Preparing the Triduum Liturgical experience
By Steve Taranovich
I met with Sister Ginger, just before this year’s Triduum at St. Thomas More (STM). Sister is a 30-year member of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, a small congregation in the Southwest.
She has worked as a community vocation director in different dioceses. Her ministry work includes Director of Religious Education, Director of Liturgy, Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Religious Education and Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Phoenix. While at the Office of Worship, Sister Ginger did not have a specific parish, so St. Thomas More became her Parish.
Liturgy is Sister’s gift and her passion; early in her career she wanted something more so she went and got a Master’s Degree in Liturgical Studies and has been working with Liturgy for 20 years.
She has been directing the Triduum Liturgy at St. Thomas More (STM) for the last 12 years. ‘If we do not realize the intricateness of how things are interwoven, some things may slip out that most people would not even notice, but all of these are significant.’ Sister feels that one of the things that draws people to STM is good liturgy. Sister makes sure that the little things that need to be done during the Liturgy get done, while staying in the background unnoticed.
Sister learned over the years how hot Father Jim likes the incense charcoal so that when he applies the incense, the smoke rises immediately; how hot Father likes the water to wash his hands. These are seemingly little but it makes for a smooth flow for a good Liturgy. When something gets ‘out of synch’ in the Liturgy, it causes a break in that smooth flow.
Good Liturgy calls people into a good relationship with God, even if they are not totally conscious of it. An example is people coming to Church and leaving while humming the last hymn or maybe something in Father’s homily catches their ear and they are thinking about it after—they are drawn deeper. When people are not engaged through music, the responses, or through active listening, engagement does not happen. ‘As we continue to evolve as a Church that is always evolving—that is where the people will gather when it’s good Liturgy; it feeds the soul.’
The Triduum is one liturgy with three distinct parts which flow together, keeping a smooth movement from one day into another throughout the three services. Sister Ginger’s biggest task is to allow Father Jim to ‘pray’ the Liturgy, so that he does not have to worry about details like the incense being lit or whether the readers are ready and in their places, or if there are enough towels for washing of the feet. Father is able pray beforehand and be serene and secure that all the logistics are taken care of so that he can fully immerse himself in the Liturgy.
“We must understand the symbolism of the incense and the water used in the Liturgy; these need to be abundant. A few drops on the head is a valid Baptism but it’s not the death and Resurrection experience you get in a full-immersion Baptism” that Father Jim performs at the Easter Vigil. “When you watch those people go down into the water and come back up, we need to watch the neophyte’s face as well as Father Jim’s face to see the depth of that experience”.April 11, 2018