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In the Protestant traditions of the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, and our own Reformed tradition, three days, beginning in the evening of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter morning, and the Easter evening vigil are known as the Paschal Triduum or Easter Triduum. In 1955, as part of Pope Pius XII’s reforms, the Roman Catholic Church joined the Protestant tradition of marking these three days as a separate liturgical time. The term, “paschal,” comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which is the noun form of the verb phrase meaning “to pass over.” This particular ‘passing over’ comes from the Exodus story, when the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Israelites when God sent a plague to kill the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. This curse was in response to Pharoah’s repeatedly breaking his promise to free the Hebrew slaves. Passover or Easter. Paschal refers to both the Jewish Passover and Easter.
The word “maundy” is derived from the scripture passage from John’s gospel in which Jesus shares his final Passover meal with his 12 disciples. The Latin word, “mandatum,” is the first word of the commandment he gave his disciples at that Passover meal, translated to Latin from the Greek. The Latin translation is “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos,” meaning: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” On the night of what we call Maundy Thursday, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper with the words: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
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