Thursday, April 06, 2006

Passion Week

A few of our friends have asked why we have covered the icons in the church this week--earlier than we have in the past. The answer is takes a bit of explanation, besides the simple explanation that it is one of the options given in the Sacramentary.

Prior to the Council, the fifth Sunday of Lent was Passion Sunday and then Palm Sunday followed without the reading of the passion. The two Sunday liturgies have been compressed into one. This is why we will all (well, I hope all of us will) spend such a long time in church on Sunday. However, the chants for the office retain the old form. So this week, we are meditating on the passion as we pray the liturgy of the hours. There is a distinct shift in the liturgy from the fourth to the fifth week in Lent, and the community thought that it would be appropriate to emphasize this more than we had in the past.

This particular change in the liturgy, the collapsing of the Passion and the Entry into Jerusalem, is one that I don't particularly understand or find attractive. On the other hand, the restoration of the Triduum in its more natural rhythm (a change that actually has its beginnings well before the Council) is one undeniably one of the good fruits of the liturgical movement. This restoration, of the Easter Vigil and the Mass of the Lord's Supper to their proper night and evening times, is made all the more powerful by the truly incredible influx of the newly baptized or confirmed. There aren't reliable numbers available this year, but the Catholic Church has recently been averaging something like 100,000 new converts a year throughout the U.S., received at the Easter Vigil. Our obscure monastery has been responsible for the initiation of six catechumens and candidates in the past seven years.

In short, whatever heightens our appreciation of the awesomeness of these weeks wherein we celebrate our redemption interests the community. Hence, the covering of the icons.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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