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Monday, April 11, 2011


Have you used your Lent well in preparing for participation in Christianity's High Holy Days?

We Christians, as do all religions, have many holy days of various importance.  We do not designate a few continuous days as our High Holy Days, but we do have three days in a row which ought to be dedicated specifically to prayer and religious remembrance. 

These Three Days, the Triduum, begin with the Solemn commemoration of the Lord's Supper in the Jerusalem upper room on Thursday, the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal and trials of Jesus over night.  On Friday was the presentation to Pilate and to Herod and the Praetorian Guard with their crown of thorns, red robe, and the injuries from heavy whipping.  There finally was a Roman decree of death, the march to the execution site, the nailing to the cross with torture and taunting.  Jesus died, was stabbed, and hurriedly buried.  By early Sunday morning the body of Jesus was gone, and angels were telling the Marys to tell the followers of Jesus that he had gone to the Father and would return to them as he had explained ahead of time. 

What have you done to be ready to attend all these services when we remind ourselves of the most important events of our salvation by Jesus?

Have you arranged for all to be off school and work on Friday and Saturday and not be late for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday?  Do you have simple heat and serve meals planned so that you can fit them in around the services?  Has your family agreed to avoid entertainment and news for these fifty hours from Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil in the dark on Saturday night?

Have you cleaned and selected your clothes to wear for the services?  Please plan on wearing some long sleeved white shirt or coat for the Vigil, so that the newly baptized can see the army in white garments which they will be joining after their baths of salvation. 

Plan to get all your Easter shopping done before Thursday.  If you have to order things for pick up for the Sunday dinner, do the ordering early in the week and try to schedule the actual pick up on Sunday when the main services of the High Holy Days are complete. 

Get all that house cleaning, laundry, and yard work done before Thursday night.  Get all tasks and chores done before then.  Be ready to be focused on our High Holy Days.

Finally, plan what else you are going to do to make Friday and Saturday holy instead of boring times.  Do you want to take a meditative walk, visit other churches, go to the cathedral, make the Way of the Cross in a garden, cemetery, or church?  Would you like to read the different versions of the Passion and Death of Jesus in the four Gospels?

If fasting is an effective spiritual exercise for you, it might be of interest that the entire Lenten fast began with fasting while remembering the time Jesus was dead, from mid-afternoon Friday until after midnight on Saturday or dawn on Sunday.  Fasting might be more meaningful for you if you are aware of its origin in fasting in the absence of Jesus.

Perhaps you would like to use the notes in your Bible and examine the passages in the Hebrew Scriptures which are related to the Passion and Death of Jesus, the various prophecies and psalms.  Maybe you would find Friday and Saturday good times to do simple versions of the Liturgy of the Hours, morning [Lauds], midday [None], evening[Vespers] , and bedtime [Compline] prayers.

Certainly craft projects and outdoor play time are appropriate for children.  Braiding the Palm Sunday palms is traditional.  Boiling and simple egg dyeing while soaking can be time for talking about why we use eggs at Easter to remind us of life coming from a closed cave.

However you want to spend your Triduum time, please plan ahead, so you can be calm, focused, and recollected, able to focus on the words of the service, sing the songs, make the responses, experience the messages and the remembering without the distractions of other things to do during those High Holy Days of Christianity.

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