Step-by-step with Jesus: From the Passion to the Resurrection

Marco Carvalho

“The Easter Triduum is at the heart of Holy Week” – with a concise but powerful statement, Fr Daniel Ribeiro, parish vicar of the Cathedral Church, sums up the importance that the three-day period that began on Thursday evening has for millions of Catholics worldwide.

The Holy Week celebrations, which started on the weekend with the celebration of Palm Sunday, entered a more intense phase with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Washing of the Feet ritual.

The ceremony, which began at 6 pm in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, inaugurated the celebrations of the Easter Triduum, the most important period of the liturgical year. “Why are these three days the most important? And what do they mean for the Catholic Church? They are the key to the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Easter is not just the Resurrection. Easter is the suffering, Death and Resurrection of Christ. And this is what we celebrate in the Easter Triduum when we celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ. We celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, the suffering, Death and also the Resurrection of Christ,” Fr Ribeiro told O Clarim.

With the Bishop of Macau, D. Stephen Lee Bun-sang, as the main celebrant, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was conducted both in Cantonese and Portuguese. Most of the ceremonies of the Easter Triduum were celebrated in more than one tongue. But there are a few that were celebrated autonomously by the communities that pray in Portuguese and English, as in the case of the Way of the Cross and the Good Friday ceremonies. Fr Eduardo Aguero, Argentinian missionary and member of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, emphasized, “Good Friday is the only day of the year when there is no Mass, only the celebration of the Passion of the Lord. The liturgical readings are completely centred on the Passion of the Lord. It is a very sad day, a day of great pain, in which we have to sympathize with the suffering of Christ. But his suffering is not something of the past, something that happened two thousand years ago. Christ is still suffering today in Ukraine.”

 Fr Aguero also added that the Way of the Cross was celebrated in Portuguese by Fr Ribeiro, and the Good Friday ceremonies were conducted in Portuguese at the Cathedral Church with Bishop Stephen Lee presiding. The Easter Vigil will be held according to the mixed model of Chinese, with a little Portuguese and English as well.

Cathedral Church, the Focus of Triduum Celebrations

The ceremonies aimed at the Portuguese-speaking Catholics in Macau were centered this year in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady. In addition to the Way of the Cross and the Holy Friday ceremonies, the only Pascal retreat aimed at Macau’s Portuguese-speaking Catholics took place on Friday and Saturday morning in the basement of the Chancery building. “It is an initiative aimed at the Portuguese-speaking community. Early morning, on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, Fr Daniel led an Easter retreat. A few days before, another retreat of this kind was held at the University of Saint Joseph. This initiative gathered quite a significant number of people, and it was quite successful,” Fr Aguero said.

On Friday afternoon, D. Stephen Lee Bun-Sang joined the Portuguese-speaking Catholics for the ceremonies of the Passion of the Lord and for the procession of the Lord’s burial, the rite that brings to an end the first of the three days of the Easter Triduum.

Fr Ribeiro explained, “On Friday, there is no Mass, there is no consecration. It is the only day in the entire year when there is no consecration. After this ceremony, which was presided over by Bishop Lee and took place at 3.30 pm, there was a small procession at the Church – the procession of the Lord’s burial – in which Jesus’ coffin is paraded. People are invited to venerate the image of the dead Lord as a sign of respect. After this, the second day of the Easter Triduum began.

He went on to say, “From early Friday night until late Saturday afternoon, nothing happens. It is a day entirely dedicated to silence, a journey of pain and sadness. These are the circumstances that prevail until Saturday afternoon, when the second day of the Triduum ends.”

With the beginning of the third day of the Triduum, at nightfall on Saturday, hope overcomes despair. On Saturday night, the Resurrection of Jesus and the triumph of life over death will be announced and celebrated. “The Resurrection of Jesus is already celebrated on Saturday night. It is the most important Mass of the year, because it is the Eucharist in which the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is announced. The Mass begins with the lights out, with the candles all out. The candles are then lit, one by one. We ring the bell, the Gloria is sung and the Resurrection of the Lord is announced,” Fr Ribeiro elucidated.

Starting at 8 pm on Saturday, the Easter Vigil Mass will be conducted in Cantonese and and in Portuguese and has an even more solemn meaning for the Chinese Catholic community, which will joyfully welcome new members of God’s flock. Fr Ribeiro disclosed, “During the Mass, the sacraments of Baptism, the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation will be administered. It is a very special mass, in which people will receive these three fundamental sacraments of Christian initiation.”

For the English-speaking Catholics in Macau, the celebrations of the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ culminate on Sunday with the celebration of the Eucharist in St Augustine’s Church at 9:30 am, 11 am and 6 pm. “The third day of the Easter Triduum continues into Sunday. On Sunday morning as well, Catholics gather and celebrate the Resurrection. This is how the Triduum is celebrated,” Fr Ribeiro concluded.