Thursday, April 09, 2020

Holy Thursday

Tonight we begin the celebration of the sacred Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil leading into Easter Sunday. These three days are the most sacred in all of the Church’s Liturgy, and they are best thought of as ONE day, beginning tonight and ending after the Vigil on Saturday. The baptism of the elect is the pinnacle of all the celebrations. We can welcome people who are baptized in another tradition into full communion with the Catholic Church anytime during the year. But we baptize adults ONLY at the Vigil, one day and time in the year, excluding extraordinary circumstances.So, this is REALLY important for our catholic faith.

But given our current reality with all of its health restrictions, this year’s Triduum will be like one never seen before. Instead of experiencing this as a total loss and something over which to be sad, I am encouraging everyone to see this as an opportunity of celebrating the truth of these days in ways that speak to the reality.

God wants us to ACCEPT what is going on and ADAPT our faith to the experience. Christ cannot be contained, nor limited by the Sacraments. Yes, they are absolutely essential because he gave them to us, but we can’t engage in them this year. This is our reality NOW, and God wants us to live in this particular reality. Somehow, by surrendering to this situation in which we are physically separated, Christ is asking us to expand the manner in which we celebrate. In this mysterious expansion, how we experience God will also widen, just a bit perhaps, or maybe quite a lot.

Make the dinner tonight with your family, or yourself, a meal of remembrance of the Meal Jesus gave us the night before He died. During the meal, engage each other in how significant this night is in the life of Christ. How did the food get to the table? Lots of folks are involved. How was it prepared? Who needs to be prayed for? How can this meal nourish us to be more like Christ, by “washing the feet,” a symbolic ritual making present acts of service done in love? If comfortable, wash each other’s feet after the meal. I plan on doing the above by myself, reflecting on those questions, perhaps deepening my perception as to the reality of food: it’s growth, harvesting and preparation.

Keep the rest of the evening a bit quieter than normal, teaching your children, if applicable, why our mood is different these three days. Talk with them about the significance of the number THREE: the Trinity, Jesus being in the tomb three days, roughly, before Resurrección.

On Good Friday, eat lightly if this doesn’t harm your health. Avoid meat. If you are a vegetarian, choose something else that would be a sacrifice. Prayerfully read through one of the Passion accounts. Pause at different moments. Play some reflective music. There are countless suggestions on the Internet for Holy Week music. In your prayer, have a crucifix or cross present and venerate the cross as you see fit.
Once again, choose music and visuals, including movies, that help to enhance the atmosphere. The tv series Jesus of Nazareth is just beautiful and can be watched on Prime. The last two hours speak vividly these three days.

Holy Saturday is best celebrated preparing peacefully the Easter baskets and Easter feast. If you didn’t color eggs yet, now is the time. Bake. Cook. Decorate. Put a string or two of lights up. Why should Christmas and Halloween be the only two days we put up some lights? Just try not to go overboard!!!
In the evening, in honor of the great paschal candle, light a candle and place it in the window for others to see, being safe, of course. Christ is the Light of the world and his Light has destroyed the ultimate darkness we all must face: death. Life never ends... may we all RISE with Jesus in these trying times, leading people into a life of joy, mercy, fellowship and peace.

Fr. Frank

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