It’s Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. On this evening, Christ celebrated the Passover with his closest friends; on this evening, the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood was instituted. Afterwards, Christ washed the feet of his disciples, saying, “Even as I have done unto you, so you do also to each other.”
It is the day that the Church gets to chant the glorious “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.” -Where there is love, there is God.
Our Churches are closed, yet we can still partake in these ceremonies from a distance, and live them in our hearts.
Fortunately, I live on a Catholic campus, and so I am able to access the ceremonies that are done privately. Thousands of people would come to these Holy Week ceremonies, yet now, only a handle of us are privileged enough to receive this treasure.
Between Tenebrae and the Vesperal Mass, I went out to Topeka, my shopping grounds. This the first time I went out grocery shopping since our county went to lockdown mode and the stay-at-home order was issued.
Like any city in many parts of the world right now, Topeka’s were quieter than usual as the great feast of Easter comes. But there was still a sprinkling of people in all the ‘essential’ stores. In these stores there was a strain.
Maybe, I’m imagining things, but I picked up on a strain -a tension.
I suspect half of the tension is the subconscious weight of the fear of this virus and the anxiety in worrying over the question on what will happen to our economy and our jobs.
The other half of the tension was frustration.
Frustration at missing supplies, frustration at keeping a physical distance away – how can you keep 6 feet away from someone when you both need the same sort of item, and there’s multiple people in the aisle?! Frustration at being controlled and pressured into this not-normal-way-of-interacting.
Everyone seemed so sad. So glum. Very subdued. Even fellow parishioners I met in Aldi’s.
It became desperately important to me to smile. To give some sort of encouragement to my fellow men.
I knew in a few hours I was going to get to receive the King of Kings in Holy Eucharist, and then keep his company for a few hours at the Altar of Repose.
Everyone else, what had they to look forward to? Most people probably don’t even have the gift of this Liturgy in their lives. For most, it would just be another evening trying to make dinner at home, wishing that their favorite restaurant was still open and that someone could give them a break from the kids, at least just for a little bit, before they all sat on the couch and allowed themselves to be hypnotized by the great waring deities, Prime and Netflix, till bedtime came round.
At best, those souls aware of this day would try to observe the Liturgy, the sacred mysteries, before a lifestream on their TV screen, while we “happy few” would be there in person, smelling the incense, the flowers, singing along “Ubi Caritas et amor.”
Lowe’s and Walmart carried the same feel as Aldi’s had. But it was at Dillon’s that I realized how heavy people’ spirits were.
The flower lady did not have her usually grand supplies of flowers to make your now arrangements. When I questioned her about that, she seemed to change from nice to crabby, saying “No one’s opened with all this stuff going on, and no one can go anywhere anyways, so we probably won’t get what we usually get.”
She wasn’t mean, bless her heart, but she was not happy.
And I wasn’t either.
Tears came to my eyes as I tried to find the other things on my list -Easter is still Easter! Forget the flowers cuz none’s going anywhere anyways?!!! Wouldn’t you want your home to be beautiful for the feast day? Because of the DAY itself? Who cares if you can’t go anywhere!
But then I remembered that for most people, that might not even be on their minds, and that maybe it was only on mine because I was able to go to all the Liturgy and really be aware of how glorious Easter Sunday is.
At the checkout the customer before me was cranky about something, and you could tell the cashier was trying to be very patient with him.
Then it was my turn. I answered As he handed me my receipt, the man said “Thank-you for keeping your spirits up.”
It was truly a reward to hear that, and to realize more deeply how each one of us can effect those around us. But I realized, if I didn’t have my faith and the realization that God is trying us, I’d be as glum and sorrowful as everyone else.
Wait, what the heck does all that have to do with the photos, you wonder? Well, thanks for making it thus far -I really appreciate it.
I’ll tell you.
At the very first Passover Meal, which was fulfilled by the Last Supper, Moses and the Hebrews ate bitter herbs with their roasted lamb and unleavened bread. Right now in early spring is when the bitter herbs are growing quite nicely.
One can go foraging pretty much anywhere and find something edible. In my nature journal I decide do to devote a page to the two different bitter herb dishes I had prepared and share it with my local community as a way to celebrate Maundy Thursday within their own homes.
The bitterness is like this situation that we all find ourselves in, but like the weedy greens, God permits it to happen. If we take up this bitterness -shoulder it- as we would gingerly eat these bitter herbs, so many nutrients, or blessings hidden within the unusual situation will be given to us.
On this evening Our Lord is going to pray, “Father, if it be Thy will, remove this chalice from me.” He’s asking God to grant him less suffering, because, as a man, he’s scared, knowing all the pain that is coming. But then he adds, “Yet not my will, but thine be done.” And he embraces the bitterness.
I pray for all of us that we may embrace the bitterness of our situation, of being estranged for what is good and normal to us, what is love by us, what is sacred to us.
I pray that we drink of the cup God has given to us, so that, both on Easter Sunday and also when life goes back to normal, we can share in the glory of the Resurrection of Our King, victorious over evil, and partake in the euphoria of being free at last.
But until then, may these pictures of the bitter herbs bring a smile to your lips, and that smile radiate to those around you.
Thank-you for reading and God bless you all. Please like, share and subscribe! Have a blessed remainder of Holy Week!
#lastsupper #passover #naturjournal #catholic #covid19 #coronavirus #pray #hope #keepsmiling