Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enlightened by Light: Holy Saturday

My third and final post on Holy Week...Thanks for sticking with me, people! 

Light is a GREAT symbol for God...(who thought of that anyway??)  I was brought to a deeper understanding of who this Jesus Christ character is through two ceremonies during Holy Week that used light in its worship.

First, was a Tenebrae service at Cardinal Ritter High School on Good Friday.  In a systematic way, the prayers of the evening are sung and candles are extinguished as you near the end of the service.  (symbolic of Christ's death getting nearer and nearer...)

When there's light from only one candle left, the priest takes the candle out of the prayer space and there you are, sitting in darkness.  This represents inside of Jesus tomb.  Dark. Silent.  I think it was the first time I ever realized just how FINAL Jesus death was.  He was dead.  It was over.

Then, unique only to a Tenebrae service, in the darkness arises some kind of loud noise (in Ritter's case, I think it was tympanies!) that symbolizes the closing of the tomb.  Dark.  Silent.  I wish I could have stayed there for a little longer in the silence and just felt what the Apostles must have felt those 24 hours after Jesus' death.  Seriously, what were they thinking?  I probably would have panicked...here's this guy that was saying all these incredible things about the universe and NOW I have to somehow live without Him.

Tenebrae ends with the priest bringing the lighted candle back into the prayer space so you end with one candle shining in the space.  It makes total sense and was a total relief...God is here.  He's never leaving.  And you may think He's gone sometimes, but there are always little reminders that He is ever present.

The Easter Vigil Mass of Holy Saturday ALSO has a theme of light and a beautiful prayer that the Bishop read about how the huge Easter candle's light NEVER dims, despite how many candles are lit from its flame.

This was an AMAZING fact for me that night because I usually feel very "spent" like I couldn't possibly give another ounce of service, love, or patience to ANYONE..and yet, here's this candle flame...giving, giving, giving and never becoming lesser.  With the light of Christ we received at Baptism, this unendingly charitable heart is the same within each of us---I'm just always limiting myself because I can't comprehend in my mind how I could ever give so much of myself to another person or group of people and still be happy.  But the point is, we are given an eternal flame immeasurable by our puny human standards.  I want to pull from THAT today when I'm in front of my students! :)