Bloggerhood Etc. 4/21/14

A stack of stones on a beach.

Photo: Elizabeth Esther

Happy Easter to all! Here’s a roundup of the best Holy Week posts in a special Triduum edition of Bloggerhood Etc.

Best Holy Thursday Posts …

‘Homeless Jesus’ Sculpture Continues to Divide Wealthy Community” by Ryan Grenoble in The Huffington Post.

Becoming Peter, on Betrayal and Faith” by Paddy Gilger, SJ at

Pope Francis Washes the Feet of 12 Elderly and Disabled People” by (via YouTube).

Best Good Friday Posts …

Hanging on the Cross Alongside Jesus” by Marlena Graves at Missio Alliance.

For We Know Not What We Do” by Matthew Paul Turner.

Stripping the Altar” by Cara Strickland at Little Did She Know.

Best Holy Saturday Posts …

If Death is Not the End” by Brandon Andress.

Ebenezer” by Elizabeth Esther.

Homily at the Easter Vigil (Full Text)” by Pope Francis at Salt and Light TV.

Best Easter Sunday Posts …

Celebrating Easter: Why a Watered-Down Resurrection Doesn’t Work” by James Martin S.J. in The Wall Street Journal.

The Radical Easter Proclamation” by Christopher J. Hale in Time.

Greek Orthodox, Catholic Bishops Celebrate Easter” by Brian Lee in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

And the best Easter Egg Hunt …

Pixar Fans Join the Hunt!” by DisneyPixar (via YouTube)

Triduum, a Liturgical Drama in Three Acts

Truddum Triptych

A Triduum Triptych by Stephen Crotts (via Facebook)

Beginning tonight, churches throughout the world will reenact the greatest drama in human history. Like many great dramas, this one will be presented in three acts. But unlike most dramas, which are presented in one showing, this drama will be spread out over three nights. Perhaps it is too great a story to fit in one night.

(Note: I’m using the Catholic liturgies for these three nights as my example. Many Anglicans and Lutheran churches will also observe the Triduum in a similar way, with a few small differences.)

The Paschal Triduum.

Act One: Holy Thursday evening.

Foot washing at last supper

Duccio di Buoninsegna The Washing of Feet (1308 – 11)

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins as usual, with a sung Introit (extolling the glory of the Cross) or a Hymn. The Gloria is sung for the only time during Lent—excluding the Feasts of the Annunciation and Saint Joseph—and church bells are rung. After this, the bells (and organ, if the church has one) are silenced until Easter eve.

The readings at the Liturgy of the Word describe the original Passover celebration (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14), recount the institution of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), and retell the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet (John 13:1-15). After a brief homily, the priest removes his chasuble and washes the feet of twelve parishioners—standing in for the apostles—following Jesus’ example.

The Eucharist follows. After communion, the Reserved Sacrament is carried in procession out of the church and to an Altar of Repose where the faithful wait with Jesus—whom Catholics believe is truly present—for at least the hour that the disciples couldn’t manage. There is no recessional or closing hymn. The altar is stripped privately in silence.

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Mandatum Makes it Mandatory

Foot washing at last supper

Duccio di Buoninsegna The Washing of Feet (1308 – 11)

I hate to begin the Triduum—the three days from Holy Thursday to Easter tracing the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ—with a criticism, but this is one of those predictable times of the year when the self-appointed “liturgy police” miss the point. For example . . .

First, let it be remembered that the foot-washing thing during Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper is an OPTION.  Many problems (and violations of law and good taste and common sense) could be avoided by choosing NOT to do it.  All manner of absurdities are inflicted on God’s people because of this option.

Yes, Father Z, it is an option, but it is an option that should be exercised in the correct way. To suggest, because of some abuses, that it should be moved to the Chrism Mass or dropped altogether seems to miss the point of Christ’s “mandatum” or mandate from which the common name Maundy Thursday derives.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. —John 13:34, NAB

Jesus has just washed his disciples feet, showing them in a dramatic fashion the self-denying love he wishes the disciples to show one another as well.

And though the foot-washing itself is not the commandment, it is an expression of that commandment and thus an option that should be exercised by the celebrant at the Holy Thursday Mass.

To question its inclusion is to question Christ, who washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper.

To question the inclusion of women is to question our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who included two women among the twelve juvenile prisoners whose feet he washed today at a private Holy Thursday Mass.

Yes, Father Z, you are correct in saying we should pay very close attention to what the prayer says.

But St. Paul was also correct when he wrote that “the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

So to you and to Dr. Peters and to the many others “gnat strainers” who think they’re more Catholic than the Pope and more Christian than Christ, I say to try and be a little less like Peter when he refuses his Lord’s request saying “You will never wash my feet,” and more like Peter’s successor who takes his Lord’s message to heart in humbling himself before the least among us knowing that they are Christ.

For as Christ told Peter “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

I pray that those who still don’t get it will eventually understand.

(Hat tip to Millennial Journal)

Into Darkness, Into Light

Last Supper Icon

Simon Ushakov, The Last Supper (1665)

Yesterday, the sanctuary light was already extinguished and the tabernacle was already empty as we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The candles at the altar were carried out with the Blessed Sacrament leaving the altar in darkness.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi, corporis mysterium . . .

The candles were set with the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose. The room was dark, except for the flickering flames that reflected off the ciborium that held Our Lord’s body.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum, veneremur cernui . . .

While back in the church, the altar was stripped and washed in the darkness as the words Our Lord spoke on the cross echoed off the walls.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Today, the church will only be lit by the natural light outside as we commemorate The Passion of Our Lord. We will read the account from St. John’s Gospel, shout “crucify him,” and hear how the sun was blotted out.  Our Lord’s last words will be said:

It is finished.

And bowing his head, he will hand over his spirit.

Veneration Crucifix

Veneration Crucifix (Photo: Klemens Steinhauser CC BY-SA 3.0)

After the Passion Gospel “the wood of the cross upon which hung the world’s salvation” will be brought into the church and we will each walk up and venerate the crucifix.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
have mercy on us.

Candlelight will return briefly with the Reserved Sacrament, only to be extinguished in silence.

Tomorrow, the church will be cold and dark, like the tomb in which Christ lay on that most holy of Saturdays. Then, as the last light of dusk fades to darkness, a fire will be kindled and a candle will be lit.

The Light of Christ.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, to Whom belongs all time and all ages. The Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.


M. Grunewald Resurrection

Matthias Grünewald, Resurrection (c. 1510-15)

This is my latest contribution to “Five-minute Fridays,” a weekly blog carnival hosted by The Gypsy Mama. Today’s prompt is “Light.”