Saturday 22 March 2008

Triduum 2008

I should be in bed (or at least heading that way) but I'm still on a real high after the Easter Vigil - and so I'm breaking my blog-fast by putting up a post on the Triduum services (and drinking a rather wonderful cup of Green & Black's hot chocolate, as well as polishing off the remains of my Green & Black's Easter egg!)

Maundy Thursday's Mass of the Last Supper was very moving: I find myself holding my breath when Judas is mentioned in the Gospel, almost as if I hope that this year he won't "go through with it" and the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose (shown in the photo... isn't it beautiful?) brings a lump to my throat. I am often really tired by this time on Maundy Thursday, and watching at the altar until midnight requires a real effort (funny how I don't normally have any problem staying up until midnight usually!) This year was made a bit more difficult because the wet weather is playing havoc with my poor old bones... and no, I have no idea why wet weather makes broken bones ache!

Good Friday dawned bright and sunny... but the wind was bitterly cold. I had considered going to the children's Stations of the Cross - they bring home-made crosses and get to read the meditations and hold up pictures, and their enthusiasm is heart-warming - but I was still very stiff and achy (which made me suspect that the sunshine would be short-lived) and so I went to the solemn celebration of Stations (which also has the advantage of being considerably shorter!)

Looking at the sanctuary, stripped bare of everything, was another poignant experience...

The Good Friday Liturgy was also very emotional: the reading of the Passion provided another opportunity for me to wonder what would have happened if the crowd hadn't shouted for Barabbas... or if Pilate had been braver...

...or if I had been less of a sinner! I have far less excuse than Pilate, or Judas, or the crowd: I know that Jesus is my Lord and God, and yet I still continue to betray him through my sins.

Have a closer look at the vestments Fr. Tim and the deacons are wearing: they are eighteenth century - and the lamb on the back of the chasuble is a real work of art.

I love the Easter Vigil. I discovered it "by accident" when I came back to the church (I was roped into the RCIA programme when I revealed how little catechesis I had received.)

The rain had stopped by Saturday evening, and the wind had died down considerably, though Fr. Tim looked as if he might go up in smoke more than once as the Easter fire sent sparks swirling through the air. The paschal candle actually went out at one point, and there was considerable difficulty in getting it relit.

Having the Exsultet and the Old Testament readings by candlelight is awesome... Fr. Tim had produced a "book" with the readings in (last year the first reader went up and read the first of the OT readings - from Genesis - instead of the third reading - from Exodus - which he was supposed to read. In order to reduce the chances of that sort of thing happening again, it was deemed sensible to omit the extra readings!) but I noticed that the plastic wallets appeared to be difficult to read through by candlelight.

I wasn't in the mood to take any more photos, so I haven't got any of the decorated altar: I shall try and get a few more tomorrow morning.

And now I think I shall call it a night. Here's wishing you a happy and holy Easter.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Chrism Mass 2008

Things have been pretty hectic at work, and there hasn't been the usual pre-holiday attenuation in pace (because it's not really pre-holiday in most schools...) This means that I left the placards for the Chrism Mass until the last minute... I had intended to make them on Tuesday, only I was too tired after the staff meeting... but that left Wednesday evening, so I wasn't terribly concerned... and then I went to Tenebrae... which took over two hours...

So I was up rather late finishing them off. Getting up this morning was therefore somewhat more tricky than usual, and I was bright-tailed and bushy-eyed rather than the opposite! I was awake enough to make sure that I packed the Chrism Mass Thank-You cards, and, mindful of the weather forecast, wrapped the placards in a bin liner for protection. I even managed to pay the London congestion charge online before leaving home.

When I arrived, the sun was shining brightly and I decided to leave my coat in the car - the Cathedral can get a little warm when it's crowded. However, I had forgotten that the corner at the front of the Cathedral is a windy one... before too long I was chilled to the bone, but didn't have time to return to the car...

I was soon joined by friends who held up the placards, and one of the girls helped me give out cards to the priests as they processed in at the start of Mass. It was a real pleasure to be able to do this. This year I was informed by one priest: "If you're praying for priests, I'll accept it, but not if you're spouting any of that 'women priests' nonsense..." I was able to assure him that I definitely didn't go in for "that nonsense."

I didn't manage to get any photos myself, but I believe that Fr. Tim did get one or two, so I shall post them as soon as he gets them to me.

Once the procession had gone in, I went in and found a seat behind a pillar. I was quite hopeful when I heard "The Church's one foundation" - I thought maybe the choice of music had undergone a transformation... it hadn't. This was brought home when a Marty Haugen number suddenly segued into "We shall overcome." Not quite sure what we're supposed to be overcoming at the Chrism Mass...

(And yes, I have been apprised of the fact that "The Church's one foundation" is a rousing Protestant hymn... I still like it, and until someone points out that the words are heretical, I shall continue to like it!)

The rain started while we were inside the Cathedral. The priests processed out at top speed, and there wasn't much hanging about outside. A few of us then went to the Three Stags pub for lunch. I must just point out that, contrary to the impression given by me in a previous post, Fr. Tim never expressed a distaste for cheese sandwiches, curled or otherwise... I know he doesn't like cheese sandwiches, and jumped to conclusions (and anyway, it was the like-minded brethren I was quoting!) ... but apparently the buffet lunch in Amigo Hall consists of items such as chicken curry and not cheese sandwiches...

The high point of the whole episode? For yet another year in Southwark, the feminazis and would-be priestesses didn't show up. They didn't make it to Westminster this year. We might not be the reason for their absence, though I like to think that they got discouraged by all the young girls and women who were so obviously faithful to the Church's teachings. Maybe it will give them pause for thought. Whatever. Deo gratias !


A couple of posts ago I was bewailing the fact that I didn't feel as if I was in Holy Week, as I hadn't had the opportunity to "prepare" myself for the spiritual onslaught.

Well, a friend had told me that Tenebrae was being celebrated at Corpus Christi church, Maiden Lane, London, and he suggested that I make the effort to attend. I have to confess that I wasn't really in the mood by the end of my working day. I was feeling washed out and headachy. However, after getting home, I thought about what Our Lord had suffered for us, and considered what sort of a sorry state I was in for the start of the Triduum...

...and so I got back in the car and drove in to central London. I arrived at Covent Garden with about five minutes to go before the service was due to start, and began praying to St. Joseph to find me a parking space. I dreaded getting lost in the one-way maze of backstreets, but suddenly turned a corner and found myself right next to Maiden Lane, and lo and behold, there was a parking space just in front of me. The parking restriction had finished half an hour previously, so I grabbed my mantilla and shot in to the church with a minute to spare!

And what a wonderful service it was. The church is quite small and intimate, but the acoustics are really good... the psalms and readings were chanted from the front, but some of the antiphons and responses were sung from a gallery at the back of the church: the music was spine-tinglingly good. I tried to record it on my phone, but without success.

It was certainly an experience I'd want to repeat: the mournful tones of the psalms, the role of Judas Iscariot in planning his betrayal, and the sense of impending doom really bring home the meaning of what is about to happen over the next few days...

I will try to put up a post about the morning's Chrism Mass tomorrow, but after that I shall be on private "retreat" for the Triduum.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Deo Gratias !

Auntie Joanna reports that the Chrism Mass "Thank You" Rally in support of the priests of Westminster Diocese went very well today... and joy of joys, the usual protest group calling for the ordination of women did not make an appearance!

Face it, hippies...

Monday 17 March 2008

Quite A Challenge...

This is the first time, in my ten years' of teaching, that I will not be having an Easter "holiday." A couple of times I had to work during the first part of Holy Week, and twice before (maybe three times...) I've had to take Maundy Thursday off as unpaid leave so as to be able to attend the Chrism Mass at St. George's Cathedral, but the Triduum has always been part of my school holiday: usually the start, more often the middle. And the Easter Octave has been a joyous celebration, with the luxury of daily Mass.

This year my school has a "Spring Break". Most people still refer to it as the Easter holiday, which has led to some confusion: when I speak of Easter, I mean this coming weekend, whereas most of my colleagues mean the holiday which will occur two weeks later. The phrase "The coursework has to be marked by Easter" takes on a rather different meaning (and caused me to experience near-heart-failure!)

It means that this year I feel totally unprepared for the Triduum and Easter Sunday. Work is continuing apace, instead of slowing down for the holiday. I haven't been able to get myself "geared up" physically and mentally for the private retreat I usually make, and haven't even managed to draw up my timetable in preparation. Tomorrow I have a "twilight Inset" session (two hours after school listening to someone burble on about inconsequential items that would be better off put into a memo... and then shredded.) Wednesday sees an after-school staff meeting. More burbling... though this time it's departmental stuff, and so not a complete waste of time.

So no time to prepare myself. And I am out-of-sorts as a result: caught off-balance, wrong-footed... and I've realised that I don't like it one little bit.

I guess I've been spoiled...

Sunday 16 March 2008

Shroud Of Turin Damaged...

The Shroud of Turin, an ancient linen cloth believed to bear the image of Christ and considered by many clerics and devotees to be one of the holiest relics of the Christian faith, was inadvertently dyed a light shade of pink after being washed with a red T-shirt, sources reported Tuesday.

Check out the rest of this story over at The Onion. Mantilla-twitch to the Curt Jester.
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