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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Holy Week

Hello everyone!

During Holy Week last year, I distinctly remember fellow church-goer and past-YASCer Travis Shields telling me how amazing this experience is at the Monastery. It remained one of the weeks I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. What follows is an overview of the 8-day spiritual marathon celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Palm Sunday kicked off with a procession from our refectory (dining hall) patio into the chapel. Once in the chapel, we partook in the Passion Narrative.
Assigning parts before the service
Chapel, immediately after the service
After Sunday, we had the typical daily services right up to Thursday evening.

Triduum (Thursday-Saturday):

Water and basin, pre-service
Our Maundy Thursday service was marked by the lively bell ringing usually reserved for morning Eucharist. Perhaps I’ve been overly conditioned, but hearing the familiar medley at nighttime was slightly jarring for me. The somber mood further added to the contrast.
Once inside, the service began with foot washing by Br. Daniel. We progressed to the narrative of Jesus’ death, communion, and the stripping of the altar; a process which included clearing the altar itself, covering all pictures on the wall, covering the statue of Mary, removing the holy water at the chapel entrance, and removing all candles; all the while Br. Josias read Psalm 22 ("They divide my garments among them, and cast lots for my clothing...")


Thursday to Sunday entailed the following:

-An all-night vigil on Thursday night. I took the 11pm-1am shift. This silent vigil entailed ‘keeping watch’ in our bell tower, where you could pray, meditate, reflect, or however else the spirit moved you. A small altar was set up for the occasion.

-Instead of bell-ringing, a handheld woodblock was used to call the community to the prayer services.

-Good Friday was both a fast day and a day of silence. Traditional noonday prayer was replaced with spoken prayers, readings, and the veneration of the cross.

-It rained all weekend. While in the chapel, the normally-picturesque view outside was almost completely clouded by rain and fog. It added to the solemnity.

-Most services were shorter than usual. Many parts changed from singing to speaking, and there was no communion.

-Did I mention it was raining?

-Saturday’s lunch was followed by a rehearsal and preparation for the Easter day vigil; a vigil which would begin in the newly-rearranged refectory.
Ready for Easter
Sunday Morning:
Our 5am Vigil was right out of the 3rd century.
Marking the Paschal Candle
This service included a lighting of the fire, 8 readings of scripture, renewal of baptismal vows, liturgy of the saints, procession into the chapel, and a full-fledged Eucharist (where we heard the melodic church bells once again). The entire process lasted just over 2 hours. Coffee and refreshments followed, as did nap time. 

Later that day, the brothers and myself went back to the refectory to prepare for Easter lunch. The food and the camaraderie were heavenly.
Refectory, transformed yet again


The following Monday was a day of rest, complete with extra sleep and delicious leftovers :)

Lots to be thankful for this Eastertide 

I hope you had a meaningful week as well, and you find lots of ways to celebrate the risen Lord. Until next time, uXolo Thixo (Peace of the Lord)!!!

Servant of Christ,


  1. Sounds incredible, Cameron! What a way to celebrate. I hope pieces can come back with you. Happy Easter!

  2. Happy Easter, Jason!! And yes, it was a privilege to celebrate Easter here :) I, too, hope I can carry this journey back with me.

    God Bless!!

  3. holy, holi, Cameron! thanks for the pix of the food. ;) I had no idea Holy Week had so many parts and rituals. It wasn't 'til I was an adult and met other people that I learned that some people don't associate easter with eggs or baskets, at all! xoxo