How We Do the Triduum: Holy Thursday

As the end of Lent comes in to sight, I like to focus on one of my favorite things about this time of year: saying the word Triduum. Seriously, how great is that word? It's right up there with trousers, gubernatorial, and ladle.
But the Triduum is more than just fun to say, it's also fun to do. (If you do it right.)
There is some confusion about when Lent actually ends, mostly because the answer to that question is, "it depends." The liturgical season of Lent ends before the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, at which time the Easter Triduum begins. The Easter Triduum is its own liturgical season, the shortest of the year.
That said, what most people are really asking is: when can I abandon my Lenten disciplines? That answer is, well, except for no meat on Fridays, they were voluntary this whole time . . . but the 40 days of Lenten penance ends on Holy Saturday. So it would be appropriate to continue your Lenten disciplines through end of business on Saturday. Our big kids love that going to the Vigil means they can get a head start on treat-eating over their sleeping younger siblings.
Throughout Lent, we celebrate both the fasts AND the feasts. And the same holds true for the Triduum. Holy Thursday is a bit of a paradox just in of itself. We commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood, truly something to celebrate. But we also remember that it was on this day that Our Lord was betrayed by a friend, and arrested. So, happy and sad. But, as a family, we focus mostly on creating our own Last Supper.

For dinner we do a modified seder meal. We are not obliged to celebrate Passover, of course, because Jesus' sacrifice ushered in a new covenant. But I still think it's fun to approximate what Jesus and his friends ate that night.

I serve . . .

Bitter Herbs:

Trader Joe's Herb Salad Mix, with Lemon Shallot
Dressing (recipe on the bag) is perfect!

Roasted lamb:

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops (from SimplyRecipes)

Applesauce (I tried making haroset one year and my kids didn't like it, so we just do applesauce) and some sort of potato dish (knish, or kugel, or latke). I'm making knishes this year:

Potato Knishes from Smitten Kitchen

Unleavened bread:

I'm going to try making Homemade Matzah this year!

And wine for the grownups and grape juice for the kiddos.

And now the good part:

We have a Lamb Cake. But Lamb Cakes really teeter on that edge between adorable and terrifying (it's a bold choice of color on that cake) so I just mold one out of Rice Krispie treats. I make a batch of treats, dump it on wax paper and let it cool until I can comfortably touch it*. Then, with well-buttered hands, I look at a picture of a lamb cake and just mold it into shape. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. I might slave for hours on a "real" lamb cake and still end up with something that's just going to freak everyone out, so I don't.

Since the Mass of Our Lord's Supper is too late for my little ones, we do the readings at the table after dinner, then pick names from a hat and wash each other's feet here at home.

I love the concept of The Seven Churches of Maundy Thursday, but I don't love the idea of keeping the kids up so late at the beginning of a big holiday weekend. (I don't know about yours, but if my kids stay up late two nights out of three they all immediately get sick.) So this year, I'm planning to skip school and spend the mid-morning visiting seven churches with the kids. I'd love to walk, but what you've heard about LA is true, so we'll drive. I'm sure it won't be quite as poetic as going late at night to the altars of repose, but as I've learned with lots of Catholic traditions, if you've got little kids and you're not willing to be flexible, then you're probably just not going to do much.

Come back tomorrow for how we do Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

* The husband would like to point out that what I have just said is not true at all. Letting it cool down until you can comfortably touch it is what you SHOULD do, but my desire to be DOING SOMETHING combined with my constant assumption that things will probably be fine and my confidence in my ability to heal from minor burns means that I pretty much never wait long enough.