Our civilization is crumbling from within, and one of the reasons is no-fault divorce. Many celebrities seem to mock marriage, with multiple extravagant weddings, tabloid-reported affairs and public court battles for custody of children. Perhaps their struggle is greater than the average person’s, as they try to balance fame, demanding careers and their private lives. Nevertheless, what started in Hollywood forty years ago is the norm today in many communities.
Christ truly died on the Cross. It was not faked, and it was not a trick or sleight of hand. His death was the real thing, involving pain, aloneness, and removal from the living. Yet when He bowed His thorn-crowned head and uttered the earth-shaking words, “It is finished” (John 19:30), it was not His life that was finished but rather the reign of death.
As a Protestant, I believed that Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus, but she had no place in my life. She was a disciple, but so were many others. I do not recall a sermon on Mary’s fiat, her loving care for Jesus as his mother, or her devotion to him all the way to the cross. Now I feel how tragic it is that Mary is ignored by so many who love her son, especially when imitation of Christ is at the heart of Christian practice.
In my experience of the Triduum at Saint Vincent Archabbey, a particularly powerful part of it has been the empty Tabernacle. Following the painful moment at midnight on Holy Thursday when Jesus is taken away from us and the Tabernacle is left empty, my attention is repeatedly drawn to the gold tabernacle with its open door.
One of my favorite parts of Holy Thursday is the extended period of adoration after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the altar of repose. That time is the commemoration of Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where the Apostles join Him and He asks Peter, James and John to stay awake with Him one hour.
You’re in church, and you’ve just heard a reading from the Old Testament and a reading from one of the letters in the New Testament. They must be very important, because there’s a special place for reading them at the front of the church, and there’s a special list of which readings go with which days.