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Triduum Musings

St. James has been holding various educational evenings during Lent, and on recommendation I came to the Triduum lectures with Father David Pettingill. He is quite a dynamic speaker, and can quote scripture easily from memory. Here are a few highlights!

Are we listening?
Many times we have seen the classic scenario: a hostile reporter badgers someone with useless questions causing us to shake our heads with disbelief. I remember the classic scene in The Prisoner during the election when Number 6′s “no comment” responses were turned into three pages of erroneous copy by the enthusiastic press of The Village. Sometimes we like to do the same thing with God. We “interview” him wanting a certain response, but he gives a completely different one that we don’t want to accept. How often have we written our own copy instead of listening?

Disincarnation
Often we will start thinking about, “if only I were taller” or “if only I were better at languages” which is a common state for humans to find themselves in. Dwelling in that manner is not a healthy exercise and denies our personal incarnation. It is community which will help—when we realize that we work together, not necessarily as individuals. The High Holy Days help bring us together in that manner.

Catholic (and Anglican!) Coma
If you have been in a liturgical church for a while, you might have seen examples of this. People will spout off the words without bothering to think about them or even notice what is really going on. Example: elderly woman collapses in her pew and the pastor quickly shouts “someone call an ambulance!” and the congregation responds “and also with you.” This is extremely common and very disturbing. One of the purposes of the High Holy Days is to find the joy and excitement of the faith again.

Not an Exhibit
The Triduum is not about walking through a dust-covered exhibit to “remind” us of what Jesus went through. It is supposed to be an exciting community event. They should be turning the Church into an active body of believers, equipping them to do something positive and practical. It cannot be done alone, because where 2-3 are gathered there Christ will fully be.

Children of God
All during the week we can hear damaging notions of who we are from the media, culture and even sadly our own family. Each Sunday comes as a reminder that we are precious children of God. How much more in the Triduum?

Community
It is easy to become isolationists in the modern world, but it is key to remember that the gathering of community was so important to early Christians that they risked death to meet!

Triduum?
This refers to three days which are all one Mass. In Jewish custom, a day begins at sunset (unlike maritime when it begins at noon, or landlubbers who begin it at midnight) so it lasts from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Sunday. You know it has begun when you cannot tell a white thread from black in the dark.

Our Example
Jesus goes to God and comes back to us as our brother. He is everything God plans for us to be, and gives us the Holy Spirit to help us become a true child of God.

Fasting = No to me, Yes to others
If you feel a distance between yourself and God, a fast can help with that, but do not do it when you feel close to him—that is a time of feasting. Although, fasting is our choice now, rather than being dictated, so take the time to make that choice!

Life Before Liturgy
Words have no meaning  without purpose and true belief behind them. If something is not really happening, words will not make it happen. An example would be marriage: first two people relate to each other, then there is the ritual of marriage to fulfill that. The ritual does not create the relationship. We are all God’s family, so some of us are a bit of a mess, but can live again through helping each other. The Triduum is a good way to bring us closer together through healing, forgiveness, and equipping each other.

The Otherness of God
Lent, the Triduum, and Easter is a time of renewal, not just Jesus and one person off on their own. God is a trinity—He himself is in a relationship/family. We too are called to relate in a community, rather than just by ourselves. We often hear of helping the stranger, or giving alms, which is a reminds us to change our perspective of people who seem, on the outside, to be different. Let the person you might react to as being “different” be Christ in a way, by representing the otherness of God within our love for Him. It can become our transfiguration when we transform and renew our mind about “strangers”. You may discover the answer to prayer in other people that you did not expect it to come from.

Q&A Session
- A family dinner can be a type of sacrament
- God does not love based on performance
- Parents are an important model of love
- Triduum is an explosion of joy
- Breaking the ‘mold’ of religion through human interaction
- Suffering can create a bond between us
- Vulnerable moments are crucial to connect as a community

Part II coming soon if I have next Monday night off work!




Small Church vs Large Church

Small Churches

- Most people actively involved
- Friendlier to visitors / new parishioners
- Family atmosphere and sense of unity

Large Churches

- Very few actively involved
- Tend to ignore new people and form cliques
- Impressive atmosphere that is spiritually charged

This was brought to my attention when one of the masses I attended this morning mentioned at announcements that they needed more assistance since “the same 10% always do everything”. From experience in almost 20 different large scale churches I find that is true. Hundreds attend each week, but only a dozen run every aspect of the church. They are overworked, and will often finally burn out and vanish, putting more work on the very few that are left. Why can’t some of the other hundreds put in a bit of help? I have no idea. These are just the facts of the situation. One person I know propounded that in a smaller church people can be individually asked to help in certain areas, and it is clear where each person’s skills and gifts are. In a large church there tend to be “altar call” type requests “please we need volunteers for ___” and everyone figures everyone else will do it. There isn’t that human contact one on one request.

I have also noticed in the many large churches I have attended, that “N00bs” tend to be forgotten and neglected. With so many people present, it is hard to know who is new and who has attended for years. My motto: When in doubt introduce yourself. If you don’t recognize someone near you, say hello and try to talk with them. It doesn’t hurt to ask “how long have you been coming?” otherwise people could attend a service for a year and get nothing more than a “Peace”. This is very frustrating. Look around if you are in a large parish and greet those near you, even if they aren’t your bosom friends. What tends to happen after services is that each person rushes to their “group” and that’s that. It is very hard to break into situations like that. In small churches with maybe 20 people total on a Sunday, you pretty much talk with every single other person every week. New people stick out big time and are easy to spot and make welcome. With a little bit of effort, this could be true of a large church as well. But each person needs to step forward and take that initiative. No more “let someone else do it” attitude, because people aren’t. Some churches tried to rectify this by starting “small home groups” or Bible Studies, but that doesn’t work. Guess what– the same 10% go to those groups too! lol

In fear I am sounding terribly prejudiced toward smaller congregations, there are merits that a larger church has. For one thing, they are capable of making a much bigger impact. When they do all band together, they can make massive changes in their community and around the world. There is so much potential power there! Also, the sense of God’s presence when hundreds gather in His name is wonderful. There just isn’t that same sense of grandeur with only a dozen people.




Jane D'Aza Reflections

One of the interesting things I noticed, was that in several of the convents I visited during breakfast, cheerios & tea were quite standard. Since this is pretty much what I have for breakfast most of the time, it was quite an easy transition. I was quite impressed with the “tea drawer” as well. I think there were at least twenty varieties available for almost every mood– even Redbush!

Thursday morning there were only 3 of us at morning prayer, so we did a little switch off verse by verse through the psalms instead of doing L and R which was fun. Every single morning was very different as to liturgy. I always find it amusing that Evangelicals often think liturgical folks say the same thing all the time. Far from it! Never done so much flipping in my life (although I was told it was an unusual week for flipping). There are special prayer books created by the Dominicans, but apparently they didn’t print up enough so not all the convents got them.

This is part of the Community room. People will sometimes sit and read here, or gather after dinner, depending on what is going on and who is around. I had some time before dinner on Thursday so I came here to read. It is a very cheerful room with a view of the enclosed garden. Roses are in full bloom right now and gorgeous!

Sister Joan recommended this book– she was choosing some readings out of it at the time and I borrowed it from her. It has some amazing poetry and short fiction pieces in it! I’d vaguely heard of it before but had no idea it was so beautiful and yet also chilling in a way.

Markings
By Dag Hammarskjöld
Translated by Leif Sjöberg & W.H. Auden





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