Allison Gingras Easter Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year

The Triduum for the Win

The Triduum for the Win

Easter circa 1977 consisted of a new floral print dress, a cute hat, and lots of candy.  I have vague recollections of frozen fish sticks on Fridays and at least one failed attempts to give up candy for Lent, and the rice bowls collection boxes we brought home, constructed, but never filled.  Super holy, huh! Mom and Dad were not exactly church folk, a real shame, as they missed some glorious opportunities to experience real joy.

While our Easter celebrations get lost in menus, egg hunts, and new floral dresses, our Triduum celebration belongs all to Jesus.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and even Holy Saturday, we surrender those days to the traditions of our Catholic faith. The activities of these days have evolved over the years, especially as our children age, but the heart and intent remain focused on growing in holiness and hope.

Holy Thursday kicks off the Triduum fun with the evening Mass. My daughter loves Mass at night, with the darkened stained glass windows portraying the darkness of the days we are about to experience.  Twice, our family has been invited to participate in the “Washing of the Feet” ceremony. Sitting before the peering eyes of the parishioners can be horrifying and humbling, but when you realize what you are being asked to reenact, the horror dissipates, replaced by honor and awe.

Our parish also participates that night in a beautiful tradition of visiting seven churches (no one seems to know why we visit seven). At one time that was easy, living next to a rural city with several churches.  Over the years, as the Church crisis continues, there are fewer and fewer to visit. We can still achieve the seven visits in two hours, but it feels as if the day when we will be lucky to get in 4 or 5 is around the corner.  I guess that will be my prayer intention this year as we adore Jesus in the Eucharist, from church to beautiful church.

Good Friday, we fast. True confession time. In my early re-version days, I would sleep in the afternoon, tired from the fast, looking to find an easy way to pass the time.  It was not until I read Scripture that I realized the significance of the slumber:  “Could you not stay awake one hour?” Now, I head to my parish for three hours of prayer and solitude…well, until the teens arrive to practice the live Passion Play.

In the evening, my family returns to our parish for Good Friday services.  In the past few years, our pastor blessed us with the opportunity to venerate a relic of the “True Cross”—affixed to the large wooden cross presented at the altar during the services. The relic’s authenticity was said to be proven by a miracle of a deaf person hearing once again.  For years, my family has each watched, hopeful and curiously, as my daughter, Faith, who is deaf, approached and kissed the relic.  Inevitably, one of us would lean in and whisper into her ear to see if Faith had received miraculous healing.

This year our pastor and his glorious relic have moved on. Our faith is strong enough, however, to realize if God willed her to hear, with or without the glass-encased sliver of wood, she would.

Holy Saturday is a bit more challenging to keep since it is the awkward day of waiting. The tomb is empty, but we are not yet ready to celebrate it.  We have preparations to make for the following day’s meal and company but we want to remain mindful of all we have seen and heard in the last two days.  

Was that how the women felt preparing for the Sabbath after Jesus’ crucifixion? They had so many details for the day to attend to, yet each was mourning, probably exhausted from the previous day’s events and emotions.  They worked, waiting until they could visit Jesus in the tomb, surrounded by an odd silence and uncertainty.

Before we burst forth with Alleluias and the Gloria, the Triduum holds treasures of its own. We cannot fully appreciate Easter without the garden, His Passion, the Cross, and even the waiting.


Alessandra Easter Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year

Stabat Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother Stood

I just returned from Church, from our Good Friday service this evening.   The crucifixion was bloody, messy, ugly…a fitting punishment for humanity which deserved the scourge, the crown and the nails that were born by sinless perfection.  For me, tonight and when I saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ, the most difficult thing to deal with is looking into the face of our Blessed Mother.  As my friend Katherine most precisely described it tonight as her status on Facebook, “We cannot even begin to try to imagine and trying not to feel how she felt watching her Son be abused, humiliated, bullied, whipped half to death, beaten, kicked, dragged, forced to carry His own cross, and then put to death before her very eyes. How helpless she must have felt. How awful to watch and not be able to comfort the Son she bore, nursed, tended, taught, cuddled, and played with. What mother could ever just stand by and be able to watch knowing that there was NOTHING she could do, yet knowing it was all for the greater good?”

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.” ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I leave you with the scenes from The Passion of the Christ that I love most, those that depicted Our Lord’s Passion as well as Our Blessed Mother’s Sorrows.

Sorrowful Mother, you are there at the foot of the Cross of your Son…firm, standing like a queen next to your Son, offering yourself as a sacrifice of consolation. And you see how a solider pierces the Heart of your Son with a sword…and your heart, Mary, is pierced spiritually at that exact moment by the same sword…The indissoluble union of your heart with the Heart of Jesus is revealed for all eternity. Your heart mystically receives the effects of the physical piercing of the heart of your Son. Oh, Mother, your Son has died and you feel the pain, the emptiness, the loneliness, but also you rest in knowing that the world, with its hostility, can no longer hurt Him. How great are you Mary! You, just as your Son Jesus, have reached the end. It is at the peak of Mount Calvary, on that cross where your Son is elevated to His throne as King, where you become queen. Your reign, Mary, is obtained by your great love and fidelity during such sorrow and pain. Everything seems to be complete… and all this you kept silently in your heart… You did all this because you trusted in the love of the Father! (Way of the Cross of Our Sorrowful Mother)

If you have never seen, or had the stomach to watch, The Passion of the Christ, I invite you to watch just this scene of the Crucifixion.


The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The following translation by Edward Caswall is not word-for-word. Instead it has been adapted so as to represent the meter (trochaic tetrameter), rhyme scheme, and sense of the original text.

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae moerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Translation by Edward Caswall
Lyra Catholica (1849)

Our Lady of Sorrows, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus