The Three Days
The three days of the Triduum are Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. They are considered the holiest days in our Church year. And while attending in person is a wonderful way to celebrate, if you have young children, it can be difficult. And doing some of these activities in your faith formation class can introduce some liturgical aspects of the Triduum to those who may not experience them otherwise.
Adapt these ideas for your group or family as needed. Gather at whatever time of day is best for you. Make the space you gather in special: place candles, a crucifix, if you have holy water, and a bible on a table. Use a white cloth for Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, red for Good Friday.
Depending on the age of your children, you can read from a children’s bible. If possible, have older children read the passage after practicing. Start each reading with A reading from the Holy Gospel of …” At the end, say, “The Gospel of the Lord” and respond with “Praise to you, Lord Jesus, Christ.”
Today is Holy Thursday. It is the day we remember and celebrate Jesus giving us Himself in Holy Communion. The readings for the Mass tell us about the Jewish Passover as Moses, and the people prepared to leave Egypt. The second reading is from St. Paul, and it tells the story of the Last Supper. The Gospel, though, tells us not about the meal but about what Jesus did after the meal for his apostles.
Read John 13:1-15; if that’s too long for your family, use verses 4-10; 12-15.
After reading the Gospel passage, have everyone close their eyes as you slowly read the following:
We are going to put ourselves in the room with Jesus and His disciples. Imagine you can see the room and the table and the cushions on the floor. Can you smell the food? Hear them talking? Jesus and his disciples have eaten their meal. They had lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread and wine. They sang songs and prayed. Jesus told them that He would be with them always. You can see them sitting around the table, feeling full and happy after a good meal. And then Jesus gets up and gets ready to wash everyone’s feet. This is strange. Dinner is over. Don’t you wash before dinner, when people first come into the house? Why is Jesus doing this? I think I understand why Peter says not to wash his feet. I would feel weird for someone as holy as Jesus to wash my feet. Jesus tells him that He must do so Peter can have a part in Jesus’ life and what He has in store for him. Okay, I want what Jesus has to give me, so He can wash my feet. Maybe it’s not so much about having clean feet. Jesus tells the apostles why He washed their feet. As an example. Examples are better than words; they help me understand. Jesus wants the apostles to wash other people’s feet just like He washed theirs. Does that mean I should wash other people’s feet? I think it does. Is it really about washing feet, though? Or is it about serving others? Being kind? Helpful? What else is it about? It’s about not thinking you are better than others. If Jesus, who is the Son of God, can wash feet, then I can do what I’m asked to do. That is what Jesus wants us to learn. To take care of others. How can I take care of others?
After a few minutes of quiet, have everyone open their eyes. Discuss with the class/family their feelings and thoughts. Here are a few questions to get started: What would it be like to have Jesus wash your feet? Why does Jesus show his apostles what to do? How can you wash other people’s feet? 4. How can we, as a family, wash each other’s feet?
Song to close: Servant Song
Today we remember the death of Jesus. The Gospel reading we read tells us what happened from Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane all the way to his burial. This mediation will focus on John 19:16-30.
After reading John 19:16-30, begin the meditation:
Let’s imagine that we are there with Jesus and his apostles. What are we thinking? How do we feel?
It is just one day after the apostles celebrated the Passover with Jesus. They went to the garden to pray, and then Jesus was arrested. The apostles were very afraid for Jesus. (pause) What was going to happen? Jesus had told them He would suffer and die. Was it going to happen now? From far away, they waited and watched. They saw Jesus being beaten and made fun of by soldiers. It was horrible to see. (pause) Why did they hurt Jesus so much? He was always good to everyone. All the people gathered to hear what Pilate would do to Jesus. He gave in to the crowd and told them that Jesus would be crucified. (pause) They gave Jesus a heavy cross to carry. He walked slowly, painfully up to the hill where criminals were crucified. But Jesus wasn’t a criminal. Why didn’t they know that? (pause) Why didn’t they love Jesus? (pause) Many people watched as Jesus walked up to the top of the hill. Some were sad and cried. Others made fun of Him. I don’t think I could watch Jesus like that. It would hurt too much. (pause) At the top of the hill, the soldiers laid Jesus on the cross He had carried and nailed him to it. The pain was horrible. But Jesus said nothing. How did He do that? Because His Father was with him. (pause) They put the cross up; all the people could see Jesus up on the cross. His mother, Mary, her sister, her cousin, Mary Magdalen and his apostle John stood at the cross, looking at Jesus. Praying. Crying. (pause) There was nothing they could do. Yet they stayed there until he died. That must have been very hard, but they loved Him so much they stayed. They were very brave and trusted on God to help them. (pause) Jesus told Mary that John would be her son now and told John that Mary was his mother now. Even as He was dying, He was taking care of those He loved. (pause) Jesus asked for a drink, and then, taking a last breath, He said, “It is finished,” and he died. (pause and then pray)
Let’s kneel down now and say a prayer, thanking Jesus for dying for us: Dear Jesus, you gave up Your life for me. You did that out of love. Help me to love you every day, remembering what you did for me. (Add your own prayers from family too now) Ask, “is there anything you want to say to Jesus?”
Close your prayer time with a song
Why by Nicole Nordman
My Deliverer by Matt Maher
Once the sun has set, gather together to reflect on the Resurrection. To really focus on Jesus as the Light of the World, light one candle and then have each family member light their own. Tealights or pillars can work so there are no dripping tapers.
Read the Gospel, Matthew 28:1-10. Ask: What is the first word that comes to your mind? Listen as I read this meditation.
An angel came down from heaven while Mary Magdalene and Mary and the guards were at Jesus’ tomb. And there was an earthquake. I would be afraid. (pause) I just wanted to come and pray. Now, this happens! The angel says, “Do not be afraid.” OK, I’ll try. (pause) The angel says that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and I see the tomb is empty. Alleluia! Alleluia! Jesus rose from the dead. (pause) He told us he would, but we didn’t understand. Thank you, Jesus, for rising from the dead. Wait a minute. The angel tells Mary Magdalene to go and see the apostles to let them know that Jesus has risen. He wants to see them in Galilee. (pause) The women go, and wow, they meet Jesus on the way. I can’t believe it. How exciting. How joyful everyone is. (pause) They want to thank Jesus and give Him praise and glory. Jesus is happy to see them. He loves them. He loves us too! (pause) Then Jesus reminds them they have a job to do. He wants them to tell the apostles He is risen and to go to Galilee so He can see them. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thank you, Jesus, for rising from the dead. You give us new life. A life that is full of joy and peace and hope. We want to share that joy with all those we love. Alleluia! Alleluia!
A few questions to ask:
- How can we share the joy of the Resurrection with others?
- What do we want people to know about Jesus?
Easter songs: Resurrection Power by Chris Tomlin