In the Ritual, I Found Meaning

Written By: Kim - Apr• 24•11

I am Catholic and have been since the day my parents baptized me. As we all know, there is a huge difference between being a church-punching pew attendee and a Christian. I learned at 13 what the difference meant and I will save that experience for another post.

This past week is the holiest of weeks in the Catholic Church. My children are both alter servers and because we were in town for spring break, they were scheduled to serve three times in four days, much to their chagrin. We began our Easter weekend with Holy Thursday. This night begins the most powerful, beautiful time in the liturgical calendar. We celebrate Jesus’ Last Supper with is 12 disciples, one of whom will betray him for 30 pieces of silver. This is also when Jesus washes the feet of his 12 disciples to symbolize humility and service to others.

As I sat in the pew, I found Holy Thursday Mass to be a humbling experience. This Mass is not for the faint of heart: it’s lasts two hours, which is twice as long as a regular Sunday Mass. But the ending bespeaks our search for a higher meaning: The altar is stripped bear leaving no cloth covering the marble slab. The Tabernacle, which normally houses the consecrated hosts (the Body of Christ) is removed and placed for adoration in the small chapel until Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. The red sanctuary light (no jokes here), which is on at all times to symbolize that Christ is at the altar, is snuffed out. The Tabernacle door is left wide open so that we all know that this is the time that Jesus was laying bear his ultimate sacrifice for us. His Passion begins when he is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and then soon arrested.

We also attended Good Friday Mass. The African American spiritual song, “Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?” is sung by our choir during this mass and always causes me to crack. I cannot escape listening to this song and not use a Kleenex or three. The message is powerful and really allows me to reexamine how deep my faith is. Would I have denied knowing Jesus or would I have followed him to his crucifixion? I certainly hope I would not have been a coward.

As Easter Morning rose with the sun shining, it was a lovely reminder of Jesus rising from the darkness into the light as He ascended into heaven. The Easter season, as our priest at this morning’s mass reminded us, is the time for us (read me) to ask God to show us how to become a better disciple; to serve others with a generous heart.

I am working on it. Are you?