Twenty-three years ago I experienced my first Holy Thursday liturgy. I remember parts of it, other parts are beginning to fade. I decided to record what I still remember and post it here tonight on this Holy Thursday. Technically, it’s Good Friday now but only by five minutes.

After the Holy Thursday liturgy a few people stayed in the pews to watch with Him. Fr. — had stripped the altar, had set up the tabernacle, palm fronds around it in the dimly lit, darkened nave. Hushed voices became softer and softer until they fell silent as the last stragglers left, leaving just three of us there. In the tabernacle the Lord was preparing to face the ordeal of ordeals. In the pews were His three disciples, fighting to stay awake, nodding off, not understanding what was taking place then, having no idea what would be taking place in a matter of hours. 

I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to take in everything, everything I saw or heard or felt. I wanted to hold onto it, to remember. I heard snores behind me. I grew more determined to stay awake and watch.

At nearly midnight, the priest entered the sanctuary with two altar servers, one on either side of him, holding long-handled candle lighters which, in the dimlit darkness, looked exactly like spears. They’ve come to arrest Him! I watched, unable to stop them. I looked around to see if anyone else saw what I did, but they were sound asleep. I was alone, beholding the unfolding scene. 

The altar servers stood holding their spear-candlelighters while the priest stepped forward and bent down to open the tabernacle door and lifted the Lord from His place of repose. Then he walked slowly away, the two trailing behind with their spears. They left through the sacristy door. The tabernacle door was left open, exposing the emptiness within. All was silent—except for the snores behind me. I wanted to turn and shake them awake. They arrested Him! They took Him away! Did you not see? Why didn’t you help me? Why didn’t we stop them, why didn’t we help Him?

Ah, get behind me, Satan! “Christ was obedient unto death.” And so must we all be. 

I’ve been Catholic now since April 1996 and all I can say is thanks be to God and praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ! Lord, have mercy on us. Make our hearts like unto Thine. Amen!

Image credits: The Agony in the Garden, Luca Giordano; The Taking of Christ, Caravaggio, c. 1602. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Tonight I watched EWTN Live on Ash Wednesday as Fr. Mitch Pacwa interviewed Susan Tassone, author of many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Her latest book, The Saint Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls, is due to be released in April. Tassone made a study of Saint Faustina’s writings on Purgatory in her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, and collects them in her book, along with prayers and novenas. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of this.

Whenever I hear a train whistle I will think of this article

After watching the show I searched the internet for more about the Holy Souls and stumbled across this article at the Divine Mercy website and I want to share it with you: This is the Sound of a Lost Soul. I will never again hear a train whistle without thinking of this article and of all the despairing souls all over the world, so much in need of our prayers. Lord, have mercy.

Thanks for reading and may your Lenten season be one of deepening holiness, prayer, and interior life. God bless.

Taking a break from collecting some thoughts for writing, watching this wonderful talk by Dr. Brant Pitre: Jesus & the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. This is a good video to watch during Lent, preparing for Passover. Will also be watching The Passion of the Christ with the study guide this time, a first for me.

Thank you for stopping by. Lent continues and I’m staying off of social media except for posting here at the blog and answering necessary emails. May this season of preparation bring you closer to our Lord. God bless you! Peace be with you.

PS: Hey, see that tabernacle? It’s empty during Dr. Pitre’s talk. Would that more parishes would take care to do this when holding non-liturgical events in the worship space, if no more suitable space is available, such as a parish hall.

emptytabernacle

Into the desertI used to think of a desert as a flat sandy place with some dunes thrown in because when I thought desert, I thought Sahara. But I know now that a desert is not flat but uneven, always changing, hard to move through. There may be mountains, valleys, canyons that sneak up on you. There may be no rain. There may be rain so sudden and violent that riverbeds that seem dry from ancient times suddenly become raging torrents. Rocks may be sharp as razors. Snakes may be waiting to strike. Scorpions waiting to sting. A devil waiting to tempt.

A devil is always waiting to tempt. The devil himself was waiting for Christ; for someone as weak and insignificant as myself, there is probably only a minor demon. Maybe only a minor minor minor demon. Maybe I don’t even rate a demon of low estate but am left to my own weakness and weaknessses.

Easter will mark the beginning of my nineteenth year as a Catholic. There have been ups and downs. I have felt close to the Lord, I have felt, if not far away, then not as close. I have been faithful in my prayer life, I have let my prayer life slip, and that slipping has made itself known in every aspect of my life. I have felt strong, and I have been brought face to face with what weakness really means and with the realization that, indeed and contrary to what I had always secretly believed, I am a mere mortal, after all. (Okay, I know our souls are immortal. I just mean, I used to think I’d live forever. In this life. I was indestructible. I’d always be young, never sick, always strong, never weak. Ya know?)

So what do I plan to do for Lent? Nothing heroic, as you will see.

What will I do for Lent?

Prayer

I plan to pray daily, using ONE of the numerous devotionals I’ve collected. And pray the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. All readers of and visitors to the blog and all Twitter contacts are included in my prayers. Even those whose names I do not know; the One Who needs to know knows who you all are already.

Fasting

I’ve already cut down on the amount I eat, elimnated much I don’t need, and will be following the Church’s guidelines for fasting. But there are other appetites: the internet and social media. I won’t be interacting on social media during Lent (I will pass along prayer requests), though I plan to post at the blog, and those posts will be tweeted automatically.

Almsgiving

And I will be choosing a charity or a cause and will set aside or donate money each week for that cause. I may choose a different cause or charity each week. That’s something to ponder on and pray about.

Into the desert

Looking up at the desert hills,
knowing danger lurks in this place,
listening for the Voice not easily heard,
feeding my soul upon His Word,
praying to meet Him face to Face,
bending my will to what He wills.

Ash Wednesday 2015