Any liturgist will tell you that the best way to teach about liturgy is to celebrate richly and robustly. The Triduum, which is only weeks away, is without a doubt the most robust sacramental celebration in our life of worship and, as such, provides an extraordinary opportunity for quality adult faith formation simply by inviting people to play a role in the celebrations. Here are some ideas for how to make that happen.
Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
- Invite a group of adults to organize a pot luck dinner several hours before the Mass begins to highlight the notion of serving others and to build community.
- Invite several adults to bring forth the sacred oils in procession at the beginning of Mass.
- Gather a group of adults to ring bells during the Gloria—a wonderful tradition mentioned in the Roman Missal.
- Recruit a number of adults to assist in the Washing of the Feet, especially assisting with towels, refilling pitchers, and emptying basins.
- Invite a number of adults to walk in procession when the Blessed Sacrament is transferred after Communion.
- Arrange a tour/pilgrimage of local churches after Mass while many churches are open for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Here is some background on the tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday.
Good Friday Passion of the Lord
- Invite a group of adults to organize a fish stick or tuna casserole dinner a few hours before the nighttime celebration of the Passion. Don’t make it a fish fry. Keep it purposefully simple. People normally would scoff at fish sticks, but on Good Friday, they’ll make an exception! (I’m speaking from my experience in parish ministry!)
- Involve as many adults as possible in the proclamation of the Passion. It need not (and should not) be a re-enactment. However, it is very effective to assign reading parts to a number of adults and have them seated in the assembly. When it is time for their lines, they simply stand and read them loudly.
- For the Veneration of the Cross, arrange to have one large cross that the entire assembly can venerate, and have a group of adults assist the priest or deacon in carrying the cross in and uncovering it. This same group of people can hold the cross as the faithful come forward to venerate.
- Assign a group of adults to strip the altar after the Dismissal.
Holy Saturday Easter Vigil
- Invite a number of adults to be on hand for distributing taper candles for all who arrive; don’t rely on the usual number of ushers.
- Invite the entire assembly to come forward to bless themselves with the newly blessed holy water (if the font is large enough) as part of the renewal of baptismal promises.
- Arrange a corps of volunteers to fill little plastic bottles with holy water to be handed to all in attendance at the end of Mass.
- Organize a group of adults to host a wine and cheese reception to follow the liturgy.
Such robust celebration of the Triduum requires a great deal of orchestration but it is worth it; the power of these liturgies to form us is enhanced by such robustness. The more adults we have participating in these three days, the more adults will be formed, which is the goal of adult catechesis. This is no time to keep things simple!
What other opportunities for involving adults in the celebration of the Triduum did I miss? If I suggested anything liturgically incorrect (I’m not a liturgist), politely correct me.