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|
|Water and basin, pre-service|
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|
Our 5am Vigil was right out of the 3rd century.
|Marking the Paschal Candle|
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,