Thursday, April 21, 2011

So to Pass Through This Holy Time of Our Lord's Passion

Andrew wondered last night why we have to leave church in silence tonight and tomorrow night, and why we have to assemble in silence on Friday and Saturday nights. I had some ideas, but no good explanation. It's hard to pin down (without sounding pietistic) why we have this practice. I don't think my experience this morning answers his question, but it does shed some light.

Okay, a bit of background first. When I was editing the first volume of Scaer's In Christ, I loved the Easter Vigil sermon on "The Greatest Comeback Ever." Hating the fact that I sounded like a salesman, I nevertheless couldn't help but tell people that that sermon alone made it worth buying the book! Gary stole borrowed that sermon the first year the book was out. Pastor Bender did too, that year or the next. I told them both I could listen to that sermon preached over and over.

So anyway, back to the point. This morning during Bible class, Pastor reads us that sermon. Oh, I love that sermon! But I noticed something. (Call me emotional. Call me an Enthusiast. Call me a pietist. Whatever.) That sermon is different on Thursday morning than it is on Saturday night. The journey through the Passover readings on Thursday, the stripping of the altar, the Tenebrae, the veneration of the cross, the Reproaches, the entire Passion reading from John, the Exsultet, and the many stories during the Great Vigil, they all do something.

Holy Tuesday's collect:
Almighty and everlasting God, grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord's Passion that we may obtain the pardon of our sins.


  1. Maybe the leaving/assembling in silence helps highlight the fact that the Triduum is not three liturgies but one? There's no Benediction on Thursday or Friday because the liturgy on those nights is not over but merely paused until we pick it back up again the next night.

  2. We had a benediction on Thursday night, and an invocation on Saturday night. It's just Friday where we don't have them. So I think there's more to it than that.