The (holy) week that is, and is, and is . . .

Hearing from a friend about a Holy Thursday service she found inspiring, I had to respond that my baptism is not taking well in recent years, as I have come to consider Holy Week as the Week of Overdoing It. 

Indeed, I showed up at our church door yesterday for the usual 8:30 a.m. mass (which I attend sporadically), to be reminded by a note on the door to bishops [sic] and other visiting liturgical performers saying where they should group for the night’s mass.  I had plumb forgot, so little have I been concerned about it. 

I labor to figure out why, who have been participating in Holy Week as long as I can remember, though less in recent years.  Part of it is age, I suppose, which militates against marathon services.  Part is a lingering discontent with our reformed liturgy — ah so bland, ah so darn functional, ah so explanatory

Part also is a lingering unfamiliarity that dates to my Jesuit days in the 50s and 60s, when “as confused as a Jesuit during Holy Week” was a going simile.  By the time I left, we were changing, it’s true.  A new day was dawning, and some of us, including me, were excited about it.

But then I left center stage, retreating to the pews, becoming a sort of back-bencher in things Catholic —  though welcomed as a highly qualified potential lay leader in the parish of my boyhood.  That potential lay fallow for these many decades, per my choice or series of choices.

Moreover, I wandered in and out of various churches, even Episcopal ones, though never for very long and usually doubling as loyal Roman.  In due time I have found what makes church attendance tick for me and, I think, many others, and that’s the peace and quiet of it all in the presence of praying others who tell me more about religion than most sermons.

Mark Twain called a game of golf “a good walk ruined,” my philosophy classmate Jack Britton, from Maryland Province, told me many years ago, mistakenly attributing it to Winston Churchill.  That’s how I often feel about church services that get too busy. 

To be frank, I’d rather sit and absorb the atmosphere of church, confronting my own demons all the while, than react to what’s going on up front, or most of it anyhow.  Church has a good thing going for it — the gathering of the faithful in a mood and environment of reverence and belief in the holy sacrifice — “throughout the world,” the old Morning Offering says.  This is a lot, and church people should be careful of not distracting from it by overdoing it.

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Comments

  • Dennis Byrne  On April 10, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Which is pretty much why I’m at home and my wife is observing, at this very moment, Good Friday in church. Well said, Jim

    Like

  • Jim Bowman  On June 9, 2017 at 9:47 PM

    Reblogged this on Sunday sermons, weekday observations and commented:

    I labor to figure out why, who have been participating in Holy Week as long as I can remember, though less in recent years. Part of it is age, I suppose, which militates against marathon services. Part is a lingering discontent with our reformed liturgy — ah so bland, ah so darn functional, ah so explanatory.

    Like

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