Day 39, Some Triduum Suggestions

By the liturgists’ count, it’s the thirty-ninth day of Lent. Sundown tomorrow, we arrive at the end next waystation of the spiritual journey, the Last Supper.

I may post at most once a day the next few days. RCIA returns early next week. Personally, I do better cutting back on the internet this week. And no offense intended, I do better not reading some sites.

I have a few suggestions for you family-oriented Catholics out there in the readership. Take what seems good and leave the rest, as you see fit.

My main suggestion is to bring your children to the Triduum liturgies. All of them. (My second suggestion is to encourage a nap tomorrow and Saturday especially.) Odds are your parish is never better at liturgy these three days, and if you feel the need to plant a seed of adult Massgoing, this is the week to plant.

If your parish has open footwashing on Holy Thursday, bring your child and wash feet as a family. Remember the Mandatum is a charge to all believers, even if the rite suggests “viri selecti.” We should approach the basin with that commitment in mind.

Certainly take time for adoration after the procession. If you live in a city, a pilgrimage to other churches is a nice experience for youngsters.

Good Friday is also a good day to attend–maybe Stations and the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion both. I was never fussy with the young miss about dozing off during John’s Gospel. My sense is that if the child needs a nap, there are worse places than church.

I had a call from a parishioner concerned about her children, ages 11 and 15, and the Easter Vigil. When the young miss was eleven (and even today in the teen years) I encouraged a nap on Holy Saturday. But I think a child of any age can benefit from the Easter Vigil. At minimum, very young children will enjoy the Easter fire and Liturgy of Light. If that’s all they can handle, just go home before the readings start. Then come back for the full Mass the next morning. It is perfectly acceptable to visit your church more than once on a weekend. Triduum is hardly a one-stop (spiritual) shopping event.

Another strategy is to stay through the Exodus reading. That will be the highlight of our Liturgy of the Word, as we’re chanting it with acclamations from the assembly. I used to make “little horses” with my two hands for the young miss, and when we sung ” horse and chariot are cast into the sea,” my hands would flip and my fingers would wiggle as they “sunk into the sea.”

And if your child makes it to the baptism of adults, then you might as well stay for the end.

Let’s be serious: what kid doesn’t like to stay up really, really late?

The year before I was baptized (1970), my sister and I attended the whole Triduum. I would still place that experience in my top five Triduums. Plant the memories and traditions before your offspring have any chance to become Easter Catholics.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Day 39, Some Triduum Suggestions

  1. ben says:

    Are you really suggesting that I should have taken my 1 year old, two year old, four year old, 5 year old, six year old, 8 year old, ten year old, 11 year old AND then teenager to vigil?

    Mom was singing in the choir, and even though the teeanger and the 10 year old are tremendous help, I just don’t think it would have been possible–especially with the fire.

  2. Todd says:

    Nine kids. Admittedly more of a handful than my one.

    I would say that any child who has received First Communion should be seriously considered. That said, there might special behavior considerations–you know your kids best.

    How does it work on Sunday with eleven of you?

    When your oldest were young did you start their “ambulatory” phase with one-hour Sunday Masses or work their way up to it? I’m amazed that so few parents “practice” church with their kids: five, ten and twenty-minute visits working their way up to an hour of dignity. It’s probably a great grace we don’t have more kids acting up than we do.

  3. ben says:

    We are not too unusual in our parish. There are a lot of lager families. The largest has 13 kids. The older kids do help out a lot, and Mom brings the baby with her to the chior loft, sometimes she will bring one more too. I think it is important to bring the little ones to mass. Often in the first few years of life this means being willing to leave with a rowdy one to the vestibule for a few minutes to calm someone down. But by the time they are 3, they can usually behave reasonably well for a mass of up to about 75 minutes. Palm Sunday and Good Friday a little long for them, but they can still handel it.

    We start early with teaching the kids how to sit still at home. Michelle Duggar (yes the one with 19 kids) has some great advice on how to teach kids to be still in her book.

    My wife reports that the Vigil at our parish this year, to which she did bring the teenager and the 10 year old, ran from 9:00 to 12:15. I hear it was stunning! I get to go next year.

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