GOOD MORNING WORLD
It seems I am being led this week to focus on faith. Obviously it is the Holiest of weeks in our ChristianChurches. Personally it is a time to reflect on my faith and how I am living it and what changes I wish to make. Supposedly that is what Lent is for in general.
Lent is a period of self-examination and self-denial. It is observed in various ways depending on your faith. Catholics in general are asked to go back to the abstinence of not eating meat on Fridays. Often the faithful will give up a favorite food or activity for the 40 days to honor Christ’s desert experience.
I am no expert on Maundy Thursday and find the differences interesting. When I was a Protestant we washed each others feet during a church service on this day. We celebrate with a church service on Good Friday as well. The next Holy day the Protestant’s celebrate is Easter.
The Catholic Church on the other hand considers that Lent is over on Holy Thursday.
On Holy Thursday there is a special Mass in Cathedral Churches, attended by as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood. At this ‘Chrism Mass’ the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation. The bishop may wash the feet of twelve of the priests, to symbolize Christ’s washing the feet of his Apostles, the first priests.
The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus’ washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest’s stripping and washing of the altar. Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.
The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church’s esteem for Christ’s Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain ‘entombed’ until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas.
I find it interesting that there is no Mass on Good Friday in the Catholic Church. There is a service though and I remember one Good Friday service we attended where we all were invited to kiss the cross. How powerful that was to me. It was very hard as well.
I think Holy Thursday is a terribly important day for all Christians. It is the day our Lord said His final good-bye to the human part of His being. While He did not die until the next day He let his apostles know how He wanted to be remembered as He told them of His impending death.
I cannot help it, I go back to choice. What if He could have chosen differently that Thursday night in the Upper Room? There would be no Christianity would there? We are Christians as we are followers of Christ are we not? The choice He made to complete the prophecy and lead His followers by instruction of the bread and wine still amazes me. I cannot even comprehend the sacrifice.
I mentioned this to a Priest once and he said of course I could not understand. God was not – ANTHROPOMORPHIC! Well that was a fifty cent word I had to look up. I’ll save you the energy it means, “considering something such as a god or animal or an object as having human qualities.” God is not human so I could not truly understand is the simple explanation he was trying to give to me! That is the mystery of faith!
That is also a good thing as if I had to make the choice of feeding my friends with bread and wine knowing I was to die a horrible death the next day I think I would not have cooked! I am all too brokenly human.
…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…