The Paschal Triduum is an ancient service leading to Easter, beginning with the liturgy of Maundy Thursday, followed by Good Friday, and concluding with the Vigil on Saturday. It has long been an important tradition at Austin Seminary involving faculty and students; it is often the first time students have encountered this service in three parts.
This year, worship will be online and we invite you to experience the Triduum with us, April 1-3.
April 1, Maundy Thursday, 11:10 a.m. CDT
April 2, Good Friday, 11:10 a.m. CDT
April 3, The Easter Vigil 7:00 p.m. CDT
This year’s online Vigil includes "The Hole in the Heart of God: A Paschal Vigil in Text and Poetry," pairing the scripture readings with poetry by Professor Paul Hooker.
Only poets can do justice to the Christmas and Easter stories …
– Reinhold Niebuhr
The Hole in the Heart of God: A Paschal Vigil in Text and Poetry
by Paul Hooker
Each Holy Saturday, Christians gather at twilight for a paschal vigil that awaits the dawn of Easter Day. They set a new fire, and from that fire light the paschal candle that will burn in the sanctuary throughout the coming year. They read passages of Scripture that recount God’s engagement with the world from creation through the crucifixion to the resurrection, a story of brokenness and redemption, alienation and reconciliation. The vigil concludes with the baptism of new converts to the faith and the celebration of the Eucharist. The vigil is ancient, reaching back into the earliest days of the Church, but is still practiced in Christian communities. Through the myth of the vigil, past and future are gathered into the mystery of the present.
Judaism, too, has its mythic reflection on God’s engagement with creation and redemption. Kabbalah, the great tradition of Jewish mystical speculation, holds that in the eternal moment before creation ’Ein Sof, the Infinite One who is all in all, withdraws or contracts so that a space might come into being where all that is not the Infinite One might exist, a sort of “hole” in the being of God. Like the Christian paschal readings, Kabbalah tells the story of creation, brokenness and redemption, alienation and reconciliation. Like the vigil, Kabbalah gathers past and future into the mystical present.
The Hole in the Heart of God is an effort to read these two definitive myths alongside each other, allowing each to inform and deepen the other. The readings in the vigil are drawn from the (mostly) common traditions of Judaism and Christianity. The poems draw on both Christian and Jewish mysticism (especially Kabbalah) as they reflect on the readings, in something of the same way as early Christian commentaries reflected on both Old and New Testaments, and as the Talmud reflects on the Torah. While the setting is explicitly Christian, it is the intent of this work to illustrate poetically the power of myths mutually to inform each other, creating thereby a new experience of thought or worship, enhancing each with the infusion of the other.