St Patrick’s above all a ‘house of prayer’ – Dean Stacey at Installation
Preaching at his Installation last Saturday as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Victor Stacey, taking words from I Kings 3:7 as the text of his sermon (“I am but a little child”), compared himself in his new role to “that ‘little child’ making first, slow, tentative steps”, but nonetheless stressed that over and above all the different aspects of the Cathedral’s life, “this is a house of prayer, where daily offices are said, the Eucharist is celebrated, a place where people come to encounter God, however he may reveal himself to them”.
The Good Friday – Easter Triduum
Tridum means ‘three days’ and is an ancient name for the three days that conclude on Easter Sunday. The name has been revived in recent years. St Ambrose, in the fourth century, called it the ‘sacred triduum’ in which Christ “suffered and rested and rose”. St Augustine referred to “the most holy triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord”. It is also known as the ‘paschal triduum’ or the ‘Easter triduum’.
Whatever term is used, it helps us to see this period as a unity, usually now considered as beginning on Maundy Thursday with the Last Supper, continuing with the remembrance of the death of Christ on Good Friday and his time in the tomb (Holy Saturday) and reaching its climax in a vigil service on Easter Eve and the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Day, either at a dawn service or later.
Although the emphasis shifts from anticipation of the death of Christ, through remembrance of it to his rising from the dead, it all relates to the theme of dying and rising which is central to Christian faith in the one “who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4: 25).
The Easter celebration probably has its roots in observance of the sunday nearest to the Jewish Passover as a festival of the death and resurrection, preceded by a two-day fast. By the end of the second century, the concept of the ‘three days’ was becoming established and was firmly established in many places by the end of the fourth. it received fresh emphasis from the practice of the Church in Jerusalem, where the people in their liturgy actually visited the various holy places and relived each event of the Gospel at the time and on the spot where it occurred. These practices were recorded for posterity by a lady called Egeria, who went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem between 381 and 384 and who wrote to her friends explaining the ceremonies.
For present-day Christians, it is possible to enter into such an experience imaginatively through the forms of worship of their own parish churches, and best where the triduum is fully observed. These three days are the climax of the Church’s worship and witness to Christ crucified and risen.
However we observe these sacred days, Good Friday and Easter together are a time for remembering and celebrating the good news that death has indeed been “swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15: 54).
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Columns & Features
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MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH OF IRELAND Editors: Ginnie Kennerley
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ASIAN THEOLOGY ON THE WAY: CHRISTIANITY, CULTURE AND CONTEXT Authors: Peniel Jesudason and Rufus Rajkumar ed. Publisher: SPCK
LECTIO DIVINA – THE SACRED ART Author: Christine Valters Painter Publisher: SPCK
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