Thursday, April 13, 2006

on holy thursday

Instead of trying to be original, I'm going to link to a couple of blogs whose writers reflect on this holy day better than I can.

A Lutheran friend of mine explains why Lutherans call it Maundy Thursday instead of Holy Thursday, which is what we Catholics call it. The term, she writes, "derived from the Latin 'mandatum,' meaning 'commandment,' because it was on this night that Jesus gave his disciples his greatest commandment: to love one another."

Liz also includes a beautiful text (indeed, a prayer) by Petr Eben that is worth reading if you want to reflect on the meaning of this first day of the triduum.

Whispers in the Loggia's Rocco Palmo describes an ancient custom of Holy Thursday night that has been passed down through the years, in which pilgrims travel from church to church to keep vigil at the repositories of the Eucharist (which is held for services on Good Friday, when there is no consecration).

And tomorrow, he writes, "Communione e Liberazione [the youth movement called Communion and Liberation] continues its annual custom of the large-scale public Way of the Cross in cities all around the world. The most prominent of these is, arguably, New York, where the procession crosses the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and ends at Ground Zero." Having recently fought back tears as I stared into the pit that is Ground Zero, I can only imagine how powerful that moment will be.

As for me, tonight I am giving the first reading at Mass, which is from Exodus. It is God's instructions to his people in Egypt to slaughter a lamb and cover their doorposts with blood so that he will "pass over" them as he ravages the people of Egypt and kills their first-born children. In short, it is the founding of Passover, and so my thoughts go out to my Jewish friends, especially one who is converting to Judaism and celebrating Passover with special meaning this year. Since Holy Thursday is essentially about Jesus' celebration of Passover on the last night of his life, it is a good reminder that we are bound by a common tradition.


I just have to add this. Writing about the Exodus passage has put a song in my head. I don't know what it's about, really, but it's one of the most beautiful ballads out there, and the lines running through my head are:

"Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there."

It's called A Song For You, by Gram Parsons off his GP album. Emmylou Harris sings backup, hauntingly.

Now I'm off to run errands, hummingly.


liz said...

Your evening plans sound lovely, Emilie. Seth and I are going to start a new family tradition and make a (modified) seder meal together. I love the Passover tradition!

Happy Holy/Maundy Thursday.

Emilie said...

That sounds nice! I hope it went well.