A Pray Tell reader writes in:
What does it mean that only a fraction of the members of our faith communities attend Triduum liturgies? Is it a serious spiritual problem?
The pattern at our parish, which I believe reflects common experience in the US, is that we fill our church on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. But then, on any given Sunday, we fill our church several times each weekend, so it seems logical to conclude that only a rather small subset of our regular weekend attendees immerse themselves in the Triduum celebrations. Then on Easter Sunday we are swamped to overflowing with attendees – a multiple of the number would attend an Ordinary Time weekend.
Last year, my spouse and I insisted that our children attend all the Triduum liturgies. What struck us was how little they understood: they were not at all attuned to the historical/biblical events being celebrated, or to the reality of RCIA and the elect in the midst of the faith community, and they expressed complete unfamiliarity with the ritual actions such as veneration of the Eucharist and veneration of the cross. These children are reasonably bright and have received standard faith formation, including some Catholic schooling as well as parish-based religious education, and live in an actively religious household. Yet it seems that the gaps in their liturgical formation were sizable indeed. It doesn’t strain credulity to imagine that these gaps aren’t unique to them and aren’t relegated to children.
Is it possible that large segments of our faith communities, in not actively celebrating the liturgical heart of their faith, have gaps in their understanding and practice? Are our faith communities jumping to Easter while skipping what gets us to Easter?