During the season of Lent, I am leading a group study on baptism and the triduum at the Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City. We meet on Wednesday nights in English and Thursday nights in Spanish. I am only posting the English handouts on the blog, but can provide Spanish translations on request.
Week 1: Wednesday, March 12
Water and Spirit: An Introduction To Baptism
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” John 3:5
- What do you think and feel upon hearing this story?
- Have you ever thought of baptism as initiation? Initiation into what? How does it compare to other initiations you have experienced?
- Euphemius and the other candidates never even see a Eucharist celebrated before their baptism—what does this mystery create?
- What are the symbols used in the story—what do they symbolize?
- This story describes the tradition that shapes our liturgy. But the tradition and liturgy (then and now) are based on certain beliefs we hold to be central. How does our baptism illustrate our beliefs?
- Does your baptism shape your identity? How so?
What about this “Triduum” thing?
Triduum means “three days” and it begins when Lent ends on Thursday evening, lasting through Sunday evening, encompassing Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. “The Triddum, the very soul of our year, is what it is because of the baptizing: there is the passion, the dying and the rising of the Lord Jesus, met in our midst. There is the encounter with these death-dealing yet life-giving waters that forever define each of us as Christian and all of us as church.”
“Even more than the participation in any of the liturgies…the manner in which this time is kept by individuals and by households will establish the Triduum as a holy time and will make the Vigil with its baptizing the center of our year. Fasting, praying (alone or with large or small groups), freedom from work when possible, time for the reading of scripture, an atmosphere of quiet: these being to make the Triduum presence in our lives, a presence to be received and honored and attended to. Likewise, the hours of Sunday need to have something more than “it’s all over” to them. The element of feasting, of some once-a-year foods, of another kind of restfulness filled with the sounds of the Vigil’s alleluia bring Easter Sunday into the home.”
- What traditions did you practice in your home or church growing up leading up to Easter? Who passed them onto you, and what did they mean to you?
- What traditions do you continue to practice today—why?
- How might celebrating the Triduum shape us?
Gabe Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum (Chicago: Liturgy Training Pubns, 1981), 107-9.
Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum, 1.
Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum, 6.