Easter 2018

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Well what did I think about today. It’s Holy Saturday. I thought about how people would “see” the Easter Christ. Some I thought would see a Christ exit the tomb much as He entered. For some the same body minus the cuts and bruises. Others would still see the scars and disfigurements of the Cross, a body narrowly escaping death. Still others envision the spiritual and symbolic, they see joy. I wonder how many will look for that resurrected Lord. How many will seek and search to see Him. I know the theology is incorrect. But how many will actively seek those signs of life? How many will put themselves in the Apostles shoes.

Finally I wonder, does anyone see fit the need to help roll that stone from the tomb? No, I am not suggesting that someone helped Christ from the tomb. The Gospel explains the guards preventing that. Who thinks of those guards of the tomb on Easter? Who thinks of those that desperately do not want a risen Christ to be seen? Are the remnants of those who fear the Easter Christ present today? I wonder. Not everyone is celebrating, there is an opponent. Let’s briefly shine a light on that.

Everyone sees Christ’s resurrection differently, some don’t see it at all. (Some deny it, and some fear it. I don’t want to write too long.. .)

The fact is that Jesus was victorious, Christ exited that cave. The stone could not contain Him and neither could those guards employed by those against Him. Jesus conquered death. Jesus was not, and cannot be defeated. Everlasting life cannot die and infinity can not be constrained. Not then, not now, not ever. Jesus Christ has risen, He as truly risen. Alleluia Alleluia (there’s a word you haven’t heard in a while)

Tenebrae

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During the Sacred Triduum , the Matins (now the Office of readings)  and Lauds (Morning Prayer) of the Divine Office are often sung in a service known as the Tenebrae service. The service is named Tenebrae because is celebrated in darkness, the name comes from the Latin word for darkness.
During the Matins (now the Office of readings) on Good Friday, one by one, the candles are extinguished in the Church, leaving the congregation in total darkness, and in a silence that is punctuated by the strepitus (a loud clatter intended to evoke the earthquake that was said to happen at the moment of death) meant to evoke the convulsion of nature at the death of Christ. It has also been described as the sound of the tomb door closing.

(adapted from catholic.org)

See the source image

from the Sisters of Carmel:

The Agony in the Garden The name “Tenebrae” has been given because this Office is celebrated in the hours of darkness, formerly in the evening or just after midnight, now the early morning hours. There is an impressive ceremony, peculiar to this Office, which tends to perpetuate its name. There is placed in the sanctuary, near the altar, a large triangular candlestick holding fifteen candles. At the end of each psalm or canticle, one of these fifteen candles is extinguished, but the one which is placed at the top of the triangle is left lighted. During the singing of the Benedictus (the Canticle of Zachary at the end of Lauds), six other candles on the altar are also put out. Then the master of ceremonies takes the lighted candle from the triangle and holds it upon the altar while the choir repeats the antiphon after the canticle, after which she hides it behind the altar during the recitation of the Christus antiphon and final prayer. As soon as this prayer is finished, a noise is made with the seats of the stalls in the choir, which continues until the candle is brought from behind the altar, and shows, by its light, that the Office of Tenebrae is over.

 

Hoshanah in the highest

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Holy, holy, holy
Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Hosanna is a plea for help: Save! Deliver! Rescue! Defend! Preserve!

Sometimes it is good to look back at Judaism when thinking about Christianity. Psalm Sunday commemorates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The chant “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” The word Hosanna is important on this day. Hosanna is a plea for help: Save! Deliver! Rescue! Defend! Preserve! The day also involves processions, and the waving of branches of palm or willow. Willow is used often where palms do not grow. I think England calls this day Willow Sunday. There is a Jewish day that also involves the word Hosanna, and the waving of branches, and processions. It is the last day of Sukkot. As a side note Pope Benedict linked the Transfiguration to Sukkot , the similarity is illustrated with the proposed pitching of tents. The following (including links!) comes from a collection of Jewish websites explaining the origins and customs of the Jewish holy day  “Hoshanah Rabbah” Its a thought, not a commentary. I found the similarity between Hoshanah Rabbah and Palm Sunday curious. The investigation was quick with only a few similarities sketched out for my notes.

Hoshanah Rabbah,  the seventh day of Sukkot is a semi-holiday in its own right. Still counted among the days of Hol Hamoed (intermediate days of the festival), this day’s name means “the great hoshanah.” A hoshanah is a series of seven liturgical poems calling upon God to rescue and redeem the Jewish people, primarily by sending rain. Hoshanah Rabbah was viewed by the rabbis of the Talmud as a mini-Yom Kippur, a day on which the entire Jewish community is judged by God to be worthy or not of the seasonal rains. All seven hoshanot prayers are recited in seven hakkafot, or processions, around the sanctuary. At the conclusion of the seven processions, a special ritual is conducted in which the branches of the willow (the lulav ) are struck upon the ground. This is a symbolic attempt to rid ourselves of any remaining sins (the leaves representing these transgressions) that might influence God’s decision to send the seasonal rains.On the evening following Hoshanah Rabbah, the festival of Shemini Atzeret begins. While for many Jews, Hoshanah Rabbah is the last day one shakes the lulav and etrog and dwells in the sukkah , a number of traditional Jews continue to dwell in the sukkah through Shemini Atzeret.

The Lulav: a bundle of branches representing three species — willow, myrtle and palm — which are shaken together with the etrog on Sukkot.

 

 

Purple and Green

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One of the customs of Saint Lucy’s Day (shortly after Christmas) was to plant some wheat seeds. The plants will then be presented in procession at Easter, it’s not seen everywhere but it is a custom. The gospel today mentions a seed that is planted and dies, but then bears much fruit. It is the reminder of the Passion of Christ. Passiontide begins today, and this day is marked by the covering of the church’s statues. The Church begin its process of dying, so that the Light may be seen at Easter. The artist’s Christo and Jean-Claude use to wrap things, buildings and such. They were famous, I wonder if they have ever wrapped statuary during Passiontide in Church? I wonder if they found it inspirational.

Today’s vigil Mass occurred on a saints feast day, it was Saint Patrick’s Day. On this twilight there was an abundance of green in the pews. What a contrast with the congregation tinted green. Such a contrast against the Church and clergy’s violet. Violet is the color of the Lenten Season. The contrast of green and purple are so similar of another day, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Both Patrick’s day and Mardi Gras are days of great revelry. They are days of party and drink and music. Patrick’s day celebrates heritage more than a saint, Mardi Gras celebrates itself more than Lent. Funny how Patrick’s day could not be quieted to celebrate Passiontide. Patrick himself would have approached Passiontide with great sobriety and reverence. Fat Tuesday used to end with the strict fasting season that began on Ash Wednesday. It’s hard to pass on a good time. It’s hard to be that seed buried, to succumb to a death that promises life.

In pondering Passiontide, ponder a war. The war in Syria. Think of the death and destruction and greed and hatred and the pain and the horror that exists there today. Also think of when the last bomb falls and the last vulgarity spoken and the last bit of hatred spewed, when everything once worth possessing becomes worthless. One is this season, the other the beginning of the next. That is the great battle of this season, it is the great battle between God and Satan. It is no small event, but some miss that. There is a battle that occurs before the Cross, and Passiontide is a reminder of that battle. Palm Sunday is next Sunday, the parade is about to begin