Holy Thursday

Mary McCormack's photo.
Holy Thursday has arrived! It is an interesting day in the ending of the Lenten Season. It starts out with the Passover celebration, begins some important sacraments for our Church and ends in the tragedy that begins our life! A lot of endings, beginnings, and eternity all in one. It is a sobering feeling at the end of Holy Thursday Mass when the Blessed Sacrament is taken away as was Christ taken forcibly from the garden. You actually feel the void of an ’empty’ church, especially when we arrive for the Good Friday services the next day. I have to feel sorry for people who have never experienced the entirely of this week in the Church as it truly enhances the joy of Easter.

A pastor gave an interesting viewpoint on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. I always wondered that greed could have a long-time follower and friend of Jesus do such an awful deed. Our pastor said that to him, yes, greed was the motivating reason behind Judas betraying our Lord but he thinks that, perhaps, Judas thought it wouldn’t actually be a problem. Why? Our pastor wondered if Judas wasn’t figuring on Jesus ‘disappearing’ as He had other times when he was being sought and would do so this time, too. It would leave Judas with the ‘free’ money and not hurt Jesus. Judas tried to out think God and, as we all know, this was the one instant that Jesus was prepared to be ‘found’. Maybe that is why the guilt of Judas was doubly great as his great desire for money caused this to happen to Jesus. Not Biblical, of course, but surely an interesting thought on the subject.

Makes me wonder how many times we have gone with the greed and turned our own backs on Jesus and shunned all that He suffered to save us.

Happy Easter! How Did Easter Find You?

Happy Easter! How Did Easter Find You?

Easter is our exclamation point to Lent. How low-key a day it would be if we didn’t have our Way of the Cross with Christ for the forty days preceding it. Easter is a time of great joy but how minimized it becomes if Easter is prepared for without a thought for Lent.

Some of the best advice I have heard regarding Lent is to use the time to change one, small aspect of ourselves. It sounds easy but it would take you forty days to make even a tiny improvement in life time habits.

Lent begins with the reminder of our ultimate demise from this world We are dust and will surely return to said state when our physical bodies die. Ash Wednesday has a way of imprinting this thought directly on our minds

I feel sorry for those who do not find their way to Stations of the Cross during Lent. How will they find their way if they do not follow Christ on that long, painful walk. Stations of the Cross seem to take up endless Friday evenings as we have to rush through dinner, bundle up tired children and often hold sleeping toddlers before Benediction is over. At the Recessional of the last Stations of the Cross for Lent, the time seemed all too short as I suddenly realized the sad sweetness I had been witness to for six consecutive weeks but failed to savor sufficiently. There was a sense of loss not relief that Stations of the Cross were over for Lent.

I also feel sorry for those who do not go that final path with Christ during Holy Week. How can you fully understand the celebration of Easter if you haven’t been to Holy Thursday and shared in the last Supper. What comparison do you have between sorrow and joy until you have watched the altar stripped of everything that reminds us of Jesus? How can you remain dry-eyed as the sanctuary light is extinguished while the choir intones for the last time that evening, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken Me?”

Good Friday is somber. Christ is judged and crucified. He is not in the tabernacle. There is no Sacrifice of the Mass. We only bow to the altar in remembrance of what we had only the day before. We miss Him now that He is not present. We venerate the crucifix but it seems so little compared to the circumstances that brought us to this moment. We fast and avoid meat yet how little a sacrifice it really is this day!

We find our way through the dark of the evening and the dimness of the church on Holy Saturday. There is no light, no Holy Water, no Sanctuary Light. We come to an empty church, seeking fulfillment. The momentum of the evening starts to build as a flicker of light indicates the kindling of the Easter Fire and the new water is blessed and the fonts are filled again. The organ which has been silent since Holy Thursday comes alive again at the Gloria. Altar boys happily replenish the flowers and altar cloths on the altar. The new fire has given us a new light, another chance to make a difference in our lives before the next Lent comes around. We hope that the highs and lows between the sorrows and joys of the Lent and Easter Season will see us through the coming year, secure in God’s grace.

Good Friday – April 18, 2014

Good Friday - April 18, 2014

O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

2. What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
‘Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

3. What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

Thought For Good Friday . . .

Thought For Good Friday . . .

This day eternal Love, for me
Fast nail’d unto a cursed tree,
Rending His fleshly veil, did through
His side
A way to paradise provide.
This day Life dy’d; and dying, overthrew
Death, sin, and Satan too.
Oh happy day!
May sinners say:
But day can it be said to be
Wherein we see
The bright Sun of celestial light
O’ershadowed with so black a night?

Sir Edward Sherburne: Good Friday (17th century)

Good Friday . . .

Good Friday . . .

“Come, let us praise Him. Who was crucified for us. For Mary beheld Him on the tree and said, ‘Even if Thou dost endure the cross, Thou art my Son and my God.'”

Byzantine Triodion, Matins, Kontakion. (St. Romanos the Melodist, 6th Century)