font was neither blessed nor exorcized, and the aforementioned renewal was all we got along those lines.) It's generally done in the vernacular, but the Institute is awesome and they still do it in Latin, which I enjoyed. I love the continuity with the creed.
(Interesting tangent: In the present English translation of the novus ordo, the Credo is rendered "We believe", but the Abrenuntiamus and Credimus of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises is rendered "I do." What's going on with our pronouns?)

After that, we finished the Litany, then went into the Kyrie and Gloria. (At some point around here, Father changed into a full set of white Mass vestments.) During the Gloria, the servers redressed the altar with candles and flowers, and unveiled the statues and images that'd been covered throughout the church. It was really beautiful to see that, particularly after they'd been hidden for two weeks! It's funny in comparison to Steubenville (and I remember the debates well), because there it seemed so showy, and perhaps part of that was stylistic in the manner of redressing the altar, and perhaps part of the major difference was that it was laypeople, not servers, who brought up the flowers and whatnot. But I think the biggest factors are: 1) The flowers at Steubenville principally decorated the area around the altar, whereas those in West Orange decorated the altar itself (the higher levels of the high altar and such, which isn't an option out there), and 2) The images being uncovered is such an integral part of that bit of the rite, and the Fieldhouse isn't a chapel, so there really aren't images to cover! (Yes, I remember unveiling the cross and all that. But even that is hardly the same.)

From there Mass proceeded pretty much as usual until after Communion, at which point we chanted an abbreviated form of Lauds - which was really cool especially in light of how the prophecies and the vigil nature of the early bits of the Liturgy were totally based on the Divine Office as well. It was just a very nice way to round things out.

Overall Response
I liked my first traditional Triduum very much, and cannot imagine a better place to have been following two years on Liturgy Committee in Steubenville. But on the whole, it really wasn't as different as one might expect. Admittedly, I'm coming at this with a much greater knowledge of the Triduum liturgies than the average Catholic, but even so I would make the analogy as follows:
'62 Triduum : '70 Triduum :: '62 Sunday Mass : '70 Sunday Mass

It was lovely, and I am glad they asked me to sing in the choir. Too, I was so blessed to have wonderful friends visit me and the parish, who seem to have loved things just about as much as I did. And we got to celebrate the season with a midnight diner run! Woot!

* * *

Wesołego Alleluja, my friends (literally, blessed alleluia). Thank you for reading, and know that you were in my prayers during these beautiful aforementioned liturgies. Christ is arisen!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...