Celebrating the Lord’s Death and Resurrection with Easter Triduum Liturgies
Story and photos by Anna Samanamu
(Orange, N.J. – April 23) – “He is risen! Alleluia! Happy Easter!” echoes joyfully all over the parish of Our Lady of the Valley and the Salesian community of Orange, N.J.
It is reassuring to acknowledge God’s mercy and love for all of us and to realize how Jesus truly died for our sins to save us. One of the key aspects of Easter is truly recognizing that Jesus’s resurrection is the path to our salvation.
At OLV Parish, we commenced the preparation for the Easter Triduum Masses on Wednesday, April 17, with bilingual Eucharistic adoration and confessions for the parishioners. Originally, confessions were to be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. But in the spirit of repentance for our sins, parishioners continued to arrive until 11:00 p.m.!
On Holy Thursday, the bilingual Mass began at 7:00 p.m., which helped the community understand the importance of Jesus’s last supper with his 12 apostles. Fr. John Nazzaro, director of the Salesian community in Orange, was the celebrant, and Fr. Miguel Suarez, pastor at OLV, was the homilist. Fr. Miguel emphasized several key points, such as the meaning of Jesus’ washing the feet of his apostles, the importance of the commandment “to love one another,” the institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the priesthood. Following this enlightening homily, Fr. John washed the feet of 12 parishioners. The lay people portraying the apostles were chosen from different ministries within the parish. It was a touching representation of the washing of the feet.
Good Friday was a gloomy yet busy day. A Good Friday service in English took place at 3:00 p.m. A live Via Crucis began on the streets of the Valley at 6:00 p.m., which was then followed with a Good Friday service in Spanish. Attendance at this year’s Via Crucis doubled last year’s! The Orange Police Department did a great job escorting the procession through the streets. All the parishioners who participated in the play did an amazing job of demonstrating the impact and intensity of Jesus’ suffering on the cross.
The Triduum continued toward its conclusion on Holy Saturday with a bilingual Easter Vigil. The church was filled. All the parts of the liturgy were well prepared, and the commentator helped the congregation to understand each step of the Vigil. Deacon Juan Pablo Rubio stated that the Easter Vigil was his favorite: “This Mass was really beautiful because in the liturgy of the word, one can see the hand of God in creation and how sin existed, but the light of Christ enlightens our lives and it’s filled with life and love.”
The Triduum came to its conclusion on Easter Sunday, the essential component for the parish to transmit a beautiful message of resurrection to the people. It was, as well, a moment of reflection from the laypeople to demonstrate more peace and love in their everyday lives. On Resurrection Sunday there was an afternoon fellowship at the Parish’s youth center, where food, games, and even a soccer match between parents and their kids took place. It was indeed a celebration!
The beautiful aspect of this year’s Easter Triduum was seeing that in every Mass, the church was completely full of parishioners! It was almost as if our Lord was really gravitating toward our community to enlighten us to come hear of his immense love and not to be afraid for the future; in other words, we were enlightened to view these days with a sense of hope to begin again in our lives – this time, with Christ forever in our hearts.