Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why is This Night Different Than Any Other Night?

So usually with this blog (and some other blogs I've written) I will go ahead and say that I let content suffer for humor's sake. I know it shouldn't be that way, kids. But let's face it. Catholicism doesn't always have a punchline (though why can I now think of so. many. here! ;) Or let's just say maybe it's not always appropriate ;) But I am digressing SO far off the track like if Lindsay Lohan and Kate Gosselin were train-engineers (train. wreck. Am I right?? God bless 'em).

I wanted to write this post to share a little bit about what I've already been experiencing this Holy Week with the help of our Jewish roots as Catholics. I know I have a couple friends who read this blog (Holler!) who practice Judaism- so I hope I do their traditions justice as the Seder meal and readings from the Torah have been kind of clutch for me this week.

The other morning I went to Adoration and just kind of sat in front of Jesus and said: "This should be enough, Jesus. That you gave Yourself to us as Bread, that I have the opportunity to sit in front of You while on should be enough." I said this a.) while quickly following it with: "HA! But somehow it's not for me!" Go figure. I suck. b.) not knowing that this is pretty much what the Dayenu is in the Seder meal!

Via Twitter (viva la Twitter!) someone who I follow began tweeting parts of the Dayenu and I realized this was totally an answer to my prayer that morning. The Dayenu (which I didn't know existed until I saw it on the social networking site...WHY AREN'T YOU ALL ON TWITTER YET?? ;) is part of the "Go and learn" section of the Seder meal (according to Wikipedia. Hey, at least I did my research this time! ;) and it is essentially fifteen stanzas of examples of things the Lord did to deliver the Israelites. The idea is any one of those saving acts would have been enough for us to praise God. But He always did more. And does more.

Partly because I am lazy, but also partly because the symbol means alot to me, I chose to write my latest paper for one of my classes on the use of light during the Easter Vigil. How convenient, right? Like I said, I am lazy. Over achiever, I am not. But, the use of light has always been a sign for me from God. Something He uses to answer prayer for me, something I always am moved to praise Him for. (Plus, the Easter Vigil is SO FULL of symbols of light...15 pages worth...just like THAT! ;)

I mean, we enter the Church in the DARK. We have a FIRE outside and CANDLES. The first reading is the story of Creation- "Let there be Light!"

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Tonight begins the Triduum- Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Why do we call it the TRIduum if there are 4 days involved, you ask? Good question. Because we follow the Jewish form of keeping time. Shout out #1!

During the Seder meal, the youngest child present ritually asks: "Why is this night different than any other night?" This is part of the Mah Nishtahnah (again, me with the Wikipedia) "The Four Questions" where the reason and history for the Passover rite is inquired about and celebrated.

Why is Holy Thursday different than any other night? For so many reasons. I will let you come up with some yourself, but some of the basics:

1.) Usually Mass can be celebrated at any time by a priest if he would like to say Mass. On Holy Thursday, only one Mass is said (well, except for the Chrism Mass where the oils for the Vigil are blessed, but that's only with the Bish) and it's the one in the evening with the whole congregation.

2.) The first reading is from Exodus and is the Lord telling Moses and Aaron how they are to celebrate Passover. The Psalm speaks of our cup as a communion with God. It is interesting to note (I think!) that it is in St. Paul's epistle that we hear Christ's words "Do this in rememberance of Me". We don't use our actual account of the Institution of the Eucharist to parallel the Passover. While Jesus in the Gospel is preparing to celebrate Passover with His apostles, the Gospel we hear is the Washing of the Feet. Not the Institution of the Eucharist.

I can't tell you why. I'll leave that up to your reflection. I just thought it interesting to note.

3.) Then we have the Washing of the Feet...everyone's favorite highlight of Holy Thursday! Kind of love seeing the priests humble themselves in this way, no? And its humbling for the 12 of the congregation too, I'm sure.

4.) The tabernacle is the place of repose for the Eucharist we will receive on Good Friday. I mean, the tabernacle is always the place of repose, but we make a big deal of it tonight. We all get to process over if we want and stay with Jesus like we were in the Garden with Him (We love the role playing drama, remember!)

Whew! That was way more than I expected to write about Holy Thursday. I wanted to write more about the Easter Vigil on Saturday! But I will just write this one thing I noted. In keeping with our Judeo-Christian theme, I will submit that part of The Exultet that is sung at the Easter Vigil is a nod to the "Four Questions" referenced earlier. Where the Mah Nishtahnah asks "Why is this the night?" our Exultet proclaims:

"This is the night when you first saved our fathers. You freed Your people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea"

And we have 3 other "this is the night" phrases which compliment our Christian beliefs:

"This is the night where the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!" (in the Old Testament this occurs but also Christ is our 'pillar of fire', no? See what we did there? ;)

"This is the night when Christians everywhere...are restored to grace and grow together in holiness" ( beautiful is that?)

"This is the night where Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave"

Almost makes you want to sit through the entire Easter Vigil, huh? ;)

Happy Triduum, all!!!


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