Keep it simple this Triduum

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks, Pray Tell blog will share insight
by Diana Macalintal on preparing for Triduum.
Each of these posts come from
and originally appeared in GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.

Last week we talked about avoiding historicizing the Triduum. When we try too hard to reenact the past, showing what we believe it to have looked like in the Upper Room, in the garden of Gethsemane, at Calvary, or the empty tomb, we run the risk of forgetting the point of the paschal mystery—Christ saves us now, here in our time, and draws us into the saving love of the Trinity that redeems all human history. When we use “props” to bring the Gospel to life instead of relying on the extraordinary power of ordinary liturgical symbols, we reduce the story of salvation to one moment in time.

Therefore, on Holy Thursday, do not decorate the place of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament as though it were a garden or a tomb, “for the chapel of repose is not prepared so as to represent the Lord’s burial but for the custody of the eucharistic bread that will be distributed in communion on Good Friday” (Paschale Solemnitatis #55). Remember this space is a chapel for prayer, not a theater. Simple, natural, elegant, and genuine environment is always better than staged, historicized, otherworldly, or overly manufactured settings. There is great beauty in humble art and a simple space which reflect the humility of Jesus and of those called to adore him. Trust the simple space, for there you will find Christ.

One comment

  1. An octogenarian friend of mine who grew up in Bogotá remarked to me that the Eucharistic shrine on Holy Thursday in the churches she visited did not have natural flowers, but just gilt/silver/brass sheaves of wheat. While spectacular in candle light, they were also strikingly simple in concept. They may not offer the surface level humility that some may wish, but they were also sustainable as perpetually re-usable.

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