Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday

The church was sparsely populated till just before the priest walked in. I sat with my RCIA group, my sponsor & her husband. There was a fantastic choir for the evening & the new vials of oil were brought to the altar- of the sick, of the catechumens & of confirmation- they were blessed by the archbishop this past week & will be used in the parish until next year. Then it was Mass as usual up until after the homily. The priest announced that we would be engaging in foot washing- all of us- not just a few. I guess most churches take just 12 people & have it done as something symbolic, but this parish takes all.

As far as I can tell, most of us went to the altar barefoot or in socks & sat in chairs that had been set up for the occasion. Fresh warm water & towels cycled through. My sponsor got down on the ground & washed my foot & then I, hers. We walked back to our pew & I sat & cried for a bit. This was a profound experience for me, though I don't know why. Perhaps it has to do with father's homily on the last supper & how Jesus said "unless I wash you, you have no part with Me"... I personally think the foot is right up there with the gross parts of the body. So for me to wash someone else's foot is monumental. It wasn't so bad, by the way. To handle someone's foot is like taking hold of their very core- they walk, run, stand, etc. on these feet. You may as well be holding their heart. And maybe that's what Jesus was doing when He washed the disciples' feet. Maybe He was holding their hearts in His hands & washing them clean, sort of like a baptism.

After all had finished, we resumed Mass. After the Eucharist, we watched as the priest donned an ornate cape & took the Blessed Sacrament which was in something called a ciborium (essentially a gold cup/bowl type vessel with a lid), from the altar. He didn't touch it with his hands, only with the ends of the cape. We began singing as incense & candles processed before him out of the church. We all followed across the way to the fellowship hall, where the Sacrament was to be put "in repose", that is, locked away in a decorated box atop a simple altar. The place was filled with smoke & we knelt down on the ground & sang. It was quite the sight. Afterwards, the priest & deacon left in silence & most followed suit. I was one of maybe 10 who stayed in "adoration" & silent prayer. A vigil of sorts is kept until midnight to remember Jesus' agony in the garden & His betrayal... I would like to have stayed the whole time, but I have class in the morning. Ah well. Tomorrow we're back at the church for Good Friday.

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