As the Church throughout the world prepares for Holy Week, I offer you a “prayer” that I wrote a few years ago. As anyone who has ever worked in a parish office knows, anything that can go wrong does so in the days leading up to the holiest (and busiest) time of the Church year.
Blessings to all of you who are editing bulletins, writing sermons, riding the copy machine, or are otherwise engaged in helping to make this a most meaningful time of year for your fellow pilgrims on the journey. Enjoy:
Ode to a Copier
A Prayer for Holy Week
Holy Week, dear friends, will soon draw nigh;
From St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery to Christ Church, Shanghai.
Parish secretaries and their rectors, too,
Thinking of the bulletins that will ensue,
Drop to their knees and begin to quake,
Praying their copiers will stay awake
Through Maundy Thursday and the rest;
Without behaving as if possessed.
Rectors wonder with uncertainty,
“Should I have purchased the extended warranty?”
Misfeeds, toner woes and a paper jam
Always seem to accompany the Paschal Lamb.
Why this happens is a great unknown,
A mystery worthy of the bishop’s throne.
So stoke the incense, say your prayers;
anything to stave off copier repairs.
As the dark shadows of Tenebrae now approach;
may your copier behave without reproach.
And as we begin the Good Friday fast,
May it wait ‘til Low Sunday to breathe its last.
Mike Love, the owner of Coffee Labs, shared this with me. Sacrilegious? You could argue. But on the other hand the religious themes in Star Wars practically scream out for this depiction of the Last Supper.
Luke, of course, is the Christ figure; Darth Vader is Judas. Beyond that, I’ll leave it to you to determine whether R2D2 is Bartholomew or James.
For the sake of comparison, the Da Vinci painting is below. Just don’t ask me to wash Chewbacca’s feet.
I always find it peculiar that more churches don’t offer children’s services on days like Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. Kids are so drawn to the mystery and ritual and stories of our faith and yet we often exclude them from such experiences. However, forming them in the liturgy of the church at a young age can deeply impact their spiritual lives as adults. Wouldn’t that seem to be one of our greatest responsibilities?
No, a six-year-old isn’t going to sit reverently and patiently through an hour-long Good Friday service. But they still need to be brought into the story of the Passion. And this can be done in a variety of ways. So a parish can still hold the traditional Good Friday service in addition to a children’s version of the Stations of the Cross or even a simple telling of the story with props and music. It just takes energy, foresight, and commitment.
I was reflecting on this today as I tried to find a Good Friday service appropriate for Ben and Zack. There was practically nothing anywhere near us. And being on sabbatical I couldn’t take them to my own church (where, yes, we offer a Good Friday service for kids). So I decided to take them to Maryknoll in Ossining and walk the outdoor Stations of the Cross. I printed out a version of the Stations that I like to do with kids — complete with a “15th Station” that includes a bit about the resurrection. This is kind of like the 19th Hole back at the golf club; it doesn’t really exist. But I like kids to walk the way of the cross in the context of Easter rather than leaving Jesus in the tomb. And, hey, it beats showing them Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”
It was a blustery morning out there — 35 degrees and windy. But the boys were great taking turns reading the stations. On the way home Ben said, “Dad, can we do this every year on Good Friday?” Um, I think that could be arranged.
I later went to a noonday service by myself at local church. It was simple, quiet, and contemplative. But the one I’ll remember in years to come had already taken place earlier in the day.
Made it to a Maundy Thursday service last night. Barely. Lousy directions on the church website but I miraculously got there just in time for the opening acclamation. It was a church I’d never been to — took about 45 minutes to get there (though only 30 minutes to get home).
Fine music, good sermon, no foot washing. And I’d forgotten how odd it looks when the three sacred ministers line up in shotgun formation in front of the altar for the eucharistic prayer. Especially when there’s a very tall male deacon and a petite female celebrant. All you could see was the back of the deacon’s dalmatic and head with these small arms sticking out.
I did get my foot washing fix in on the way home. Sort of. I found Fordham’s Holy Thursday service on WFDU and I tuned in just as the school’s president was washing the feet of 12 representatives from the congregation. At least that’s what the announcer told the “listening audience.” Looks like I’m stuck with dirty feet this week.