Please don’t get me wrong, more than anything, I wish I could go to Mass tonight. Tomorrow, I will be wishing I could join my Church family in kissing Jesus’s feet and venerating the cross of his suffering and death, the cross of my salvation. I will miss beginning our Easter Vigil together, that moment of anticipation before it starts when we are chilled by the Michigan Spring twilight, eager for the warmth of the sacred fire. Sometimes you don’t properly appreciate what you have until you have to go without.
But I have to admit; I am kind of excited by the opportunities present in this time of social isolation. In going without our usual Liturgical Celebrations in our communal church, we can’t gather and watch as the priests, deacons, choir, and servers enact the Mass and other Liturgies on our behalf. We have to actively choose how we will commemorate these three most Holy Days. We have to bring our participation back to our homes, our domestic church.
The Holy Triduum is not three days of different liturgies. It is one liturgy that takes place over three days (with breaks built in!). In a time when we are set apart from one another physically, we can spiritually set apart these three days from all the others. In a time when the days are starting to run together, and friendly memes remind us to change from our day pajamas to our night pajamas, we can consciously and deliberately choose to make these days stand out.
This year, in ways that reach back to the roots of Catholicism, we choose how to participate, and it may be as simple as dressing up for dinner tonight and reading the Gospel before starting and discussing it during dinner.
It may be that as a family, we choose to wash each other’s feet. We can say with our words and our actions, “Christ washed his disciple’s feet in an act of love, service, and humility. I wash your feet because I love you as Christ loves us.”
Maybe, when we recall how Jesus instituted the Mass through the Last Supper, we can remember that in order to participate in the Mass, we need priests. Priests are men who love God so much that they are willing to forgo their own families so they can be Fathers to us. We can thank God for these priests, who, in all their messy humanity, make it possible for us to transcend time and space and be present at the Last Supper. They need our prayers.
Perhaps, we can make some unleavened bread. When we give thanks for it, we can make a spiritual communion opening up our hearts just like we should each time we meet at the altar.
This is the evening when Jesus prayed in the garden, instead of heading to bed, maybe we can take some time to sit in the silence and keep him company.
And maybe, just maybe, we can deliberately allow ourselves to be humbled through this time of social isolation so that when we return to the communal church we won’t be the same people we were when we last left it on the unsuspecting Sunday in March. Maybe next time we will sit in the front row so we can be as close to Jesus as possible. Maybe we’ll arrive early and stay late so as to spend as much time as possible with Jesus. Maybe we’ll listen more closely to the words of the Eucharistic Prayer and be led more deeply into the liturgy. Maybe we will remember that even after this time of separation is over the Catholic Church is the church of “both/and” and we will maintain our immersion in our faith in both our domestic church and our communal church.
However you spend these next three days, please know that you are in my prayers. May God keep you and your family safe.
If you would like some ideas on entering into the Holy Triduum more deliberately, please feel free to visit our school website at www.sttwaylandmi.com where we have collected resources from all over to guide you.
Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.