The Triduum at Home: a Tenebrae Service

The Triduum at Home: a Tenebrae Service

Happy Spy Wednesday! Today we'll be hiding thirty quarters. Here's why:
See the April Booklet for the collects and readings for Spy Wednesday and each day of the Triduum.

We've done the quarters thing for many years now, and love it. New this year, something I've been meaning to do forever: a family at home Tenebrae Service!

Latin for "darkness," Tenebrae is a religious service particular to the Triduum, and featuring a unique triangular candelabra called a “hearse.” In it are fifteen candles, fourteen darker natural wax candles and one white candle. The fourteen candles represent Jesus' followers, the white candle represents Jesus. Fifteen readings are proclaimed, after each of which one of the candles in the hearse is extinguished, symbolizing Jesus' followers abandoning him one by one. At the end, just the white Christ candle is left burning, and it is hidden. The services end with a "strepitus" or "loud noise" made by slamming a book shut or stomping on the floor, symbolizing the earthquake that followed Christ's death. This takes place in total darkness. Then the last candle is returned, representing the light of Christ returning.

Edit: I've updated the image and pdf here to reflect new information from the comments. Thanks all!

A family-friendly interpretation of this practice is to recite the final prayers of the service: The Benedictus, Christus factus est, and the Our Father, after dinner on the evening of Spy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, or Good Friday, extinguishing candles as you go. The last candle is hidden under the table or taken out of the room, then someone can slam a book closed, or everyone can stomp, or all can bang their hands or utensils on the table. Note: This at home Tenebrae service is included in my new book, The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion.

Saint John Cantius Parish in Chicago is live streaming a real tenebrae service at 7:30pm central time tonight, Spy Wednesday. See it here. See here to sign up for reminders for their Thursday and Friday Tenebrae Services.

See their pdf booklet of the complete service here.

My oldest son tells me he can put together a tenebrae hearse for me out of copper pipes. I am very excited about this prospect. Stay tuned to Instagram to see if it happens! But if you DON'T have a bored teenager at home, any candles will do. My original plan was to just make a row of tea lights down the center of the table, far enough apart to keep extras from being blown out by enthusiastic blowers.

Update: THIS HAPPENED! It was so cool. My kids all want to do it again on Thursday and Friday.

Anyone at your house who would enjoy blowing out candles and banging on the table?