Observing the Triduum at this time

Dear Families, Faculty, and Friends,

Are these unprecedented times? This Triduum, will it be like never before? What will happen when this all ends… the absence, the lack of community, the lack of liturgy?

I made a comment this week along the lines of, “Where are the St. Damien's of Molokai?” My dear friend helped me get to the very consideration of our time.

Yes, we want what is good. We want to be in school. We want the sacraments. We want communion. We want the liturgy.

Our desire for what is good is not unprecedented --- it is natural; our Church has been through this before, and we ought to recall the very vivid examples of domestic worship, even in modern times.

How did Germany and Poland give rise to two of the most intellectual and pastoral personalities amidst political persecution? St. John Paul the Great and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI were formed in an underground Church. We are all underground in one sense now, not necessarily because there are human forces out to get us.

Will it be any different when we consider biological alienation?

Honestly, I sit here in my daughter’s bedroom writing while my children ask for things from my wife.

What do we ask of our Heavenly Father? Do we ask for what we think we deserve, or do we ask for what He knows we deserve? Do we purport to know the right course of action, the right outcome, or do we listen and look for the right course of action, the right outcome?

If there is one thing this moment teaches me, it is that I need to constantly reconsider what I want and what God wants. I would venture God wills something I cannot quite understand right now, but given what I know about the goodness of His providence, I resolve to commit my faith to the good He intends to bring, not the good I think I desire.

Entering the Triduum without the aforementioned considerations would seem to cause some sort of existential crisis. Do we have rights to the liturgy? The only right that seems to exist now is the right to love God and neighbor. It is almost as if we are a people in exile, without each other and without the primary means of connecting to our Creator.

But the whole of salvation history pivots on the moment upcoming, the moment when God willingly assumes the ultimate form of abandonment because He always intended to say to us, “I am with you until the end of time.”

For me, it is no different in one sense. I participate in the Triduum and say to myself, “I wish I was there.” Wait, I am there. We are all here. God’s salvific act some 2,000 years ago is a real historical event, an event for which millions of people willingly consented the term of their earthly existence to begin an eternal indwelling in the unimaginable beatitude of heavenly bliss --- with others I might add.

We are not with each other now. We are always with God. Therefore, with God --- the binding force of all --- we are with each other.

I think the only right I really have is to know God, love Him, serve Him, and live in this life so as to live with Him eternally. Circumstances do not dictate that for any human; only the ardent desire to live for Him and reap the reality of a resurrected existence where even biological deficiencies are eradicated.

Political or biological, God came to be human, die, and rise to free the human condition from both forms of alienation.

Looking back at the very circumstances that overwhelmed Jesus’ disciples affords a penetrating perspective; consider how out of sorts his disciples were when they watched him fade so brutally from their own preconceived promises of a better existence, only later they encounter the resurrected Jesus in such a humanizing manner. Jesus – a man once dead – eats fish with the apostles on the seashore.

I typically return to another personal spiritual father during this time of the year, and I hope his words are as consoling for you as they are for me:

“It is a part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly open our eyes if we open our doors to him.

And yet --- is this not the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with eternal power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love...

If we attend to the witnesses with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and himself, then we know he is truly risen. He is alive.” – Jesus of Nazareth: Part II, Joseph Ratzinger

Please be assured of my prayers for all of you during this sacred season. May all of your families receive the presence of our Risen Lord and may our adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament serve as a powerful witness to the redemption of humanity.

Yours truly in Christ,

Derek Tremblay