Next Week is Holy Week in most Christian Churches, and there are so many things I love about it!! It begins with Palm Sunday and ends with good Saturday and there are only about a million things that go on in between.
I would call it almost a universal 7 day retreat within a 40 day retreat, and it can be intense and prayerful as you are willing to make it.
Palm Sunday is basically the only mass all year that you will actually receive give aways BEFORE you go into Mass. I keep thinking the Vatican is going to change that someday, because we all spend the majority of the Homily making little crosses out of the palm branches. I happen to be very good at this!!! The Gospel reading for this day is very long, but it is usually broken up like a play and EVERYONE gets to play a part. I love this. It really puts you in the scripture and reminds you just where you would be if you had been alive during the time of Jesus. (Spoiler: We pretty much all would be screaming "crucify Him" because none of us are that good, and we do it today everytime we sin.)
Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are nice, and it is always a good thing to check out daily mass on those days. Its also good preparation for some serious Spiritual Work outs which occur the rest of the week.
Holy Thursday is one of my most FAVORITE church services in the Catholic Church all year. IT is like the birthday of the Eucharist! The readings are all referencing Jesus instructions in the Gospel of John and at the last supper to, "Eat my flesh, and drink my blood." We are reminded that Jesus is going to become the Pascal Lamb and we are going to be like the Israelites celebrating passover, eating Lamb!!! (I know that might sound lame, but it is super beautiful!! I promise. Really.)
Then the most beautiful thing happens. We hear about how Christ washed the feet of his apostles at the last supper, and so the Priest or Priests WASH THE FEET of the parishioners!!! What a demonstration of SERVANTHOOD. In my parish, all the priests do it, and some will wash the feet of pre-selected members of the church at the front, and then other priests will wash the feet of pre-selected people around the church. So everyone can really witness this event.
I have to be honest here folks. I have sort of a foot fettish. The idea of ANYONE washing my feet, is totally out of my comfort zone. Rest assured though, in case you are totally unfamiliar with this, EVERYONE who is getting their feet washed comes with the most impeccably clean feet I have ever seen. So very little is actually accomplished here - it is mostly a symbolic washing. But still I can't do it. Maybe someday. But I am not there yet.
Good Friday, is like the MOST SOLEMN DAY of the entire year. In my family growing up, there was absolutely no FUN allowed on Good Friday. This proved to be difficult sometimes, because this often was a day off tied in with Easter Break and there were always invitations for beach days, or boating trips, or just play dates in general. But that was NOT happening.
Stations of the Cross is usually held around 12:00 PM in most parishes on this day. This is a beautiful re-enactment and reading of the final moments before Christ's Crucifixion. Not the most uplifting events, but definitely powerful to remember. Doing on the ACTUAL day of Crucifixion, just makes it seem more powerful and an opportunity to remember Christ's sacrifice.
At 3:00 PM there is a special Good Friday service as this is the hour that Christ died. There is NOT Mass on this day, but the Parish does reserve Communion from the previous night's Holy Thursday service, (as my Husband likes to comment; Left-overs.) and we once again have the opportunity for our Spiritual Food.
Then a wooden Cross is presented to the congregation and all are invited to come forward and kiss the cross. This is Symbolic of the Gift that the cross has provided to us all, which is no less than ETERNAL LIFE.
It sucks. IT is UNCOMFORTABLE. I always feel totally STUPID walking up to the front of the church and KISSING a cross. But seriously, I am super happy that I didn't get nailed to it. Because I hear that is the punishment for sin, and that thankfully I don't actually have to pay the price. Right??? Can I get an AMEN for that???
Holy Saturday is like an anxious day of waiting. I usually still feel a little somber from the day before's events. But I also have this hopeful anticipation of what is about to COME.
Keep in mind in our Catholic Faith we have ZERO alleluias's during Lent. The Church has been bare for the past 6 weeks. We have all fasted, and abstained, and sacrificed, and practiced good works for as long as we are able too. (Some of us are not able too for very long.)
But Saturday Evening the ENTIRE church is about to SERIOUSLY PARTY!!! (Church style - of course.) Saturday Evening is the Easter Vigil, and the Church pulls out ALL THE STOPS. I mean there are like a million readings from the Bible, new Catholics are officially welcomed into the Church, and the Alleluia's are coming out everywhere!!
Easter is the NEXT day and it not only is awesome, it FEELS amazing. I swear the air actually feels fresh, and new and it seems like the entire Earth is rejoicing.
AND ALL OF THIS IS COMING NEXT WEEK!!!
I am so excited!! Are you??!