It caught me unexpectedly that the Carmelite Sisters maintain an entire and prayerful silence throughout the Holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, not talking till the conclusion of the night Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday. I keep in mind once I was the “new kid on the block,” a recently-arrived postulant who was studying increasingly more every hour of every day about the means of life of the Carmelite Sisters. They amazed me, and I, who normally have the proper phrases to say what I need to talk, was rendered speechless at the pristine purity and wonder of their means of life.
I used to be all eyes and ears. I took in the whole lot—the easy furnishings, the absence of tv, and the evident precedence given to God and the issues of God. I marveled the utter readability and purity of intention of the sisters. It was all so other-worldly. When Holy Week arrived, I watched the preparations and took part in some of them. On Holy Thursday, life took a brand new, very-focused, very-meditative tempo. Everything simply slowed down. Some actions stopped. Literally. Others moved into second or third or fourth place in precedence as a way to make means for the Holy Triduum.
It jogged my memory of Carl Sandburg’s poem, Fog. “The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city . . . and then moves on.” If I may paraphrase, “The Holy Triduum comes in with a prayerful, waiting silence. It enfolds both exteriorly and interiorly . . . and then moves on.” Our life modified radically for these three days.
That is what I need to write about. What our days are like throughout the Holy Triduum. Why? Even after many, a few years as a Carmelite Sister, I nonetheless marvel at Holy Week in Carmel. I gained’t and shouldn’t write about the whole lot, however I want to provide you with a glimpse.
Everyone is aware of the well-known story of the onion. You peel off one layer and one other one seems. Peel that one off and one other seems. I hope you don’t thoughts my evaluating the holiest week of the yr to an onion, however it’s the greatest analogy I can suppose of, so, right here goes.
As a toddler, I grew up in an Irish Catholic dwelling. As I grew in knowledge, age and beauty, when Holy Week arrived, my household life was completely different. As a toddler, once I was sufficiently old, I attended Stations of the Cross on Fridays. During my junior excessive years, I spent three hours on an attractive, spring day enclosed in a church listening to the seven final phrases on Good Friday. As a highschool scholar, I joined my household extra absolutely and took part in the Holy Triduum liturgy. It was very lengthy, however I liked it. Something in my deepest spirit was stirred, though I didn’t know but precisely what it was.
Then, quickly after highschool commencement, I entered the Carmelite Sisters. This Holy Triduum was far deeper there than something I had ever skilled earlier than. And it occurs annually the similar means. The Holy Thursday Passover night meal over, we cease speaking. The grand silence wraps its mantle round our convent. Grand silence—days of contemplative silence, not making pointless noise or doing something extraordinary—turns into the order of the day. I felt and nonetheless really feel that I used to be in a really sacred place the place God and the issues of God took priority.
The Holy Triduum in Carmel is solely for Jesus, to accompany Him, to console Him, to meditate on His Passion and to ponder His love. Everything else is silent that we could take heed to and communicate with Him. Each step we take, every motion we make, every thought we predict directs us to Him and Him alone. What I’m making an attempt to say is that it’s intense and so very, very actual.
Good Friday is a day like none different. We reside and breathe the liturgy. There aren’t any distractions. On Good Friday night, in keeping with the customized of our founding sisters who got here from Mexico as exiled refugees throughout the non secular persecution of the 1920s and 30s, we take part in the conventional “Pesame” service which takes place throughout the early night hours of Good Friday. Pesame is translated as “condolence.” Dar el pésame is the expression used to supply one’s condolences to relations upon the dying of a liked one. Our Good Friday Pesame consists of the rosary recited in the naked chapel. We spend that point close to our Blessed Mother to accompany her in her sorrow. We meditate on Our Lady of Sorrows and spend a while in prayer—good friend to good friend.
During the complete day on Holy Saturday, we bodily really feel a separation from Christ. The tabernacle is emptied. The sanctuary mild stays extinguished. Oh, how we really feel this vacancy. It is all-embracing. Quietly we start the preparations for the Vigil Mass that night and our joyful time collectively which follows the Vigil Mass.
The new hearth. The paschal candle. The Exultet. The Old and New Testament Readings. What an evening! As an adolescent, I used to be first launched to this most spectacular liturgy and it drew me in. Now, many, a few years later, it nonetheless attracts me in—like a magnet. And annually, my understanding of and love for the Paschal Mystery deepens. Like the onion, annually a deeper layer is found. Year after yr, for over fifty years now, the Holy Spirit has peeled off the layers for me and directed me to one more nuance or a deeper getting into into the thriller.
I learn someplace that as a result of in eternity, there is no such thing as a time dimension, after we take part in the Holy Triduum, we are literally companioning Jesus. We are there. We are with Him. We can inform him of our love, of our gratitude for what He is doing for us. We may give Him our sins, our wounds in want of therapeutic, our household troubles and burdens, and He receives them with a lot love undergoes His ardour, dying, and resurrection.
Our church buildings might be crammed with Easter flowers and alleluia might be heard all through the world. But, this yr, if you enter the Church throughout Holy Week, could you keep in mind the humble onion and permit the Holy Spirit to peel again a layer. Amen. Alleluia!
Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.
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