"He who exerciseth himself devoutly in the Passion of our Lord shall find abundantly all that is useful and necessary for him." - A Kempis.
Image from Wikipedia Commons
A blessed Holy Monday to you all, this will be our last post until after Lent is over and the blessed Resurrection of our Lord is upon us. We pray that you have a most holy and fruitful Holy Week and ask your prayers for our own same intentions.
The Office of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings in Holy Week is called Tenebraæ which signifies darkness), because in ancient times it was performed at midnight. In the sanctuary we notice a large triangular candlestick. The highest candle represents Jesus Christ, Who said of Himself, "I am the Light of the World," and the rest represent the Apostles and disciples, to whom He was pleased to communicate His own prerogative of being the Light of the world (Matt. v. 14). These candles are successively extinguished during the Office to represent how the Apostles fled and disappeared at the time of our Saviour's Passion. Near the end the candle representing our Lord is not extinguished, but hidden behind or under the altar to represent His death. Immediately there is profound silence to signify the horror of the Redeemer's death, followed by noise representing the earthquake and the confusion the world was in at that time.
The candlestick itself represents the Blessed Trinity, and the triangular arrangement of the candles gives us to understand that the light of truth which shone to the world from the life and doctrine of Christ and His disciples was derived from the same Blessed Trinity, and was intended to proclaim God's glory.
"The earth is darkened - rent the Temple's veil Now do the hearts of men with terror quail:
Rend Thou my heart, O God, in this dread hour; Break it with sweet contrition's holy power."
Example. - Count Elzear
The devout Count Elzear, despite the purity of his life, was blamed, calumniated, and otherwise badly treated even by his own subjects. Being asked one day by his wife Delphina how he would bear with indifference so many insults, he replied: "Whenever I receive an injury from anyone, I immediately turn away my heart to consider the great affronts that were put upon the Son of God by His own creatures, and I say to myself: Even if they were to pluck thee by the beard, or to buffet thee, what would that be in comparison with what they Divine Lord endured with so much patience? Know, moreover, that sometimes in these cases I feel great movements of anger, but then I fix my mind directly upon some corresponding injury that Jesus Christ once endured; nor do I let it wander from this consideration until I find that the inclination to anger has entirely passed away."
Links & Resources
Our friends over at Crusader's for Christ
have shared yet another WONDERFUL article on feast day traditions, they sure have some good resources! We thought you might enjoy, below you will find a teaser of this wonderful information. Also we are adding some Journaling Pages to each of the liturgical seasons and major feast days. They are intended for adults so that they may plan their feast day and/or season and have a record for the following year. These will also be replacing the Liturgical articles in the Holy Simplicity planner
(due to be out in May!) So far we have Lent
& St. Patrick's Day
Journaling pages up with more to follow!- A Candle is Lighted, Imprimatur 1945 -
This day was a general holiday, particularly for apprentices, and it would have been strange if it had not frequently become a day into which people tried to cram all the pleasure they would soon have to forego.
In Norwich, as probably in other cities, processions were made to symbolize the rapid approach of Lent. In 1440, say the Norwich records, such a procession was instigated by a certain John Gladman, who was known "as a man ever trewe (true) and feythfilll (faithful) to God." Crowned as king of Christmas, his horse bedecked with gilt and every sort of finery and tinsel he was preceded in the procession by twelve other horsemen, each representing a month of the year and each dressed appropriately. Last in the procession, following after the glittering king of Christmas, came Lent, a horseman dressed from head to foot in white cloth and herring skins, mounted on a horse with trappings of oyster shells--and this "in token that sadnesse shulde folowe (sadness should follow), and a holy tyme (time)." Thus they rode through Norwich, and many others of the townspeople joined in, dressed in every sort of fantastic dress, all of them "making myrth, disportes and playes."
That they ate pancakes everywhere is merely because eggs and butter and milk had to be finished off before the fasting began, and the making of pancakes, the beating of the batter, the frying and tossing of the pancakes, could be a festive affair.To finish reading visit Crusader's for Christ
"Let us not speak ill of the Cross, it has been sent to us
to warn us, to detach us from the earth, to lead us to
our end. Let us leave it only to cast ourselves into God.
We have much need of suffering, let us suffer well."
~ Pere de Ravignan ~
St. Eugenius, Bishop
It's Friday the 13th, a special day! Christ's number is 13 and he died on Good Friday. Today is HIS day!
Welcome to another Feria Friday
, where every Friday we share a saints story and 5 meatless recipes in honour of Christ's Passion and death on the Cross.In regards to Church use 'feria' means without and is used to mean a day in the Church calendar that is without a feast of a saint. Typically in our posts we use 'feria' in reference to recipes without meat. Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
July 13.—ST. EUGENIUS, Bishop.
THE episcopal see of Carthage had remained vacant twenty-four years, when, in 481, Huneric permitted the Catholics on certain conditions to choose one who should fill it. The people, impatient to enjoy the comfort of a pastor, pitched upon Eugenius, a citizen of Carthage, eminent for his learning, zeal, piety, and prudence. His charities to the distressed were excessive, and he refused himself everything that he might give all to the poor. His virtue gained him the respect and esteem even of the, Arians; but at length envy and blind zeal got the ascendant in their breasts, and the king sent him an order never to sit on the episcopal throne, preach to the people, or admit into his chapel any Vandals, among whom several were Catholics. The Saint boldly answered that the laws of God commanded him not to shut the door of His church to any that desired to serve Him in it. Huneric, enraged at this answer, persecuted the Catholics in various ways. Many nuns were so cruelly tortured that they died on the rack. Great numbers of bishops, priests, deacons, and eminent Catholic laymen were banished to a desert filled with scorpions and venomous serpents. The people followed their bishops and priests with lighted tapers in their hands, and mothers carried their little babes in their arms and laid them at the feet of the confessors, all crying out with tears, "Going yourselves to your crowns, to whom do you leave us? Who will baptize our children? Who will impart to us the benefit of penance, and discharge us from the bonds of sin by the favor of reconciliation and pardon? Who will bury us with solemn supplications at our death? By whom will the Divine Sacrifice be made? " The Bishop Eugenius was spared in the first storm, but afterwards was carried into the uninhabited desert country in the province of Tripolis, and committed to the guard of Antony, an inhuman Arian bishop, who treated him with the utmost barbarity. Gontamund, who succeeded Huneric, recalled our Saint to Carthage, opened the Catholic churches, and allowed all the exiled priests to return. After reigning twelve years, Gontamund died, and his brother Thrasimund was called to the crown. Under this prince St. Eugenius was again banished, and died in exile, on the 13th of July, 505, in a monastery which he built and governed, near Albi. Reflection
.—"Alms shall be a great confidence before the Most High God to them that give it. Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sin."
This Weeks Five Meatless Recipes...
If you are following along with our Holy Simplicity Planner
, we are getting ready to head into week 3. Did you know, for those of you still on summer break, that the planner can be used as a mother's daily task list? Get the FREE PDF here
and the printed version here
for only $21.95. Have a blessed week!
I'm starting a little project with my son called Notebooking Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints
. I recently found out about notebooking pages as a way to keep track of school projects and papers throughout the year in an orderly fashion as well as something presentable that the child can show family and friends. One of my little guys has taken up to learning about every saint that is mentioned and asking daily who the saint is on our Liturgical Year Bulletin Board
.I showed him one day Butler's Lives of the Saints, he isn't yet able to read on his own, but he was still in awe because the book was much bigger than his children's saint book. I asked if he wanted to learn about each saint listed there, being one for every day, and he was full of excitement. So I share with you our notebooking pages for the month of April Lives of the Saints. The goal is to share these monthly pages along with the saints for the Liturgical Year Bulletin Board. The bulletin board may not have as many as there are notebook pages as the ones for the board come from the mass prayers the Church has for each day where as the notebooking pages come from Butler's Lives of the Saints. Directions are included in the download but as always feel free to leave comments/questions below.*** As an additional note! ***Aprils Saint download for the Liturgical Bulletin Board had the wrong picture on the 29th for St. Peter of Verona. That file is corrected now and replaced, you may find it HERE as well. Pieces have also been added for Maunday Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday per reader request. God bless!
By: Dom Gueranger
From The Liturgical Year,
Vol. on Passiontide Impr. 1867
After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.
The most ancient sacramentaries and antiphonaries of the several Churches attest, by the prayers, the lessons, and the whole liturgy of these two weeks, that the Passion of our Lord is now the one sole thought of the Christian world. During Passion-week, a saint’s feast, if it occur, will be kept; but Passion Sunday admits no feast, however solemn it may be; and even on those which are kept during the days intervening between Passion and Palm Sunday, there is always made a commemoration of the Passion, and the holy images are not allowed to be uncovered.
We cannot give any historical details upon the first of these two weeks; its ceremonies and rites have always been the same as those of the four preceding ones. [It would be out of place to enter here on a discussion with regard to the name Mediana under which title we find Passion Sunday mentioned both in ancient liturgies and in Canon Law.] We, therefore, refer the reader to the following chapter, in which we treat of the mysteries peculiar to Passiontide. The second week, on the contrary, furnishes us with abundant historical details; for there is no portion of the liturgical year which has interested the Christian world so much as this, or which has given rise to such fervent manifestations of piety.
This week was held in great veneration even as early as the third century, as we learn from St. Denis, bishop of Alexandria, who lived at that time [Epist. ad Basilidem, Canon i]. In the following century, we find St. John Chrysostom, calling it the great week [Hom. xxx in Genes.]:- ‘Not,’ says the holy doctor, ‘that it has more days in it than other weeks, or that its days are made up of more hours than other days; but we call it great, because of the great mysteries which are then celebrated.’ We find it called also by other names: the painful week (hebdomada poenosa), on account of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the fatigue required from us in celebrating them; the week of indulgence, because sinners are then received to penance; and, lastly, Holy Week, in allusion to the holiness of the mysteries which are commemorated during these seven days. This last name is the one under which it most generally goes with us; and the very days themselves are, in many countries, called by the same name, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday.
The severity of the lenten fast is increased during these its last days; the whole energy of the spirit of penance is now brought out. Even with us, the dispensation which allows the use of eggs ceases towards the middle of this week. The eastern Churches, faithful to their ancient traditions, have kept up a most rigorous abstinence ever since the Monday of Quinquagesima week. During the whole of this long period, which they call Xerophagia, they have been allowed nothing but dry food. In the early ages, fasting during Holy Week was carried to the utmost limits that human nature could endure. We learn from St. Epiphanius [Expositio fidei, ix Haeres. xxii.], that there were some of the Christians who observed a strict fast from Monday morning to cock-crow of Easter Sunday. Of course it must have been very few of the faithful who could go so far as this. Many passed two, three, and even four consecutive days, without tasting any food; but the general practice was to fast from Maundy Thursday evening to Easter morning. Many Christians in the east, and in Russia, observe this fast even in these times. Would that such severe penance were always accompanied by a firm faith and union with the Church, out of which the merit of such penitential works is of no avail for salvation!
Another of the ancient practices of Holy Week were the long hours spent, during the night, in the churches. On Maundy Thursday, after having celebrated the divine mysteries in remembrance of the Last Supper, the faithful continued a long time in prayer [St. John Chrysostom, Hom. xxx in Genes.]. The night between Friday and Saturday was spent in almost uninterrupted vigil, in honour of our Lord’s burial [St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. xviii.]. But the longest of all these vigils was that of Saturday, which was kept up till Easter Sunday morning. The whole congregation joined in it: they assisted at the final preparation of the catechumens, as also at the administration of Baptism; nor did they leave the church until after the celebration of the holy Sacrifice, which was not over till sunrise [Const. Apost. lib. 1. cap. xviii.].
Cessation from servile work was, for a long time, an obligation during Holy Week. The civil law united with that of the Church in order to bring about this solemn rest from toil and business, which so eloquently expresses the state of mourning of the Christian world. The thought of the sufferings and death of Jesus was the one pervading thought: the Divine Offices and prayer were the sole occupation of the people: and, indeed, all the strength of the body was needed for the support of the austerities of fasting and abstinence. We can readily understand what an impression was made upon men’s minds, during the whole of the rest of the year, by this universal suspension of the ordinary routine of life. Moreover, when we call to mind how, for five full weeks, the severity of Lent had waged war on the sensual appetites, we can imagine the simple and honest joy wherewith was welcomed the feast of Easter, which brought both the regeneration of the soul, and respite to the body.
In the preceding volume, we mentioned the laws of the Theodosian Code, which forbade all law business during the forty days preceding Easter. This law of Gratian and Theodosius, which was published in 380, was extended by Theodosius in 389; this new decree forbade all pleadings during the seven days before, and the seven days after, Easter. We meet with several allusions to this then recent law, in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and in the sermons of St. Augustine. In virtue of this decree, each of these fifteen days was considered, as far as the courts of law were concerned, as a Sunday.
But Christian princes were not satisfied with the mere suspension of human justice during these days, which are so emphatically days of mercy: they would, moreover, pay homage, by an external act, to the fatherly goodness of God, who has deigned to pardon a guilty world, through the merits of the death of His Son. The Church was on the point of giving reconciliation to repentant sinners, who had broken the chains of sin whereby they were held captives; Christian princes were ambitious to imitate this their mother, and they ordered that prisoners should be loosened from their chains, that the prisons should be thrown open, and that freedom should be restored to those who had fallen under the sentence of human tribunals. The only exception made was that of criminals whose freedom would have exposed their families or society to great danger. The name of Theodosius stands prominent in these acts of mercy. We are told by St John Chrysostom [Homil. in magn. Hebdom. Homil. xxx. in Genes. Homil. vi ad popul. Antioch.] that this emperor sent letters of pardon to the several cities, ordering the release of prisoners, and granting life to those that had been condemned to death, and all this in order to sanctify the days preceding the Easter feast. The last emperors made a law of this custom, as we find in one of St. Leo’s sermons, where he thus speaks of their clemency: ‘The Roman emperors have long observed this holy practice. In honour of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, they humbly withhold the exercise of their sovereign justice, and, laying aside the severity of their laws, they grant pardon to a great number of criminals. Their intention in this is to imitate the divine goodness by their own exercise of clemency during these days, when the world owes its salvation to the divine mercy. Let, then, the Christian people imitate their princes, and let the example of kings induce subjects to forgive each other their private wrongs; for, surely it is absurd that private laws should be less unrelenting than those which are public. Let trespasses be forgiven, let bonds be taken off, let offences be forgotten, let revenge be stifled; that thus the sacred feast may, by both divine and human favours, find us all happy and innocent.’ [Sermon xl. de Quadragesima, ii].
This Christian amnesty was not confined to the Theodosian Code; we find traces of it in the laws of several of our western countries. We may mention France as an example. Under the first race of its kings, St. Eligius bishop of Noyon, in a sermon for Maundy Thursday, thus expresses himself: ‘On this day, when the Church grants indulgence to penitents and absolution to sinners, magistrates, also, relent in their severity and grant pardon to the guilty. Throughout the whole world prisons are thrown open; princes show clemency to criminals; masters forgive their slaves.’ [Sermon x]. Under the second race, we learn from the Capitularia of Charlemagne, that bishops had a right to exact from the judges, for the love of Jesus Christ (as it is expressed), that prisoners should be set free on the days preceding Easter [We learn from the same capitularia, that this privilege was also extended to Christmas and Pentecost]; and should the magistrates refuse to obey, the bishops could refuse them admission into the church [Capitular. lib. vi.]. And lastly, under the third race, we find Charles VI, after quelling the rebellion at Rouen, giving orders, later on, that the prisoners should be set at liberty, because it was Painful Week, and very near to the Easter feast [Joan Juvénal des Ursins, year 1382].
A last vestige of this merciful legislation was a custom observed by the parliament of Paris. The ancient Christian practice of suspending its sessions during the whole of Lent, had long been abolished: it was not till the Wednesday of Holy Week that the house was closed, which it continued to be from that day until after Low Sunday. On the Tuesday of Holy Week, which was the last day granted for audiences, the parliament repaired to the palace prisons, and there one of the grand presidents, generally the last installed, held a session of the house. The prisoners were questioned; but, without any formal judgment, all those whose case seemed favourable, or who were not guilty of some capital offence, were set at liberty.
The revolutions of the last eighty years have produced in every country in Europe the secularization of society, that is to say, the effacing from our national customs and legislation of everything which had been introduced by the supernatural element of Christianity. The favourite theory of the last half century or more, has been that all men are equal. The people of the ages of faith had something far more convincing than theory, of the sacredness of their rights. At the approach of those solemn anniversaries which so forcibly remind us of the justice and mercy of God, they beheld princes abdicating, as it were, their sceptre, leaving in God’s hands the punishment of the guilty, and assisting at the holy Table of Paschal Communion side by side with those very men, whom, a few days before, they had been keeping chained in prison for the good of society. There was one thought, which, during these days, was strongly brought before all nations: it was the thought of God, in whose eyes all men are sinners; of God, from whom alone proceed justice and pardon. It was in consequence of this deep Christian feeling, that we find so many diplomas and charts of the ages of faith speaking of the days of Holy Week as being the reign of Christ: such an event, they say, happened on such a day, ‘under the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ:’ regnante Domino nostro Jesu Christo.
When these days of holy and Christian equality were over, did subjects refuse submission to their sovereigns? Did they abuse the humility of their princes, and take occasion for drawing up what modern times call the rights of man? No: that same thought which had inspired human justice to humble itself before the cross of Jesus, taught the people their duty of obeying the powers established by God. The exercise of power, and submission to that power, both had God for their motive. They who wielded the sceptre might be of various dynasties: the respect for authority was ever the same. Now-a-days, the liturgy has none of her ancient influence on society; religion has been driven from the world at large, and her only life and power is now with the consciences of individuals; and as to political institutions, they are but the expression of human pride, seeking to command, or refusing to obey.
And yet the fourth century, which, in virtue of the Christian spirit, produced the laws we have been alluding to, was still rife with the pagan element. How comes it that we, who live in the full light of Christianity, can give the name of progress to a system which tends to separate society from every thing that is supernatural? Men may talk as they please, there is but one way to secure order, peace, morality, and security to the world; and that is God’s way, the way of faith, of living in accordance with the teachings and the spirit of faith. All other systems can, at best, but flatter those human passions, which are so strongly at variance with the mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we are now celebrating.
We must mention another law made by the Christian emperors in reference to Holy Week. If the spirit of charity, and a desire to imitate divine mercy, led them to decree the liberation of prisoners; it was but acting consistently with these principles, that, during these days when our Saviour shed His Blood for the emancipation of the human race, they should interest themselves in what regards slaves. Slavery, a consequence of sin, and the fundamental institution of the pagan world, had received its death-blow by the preaching of the Gospel; but its gradual abolition was left to individuals, and to their practical exercise of the principle of Christian fraternity. As our Lord and His apostles had not exacted the immediate abolition of slavery, so, in like manner, the Christian emperors limited themselves to passing such laws as would give encouragement to its gradual abolition. We have an example of this in the Justinian Code, where this prince, after having forbidden all law-proceedings during Holy Week and the week following, lays down the following exception: ‘It shall, nevertheless, be permitted to give slaves their liberty; in such manner, that the legal acts necessary for their emancipation shall not be counted as contravening this present enactment.’ [Cod. lib. iii. tit. xii. de feriis. Leg. 8.]. This charitable law of Justinian was but applying to the fifteen days of Easter the decree passed by Constantine, which forbade all legal proceedings on the Sundays throughout the year, excepting only such acts as had for their object the emancipation of slaves.
But long before the peace given her by Constantine, the Church had made provision for slaves, during these days when the mysteries of the world’s redemption were accomplished. Christian masters were obliged to grant them total rest from labour during this holy fortnight. Such is the law laid down in the apostolic constitutions, which were compiled previously to the fourth century. ‘During the great week preceding the day of Easter, and during the week that follows, slaves rest from labour, inasmuch as the first is the week of our Lord’s Passion, and the second is that of His Resurrection; and the slaves require to be instructed upon these mysteries.’ [Constit. Apost. lib. viii. cap. xxxiii].
Another characteristic of the two weeks, upon which we are now entering, is that of giving more abundant alms, and of greater fervour in the exercise of works of mercy. St. John Chrysostom assures us that such was the practice of his times; he passes an encomium on the faithful, many of whom redoubled, at this period, their charities to the poor, which they did out of this motive: that they might, in some slight measure, imitate the divine generosity, which is now so unreservedly pouring out its graces on sinners.
Two more freebies for our readers! A great way to teach the order of the 10 commandments, something of conversation in our house more recently as the boys are learning them. They also seem to get reminded of certian ones throughout the day ;) What better way than to make it a game and with the special ones in our house any game that is moveable always captures the attention much better! The Matching the 10 Commandments with Moses
gives them the opportunity to use their fine motor skills and strengthen those fingers!The second printable is Ordering the Stations of the Cross- 'busy bag'. If you are aware of the busy bag craze you will know what these are about. Great simple games that can be contained in a small bag. Easy to take on the go and simple enough to entertain without too much instruction. This printable features the 14 stations of the cross on which the child places the correct number station (as marked on the clothes pin) to the correct picture and title. This one comes with an answer key so the child or the parent can check the work when it is complete. For those who can't read yet they can use the answer key to match up the pins and still have a fun, entertaining and educational time.Feel free to share the printables, if you would link back to our website or give credit in some way that would be wonderful! May God provide you a most fruitful Lenten season! God bless!Matching the 10 Commandments with Moses- Busy Bag DownloadOrdering the Stations of the Cross- Busy Bag Download
Spring time is getting near and so is the time for our new Home*School*Liturgical Year Planner! Visit here for more details and make sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter so you don't miss out on new information!
By: Maria Von Trapp
According to an old tradition, the first three days of Holy Week-- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday--are dedicated to spring cleaning. In the days before the invention of the vacuum cleaner, this was a spectacular undertaking: sofas, easy chairs, and all mattresses would be carried out of the house and beaten mercilessly with a "Teppichpracker" (carpet-beater). Walls were dusted, curtains were changed--a thorough domestic upheaval. There is little time for cooking, and meals are made of leftovers. By Wednesday night the house looks spick and span.
And now the great "Feierabend" begins. "Feierabend" is an untranslatable word. It really means vigil--evening before a feast, the evening before Sunday, when work ceases earlier than on any other weekday in order to allow time to get into the mood to celebrate. "Feier" means "to celebrate," "Abend" means "evening." From now on until the Tuesday after Easter no unnecessary work will be done on our place. These days are set aside for Our Lord. On Wednesday, with all the satisfaction of having set our house at peace, and after the dishes of a simple early supper are finished, we go down to the village church in Stowe for the first Tenebrae service.
In the sanctuary, a large wrought-iron triangular candlestick is put up, with fifteen dark candles. We take our places in the choir, and the solemn chanting of matins and lauds begins. This is the first part of the Divine Office, which has been recited daily around the world by all priests and many religious since the early times of the Church. In the cathedrals and many monasteries it is chanted in common. For the last days of Holy Week, it is performed in public, so to speak--not only in cathedral churches, but in any church, so that the faithful may take part in it. We always consider this the greatest honor for us, the singing family, the greatest reward for all the trouble that goes along with life in public, that we can sing for all the Divine Offices in church.
Matins has three nocturnes, each one consisting of three psalms with their antiphons and three lessons. The first nocturne is always the most solemn one. We sing all the psalms on their respective "tonus". We sing the antiphons, some in Gregorian chant, some from the compositions of the old masters such as Palestrina, Lassus, Vittorio. The lessons were sung last year by Father Wasner, Werner, and Johannes. In the second and third nocturne we only recite the psalms in "recto tono" in order not to make it too long. Some of the antiphons and all of the lessons, however, are sung. After each psalm the altar boy extinguishes a candle, reminding us of how one Apostle after the other left Our Lord. Matins is followed by lauds, consisting of five psalms and antiphons which we recite. At the end of lauds there is only one candle left--the symbol of Our Lord all by Himself crying out, "Where are you, O My people!" And we, in the name of all the people, recite now the "Miserere," the famous penitential psalm, while the altar boy is carrying the last candle behind the altar and the church is now in complete darkness.
At the end of the "Miserere" we all make a banging noise with the breviary books. This custom is quite ancient. It is supposed to indicate the earthquake at the moment of the Resurrection. After this noise, the altar boy emerges from behind the altar with the burning Christ-candle and puts it back on the candlestick. This is a ray of hope anticipating the glorious Easter night. (In Austria the Tenebrae service is called "Pumpernette," or "noisy matins.") The congregation is following closely with booklets in which the whole service, which we sing in Latin, is given in English. This is the most moving evening service of the whole year. When we sing "Tenebrae factae sunt," an awesome silence falls upon the whole church, and when we sing the famous "Improperia `Popule meus'" by Palestrina we all are moved to the depths.
Is there anything more heartrending than to listen to the outcry of the anxious Redeemer: "My people, what have I done to thee, or in what have I grieved thee, answer Me. What more ought I to do for thee that I have not done?" On the morning of Holy Thursday, the Church in her service tries most movingly to combine the celebration of the two great events she wants to commemorate "Who lives in memory of Him," Our Lord had said on the first Holy Thursday when He gave Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist; and, "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." This cry He uttered only a few hours later. Therefore, as the Solemn Mass begins, the festive strains of the organ accompany the chant of the Introit and Kyrie, and when the priest intones the Gloria, all the bells on the steeple, as well as in the church, ring together once more for the last time because, right afterwards, Holy Church, as the Bride of Christ, goes into mourning as she accompanies the Bridegroom through His hours of unspeakable suffering.
The organ remains silent when she reminds the faithful in the Gradual: "Christ became obedient unto us to death, even unto the death of the Cross...." The Gospel of this day tells of the lesson Jesus gave us in brotherly love and humility as He first washed the feet of His disciples, afterwards saying: "Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also."
Therefore, in all cathedrals and abbey churches the bishops and abbots go down on their knees on this day after Holy Mass and wash the feet of the twelve oldest members of their communities. It is wonderful that in our days more and more parishes are adopting this beautiful custom, which brings home to us better than the most eloquent sermon that we should remember this word of Our Lord "For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also," which should become increasingly the watchword in our daily life.
This is what the Church wants us to take home with us on that day the attitude of washing one another's feet; and, because we Catholics have not awakened to this fact, we are rightly to be blamed for all wrong and injustice and wars going on in the world! As Good Friday has no Mass of its own, but only the "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified," an extra big host was consecrated by the priest during Mass on Holy Thursday, which is put into a chalice and covered up with a white cloth. This chalice is now incensed immediately after Mass and carried in solemn procession to the "Altar of Repose," while the "Pange Lingua" is chanted solemnly. This repository should remind us of the prison in which Our Lord was kept that terrible night from Thursday to Friday.
Unlike that first night, where He was all alone after all the Apostles had fled, the faithful now take turns in keeping watch. There is an old legend circulating in the old country, still fervently believed by the children, that all the bells fly to Rome on Holy Thursday, where the Holy Father blesses them; they return in time for the Gloria on Holy Saturday. Another custom still alive in the villages throughout Austria is this: As the bell cannot be rung for the Angelus on these three days, the altar boys man their outdoor "Ratschen" (a kind of rattle looking like a toy wheelbarrow, whose one wheel grinds out deafening noise) and race through the streets, stopping at certain previously designated corners, lifting up their "Ratschen" and chanting in chorus: Wir ratschen, ratschen zum englischen Gruss, Den jeder katholische Christ beten muss. (We remind you by this noise of the Angelus, Of a prayer to be said by every faithful Christian.) Needless to say, many a little boy's heart waits eagerly for these three holy days. While he might be too young to understand the great thoughts of Holy Week, he certainly is wide awake to his own responsibility of reminding his fellow-men, "Time to pray!"
My son Werner is living with his family just a little way down the road. When his little boys, Martin and Bernhard, are big enough to shoulder the responsibility, their father will make them such an old-world "Ratschen" and their mother will teach them the rhyme going with it. In the house also, the bells have to be silent. The bell rung for the meals or for family devotions is replaced by a hand clapper worked by the youngest member of the family, who announces solemnly from door to door that lunch is ready. Holy Thursday has a menu all its own.
For the noon meal we have the traditional spring herb soup (Siebenkraeutersuppe). Spring Herb Soup Dandelions Chervil Cress Sorrel Leaf nettle The mixture of the above herbs should total about 7 ounces. Whether bought at the market or picked, they should be washed well. Steam in butter with finely chopped onions and parsley. Press through a sieve into a flour soup and let it boil. You may put in one or two egg yolks, one to two tablespoons of cream, or 1/4 cup milk. You also may use sour cream. Afterwards there is the traditional spinach with fried eggs.
In Austria, Holy Thursday is called "Gruendonnerstag" (Green Thursday). Many people think that the word "gruen" stands for the color, but this is not so. It derives from the ancient German word "greinen," meaning "to cry or moan." Nevertheless, "Gruendonnerstag" will have its green lunch. The evening of Holy Thursday finds us in our Sunday best around the dining-room table. Standing, we listen to the Gospel describing the happenings in the Upper Room. On the table is a bowl with "bitter herbs" (parsley, chives, and celery greens), another bowl with a sauce the Orthodox Jews use when celebrating their Pasch, and plates with unleavened bread (matzos can be obtained from any Jewish delicatessen store, but can also be made at home). Unleavened Bread 1-1/2 cups flour 1 egg, slightly beaten 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 cup butter 1/3 cup warm water Mix salt, flour, and egg (and butter). Add the water, mix dough quickly with a knife, then knead on board, stretching it up and down to make it elastic until it leaves the board clean. Toss on a small, well-floured board. Cover with a hot bowl and keep warm 1/2 hour or longer. Then cut into squares of desired size and bake in 350-degree oven until done.
Then comes the feast-day meal of a yearling lamb roasted, eaten with these bitter herbs and the traditional sauce. Each time we dip the herbs in the sauce, we remember Our Lord answering sadly the question of the Apostles as to who was the traitor: "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me."
Afterwards the table is cleared and in front of Father Wasner's place is put a tray filled with wine glasses and a silver plate with unleavened bread. While breaking up portions of bread, he blesses the bread and wine individually and hands it to each one around the table and we drink and eat, remembering Our Lord, Who must have celebrated such a "love feast" many times with His Apostles. This was the custom in His days; just as we in our time will give a party on the occasion of the departure of a member of the family or a good friend, the people in the time of Christ used to clear the table after a good meal and bring some special wine and bread, and in the "breaking of the bread" they would signify their love for the departing one. The first Christians took over this custom, and after having celebrated the Eucharist together, they would assemble in a home for an "agape," the Greek word for "love feast." To share bread and wine together in this fashion therefore, was not in itself startling to the Apostles, but the occasion was memorable on this first Holy Thursday because it was Our Lord's own great farewell.
As we thus celebrate the breaking of the bread around our table at home, we keep thinking of the words He had said immediately before: "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you...." Every Holy Thursday night spent like this knits a family closer together, "careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit...one Lord, one faith..." as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians. On Good Friday Holy Mother Church gives her children a beautiful opportunity for a profession of faith: the adoration of the cross. Behind the priests and altar boys follows the whole congregation. We remove our shoes when we go to adore the cross. Three times we prostrate ourselves as we come closer, until we finally bend over and kiss the feet of the crucified. As we, the church choir, follow right behind the priest, we sing during the rest of the adoration.
Our songs are the heartrendingly moving "Crux fidelis" by King John of Portugal, and Eberlin's "Tenebrae factae sunt," of such haunting beauty. When the adoration of the cross is finished, the candles on the altar are lighted, the cross is most reverently taken up from the floor and placed on the altar, and a procession forms to get the Blessed Sacrament from the "Altar of Repose." During this procession the hymn "Vexilla Regis" is sung. And then follows a ceremony that is not a real Mass, although it is called the "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified."
The priest consumes the Host that was consecrated the day before. On the anniversary of Our Lord's death--the bloody sacrifice--the Church does not celebrate the symbol of the unbloody sacrifice. After the official service is finished, the altar is stripped again. The tabernacle is left open, no vigil light burns in the sanctuary. But in front of the empty tabernacle lies the crucifix on the steps of the altar, and the people come all during the day for adoration.
In Austria another custom was added. At the end of the official service the priest would carry the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, covered with a transparent veil, and expose it on the side altar, where a replica of the Holy Sepulchre had been set up with more or less historical accuracy, with more or less taste, but always with the best of will. Like the creche around Christmas time, so the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday would be an object of pride for every parish, one parish trying to outdo the other. The people in Salzburg used to go around at Christmas time and in Holy Week to visit the Christ Child's crib and the Holy Sepulchre in all thirty-five churches of the town, comparing and criticizing. There would be literally hundreds of vigil lights surrounding the Body of Christ in the tomb of rock, which was almost hidden beneath masses of flowers. There would be a guard of honor, not only of the soldiers, but also of firemen in uniform and of war veterans with picturesque plumed hats. I still remember the atmosphere of holy awe stealing over my little heart when as a child I would make the rounds of churches.
There in the Holy Sepulchre He would rest now, watched over by His faithful until Holy Saturday afternoon. Here in America we have found another lovely custom: people going from church to church not on Good Friday but on Holy Thursday. On that day, the churches are decorated with a profusion of flowers, as a sign of love and gratitude for the Holy Eucharist.
The contrast with the bare churches the day after, on Good Friday, is all the more striking and gives a tremendous feeling of desolation. Good Friday is a very quiet day with us. There is little to do in the kitchen, since fasting is observed rigorously on this day. We have no breakfast, and all that is served for lunch, on a bare table without tablecloth, is one pot of thick soup, "Einbrennsuppe," which everyone eats standing up in silence. There is little noise around the house. Talking is restricted to the bare essentials, as it would be if a dearly beloved were lying dead in the house.
As we are so privileged as to have a chapel in our house, we use the day when the holy house of God is empty and desolate to clean and polish all the sacred vessels and chalices and the ciborium, the monstrance, candlesticks, and censer. The vigil light before the picture of the Blessed Mother in the living room is also extinguished, because on Good Friday Christ, the Light of the World, is dead. From twelve until three, the hours of Our Lord's agony on the cross, all activity stops. We sit together in the empty chapel before the cross and spend these hours in prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. From time to time we rise and sing one or the other of the beautiful Lenten hymns and motets.
On Holy Saturday, a new stir of activity starts in the kitchen. Eggs are boiled in different pots containing various dyes--blue, green, purple, yellow, and red. Every member of the household who wants to participate in this art takes some eggs to his or her room, after they have dried, to work on them in secret. One takes some muriatic acid with which she etches the most intriguing patterns out of the colored foundation. It is quite popular in our house to etch the first line of Easter songs--staves, notes, and words. Our cleverest artist sits with paint and brush, and under her fingers appear pictures of an Easter lamb, or of Our Risen Saviour Himself, or of the Blessed Mother, or of the different patron saints of the family. Sometimes they turn out to be little gems. Others fasten dried ferns or little maple leaves or other herbs around the eggs before they are boiled in dye. When these leaves are finally taken off, the shape of the flowers and herbs remains white, while the rest of the egg is colored. This is easily done and looks very pretty. These eggs first appear on trays and in bowls on Easter Sunday morning at the foot of the altar for the solemn blessing of the food. Afterwards they will be distributed at the solemn Easter breakfast.
The same wonderful friend of mine who generously shares her families St. Catherine Academy's Newsletter
(UPDATE 2-2013 Our wonderful friends have their own website now over at Crusader's for Christ)
has allowed me to share her wonderful Lenten Lapbook. Created by a Catholic mother for her children using many resources. Here are a few files to help out in creating a lapbook similar to the one pictured above. Stations of the CrossSacred Heart StickersFlower Stickers
Inserts for LapbookCrown of Thorns ImageA few directions:
Use the cross to count down the days to Easter by placing a Sacred Heart sticker at the end of each day, and the crown of thorns is where they keep track of their good deeds. My Gifts for Jesus
Can you make sacrifices and acts of love for Jesus throughout the day? The thorns are reminders of Jesus' love for us, and how much He willingly and lovingly suffered. When you love someone, it overflows from your heart into action! The love we pour into each small act is precious to Jesus. At the end of each day, if you have tried your best to love Jesus during the day by being obedient, kind, and helpful, place a lovely flower sticker on a thorn (or draw and color a flower "sprouting" on a thorn). On Easter you will have a beautiful wreath(s) of flowers to give to our Risen Lord! (From a Year with God by Catholic Heritage Curricula
Under each small picture is an explanation of what takes place in the Church on that day and why. The little folder with Jesus and the Children is where they write down the sacrifices they are trying to do along with some of the bad habits they are trying to correct. The Stations of the Cross cards are for them to color. The yellow envelope contains a picture of the Resurrection to open on Easter. It is done on a purple file folder.May you have a blessed Lenten season!