Now with 50% more fail!


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Easter: It Ain't Just Bunnies and Eggs

For many, this week isn't just any normal seven-day affair. Millions around the world celebrate (or commemorate) Lent each year, culminating in Holy Week, The Week that Changed History as We Knew It. I'm one of those who observe the events focusing on Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, his eventual arrest, death and Resurrection. I thought I'd post my own Holy Week diary to give you a taste of my faith (though some of you may not see this side all of the time). NOTE: this is just what happens in my church in my town. Others will have different traditions.

Palm Sunday: I always make it a point to attend this Mass. Lots of churches I assume have different ways to distribute palms; ours sets up a red-clothed table at each entrance for the parishioners to pick up one along with the Missalette.

Palm Sunday Mass lasts a little longer than normal; a prayer is said for the palms, and we hear the Gospel (this year, Matthew's account of Jesus entering Jerusalem) before the processional ("All Glory, Laud and Honor"). Mass proceeds as if it were a regular Sunday Mass during Lent, until after the second reading.

The Passion (Matthew's account) is read for the first time this week, with one of our priests reading Jesus' lines, one of the lectors as the narrator, the second lector as the "speaker" (he/she reads the parts spoken by the disciples and Pilate), and the congregation as the "chorus" (we read the crowd who confronts Peter, the chief priests, the crowd, and the centurions). After the reading, it's pretty much your standard Mass.

Monday and Tuesday are nothing momentous. Some people mark Wednesday as the official end of Lent, others refer to it as "Spy Wednesday." I have CCD classes and I plan on utilizing the Holy Week readings in my lesson plans.

Thursday, in essence, starts the most important three days in Christian history; the Triduum (latin for "three days"). For the Catholics in my cluster, you can call it a three-day Mass

Holy Thursday marks the events of the Last Supper. After the readings, twelve parishioners have their feet washed by our priest (the same way the Twelve had theirs washed by Jesus in the Gospel), more hosts are consecrated than normal (the reason follows not too far away), no concluding prayers are said, and Blessed Adoration of the Sacrament is held, with at least one person in church praying until roughly midnight. The altar is stripped of any cloths, chairs, and other various decoration in preparation for

Good Friday, which needs no further explanation, other than you were saved from damnation by Jesus' sacrifice. Catholic-wise, NOT a Mass, rather, a Eucharistic Prayer Service. Why? The host is never consecrated on this day.

This day is more somber than what is usually done in Lent; more prayers, no upbeat songs (save for a line or two in "Were You There?"), John's account of the Passion (always read today), and the Veneration of the Cross.

Good Friday is one of the more dangerous services of the year (the next one happens very soon); the church is crammed, and it gets warm very fast (the fact that G.F. is a day of fasting, it's a pretty potent combination). I've seen more than a few parishioners get dizzy standing during the readings and prayers, and there have been a few cases of people collapsing. I had a close call back in 1999; I got a little dizzy somewhere during the procession of the cross, but was able to sit down in time, avoiding a fainting spell.

One thing that's always amazed me; going into church on Good Friday, the weather's a bit cloudy and such. After services end, the sun is peeking through. God does work in mysterious ways.

The Triduum ends with the Easter Vigil Saturday night, IMO, is hands down THE MASS. The Vigil starts in darkness and ends in light. Also, the longest Mass of the year, but for very good reasons.

As one enters the church, they pick up a candle along with their Missalette, and sit in blackness, trying to make out who you're sitting next to, and playing the "guess how many songs we're singing tonight" game. Using the bathroom before Mass is highly recommended.

The explanation for the candles; the Easter Candle for 2005 is blessed and lit. The flame spreads as each person lights their candle, and finally some light arrives. After a few prayers and one very long solo, the candles are extinguished.

I've had experiences with these things before. Mostly wax falling on your hand, but the crowning moment was when I turned my head into an Easter candle. I won't go any further, but I had some darker patches in a sea of auburn.

There's more readings than normal, but nobody cares. The perennial readings are the Creation, Moses parting the Red Sea, and if we're good, Abraham and Isaac. The Gloria is brought out of Lenten storage, the church lights are turned on, and the mood is light for the first time since Ash Wednesday. Not too soon after, the Lenten Word of Curse is also brought out of storage, and wears its new label as the Gospel Proclamation. The highlight of this portion of the service is Matthew's account of that Sunday morning when the women approach the tomb and witness the Ultimate Miracle. (the Gospels alternate, with Mark's account next year, and John's falling on either day)

The second portion is the initiation of the new members of the church, including baptism. The entire congregation re-affirms their baptismal vows and are sprinkled with holy water. The new parishioners are confirmed, and if of age, recieve Eucharist.

We do light the candles again. :D Then Mass proceeds as normal, with lots of Easter songs. Everybody leaves Mass in a lot better mood than when they came in.

Truly a glorious time of year, moreso than Christmas. Hopefully this look into my observance of Holy Week has enlightened you. And remember, Easter is more than candy and bunnies and eggs; it's the day Jesus performed The Ultimate Miracle, his Resurrection from the dead and saving us all from sin.
Closing words...

Psalm 118, verses 22-23:

"The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone
By the Lord has this been done, it is marvelous in our eyes."

Amen, and Alleluia.
Have a Blessed Easter.


Post a Comment

<< Home