Sunday, March 28, 2010

And so it begins

It's only been in the last year and a half that I have lived my life to the rhythm of a liturgical calendar. Not that I was unaware of it, but when BP was a Roman Catholic, I didn't go with her to church (nothing is as militantly anti-Catholic as an ex-Catholic atheist!), so I did not experience it in the same way. I referred to myself as the Church Widow and found Easter week quite tedious since I spent much of it apart from my spouse.

Now, however, I go with her to church so I have the sense of weekly continuity in a community, as well as the ebb and flow of the liturgical year. And as we gear up for this year's Holy Week, that is especially apparent as we both have heightened senses of awareness since she will be received on Saturday. Of course, I do take a more removed view of the whole thing which I experience in a narrative, not spiritual sense.

The Cathedral had an enthusiastic Palm Sunday service today, with a long procession around the block (escorted by San Diego's Finest) and a Samba band and dancers. There were long streamers, and banners, and more than 200 parishioners waving palm fronds and they processed to Jerusalem. So what's with doing the preview of the Passion on Palm Sunday? Seems to jump past the party and the enthusiasm straight to the end, without the deliberate pace of the entirety of Holy Week. I'm with MadPriest, who writes,

I have decided to do Holy Week this year as I think it should be done and damn tradition. I started today by completely ditching the Passion bit of Palm Sunday and going back to the Book of Common Prayer's template of today concentrating on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I remember, when I was a kid, that Palm Sunday was a joyous day with lots of "Hosannas!" I also remember how intense the betrayal of Christ a few days later felt when shown up against the jubilation of Palm Sunday. The Catholic insistence on getting the entrance to Jerusalem over and done with before the service proper so that most of the time can be spent on the trial and crucifixion of Christ completely buggers up this stark contrast between joy and sorrow as you leave church on Palm Sunday feeling just sadness and guilt.
I knew I was right! So drama-wise, I'm going to try to ignore that flash-forward of the Passion we heard today, and focus on the here-and-now narrative vector of Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, and the Saturday Vigil. That strikes me as the way to tell the story.

At least this year I get to spend it with my wife.


TheraP said...

IT, I myself joined the Orthodox on Thursday (2 days after my mother died so beautifully). I will think of BP on Saturday as she is received. And I wish many blessings for the two of you.

IT said...

Thank you TheraP. I hope the Orthodox Church is a good fit for you and that you will be very happy there.

My BP feels as though she is going home this week, home to TEC. i hope you feel the same about your journey.

Erp said...

The church that little atheist me attends did a strict Palm Sunday unfortunately a few flubs (the regular ministers took the university holiday).

I must admit I'm enjoying MP's little discussion with John Shuck over at
Shuck and Jive. Shuck is perhaps a bit too progressive for MP's taste.

JCF said...

You're being received (chrismated?) by the Orthodox, TheraP? (I remember you as a Vat2-phile RC)

I would have thought that a fairly arduous spiritual journey? (And which autocephalous branch of the EOs are you joining?)

I can't help but think of John Iliff (don't know if he ever comments here, but see G'mere Mimi, if you don't know/remember him---and his son, tragically lost in the Springtime of his life).


FWIW/IMO: if people are going to come Good Friday, they're not going to mind hearing one of the Synoptic Passions on Palm Sunday (GF is always John). If they're not, they're not. Personally, I think MP protests too much (but that's what his blog is for!). I'm just so HAPPY for BP . . . and hope some that, um, inspiring happiness blows over (!) you, too, IT! :-D

JCF said...

Hey, thanks for the tip, Erp---that was fun! [Stretching my little-used theology/apologetics muscle!]

wv, "diest" [Even switching the vowels around, would still be too much of stretch to describe Rev. Shuck. But, as is, is what I sang this morning: Ah me! for whom thou diest... ("O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded")]

Andrewdb said...

FWIW the count for communion was 391, although some of them did not parade through the streets.

IT said...

390, Andrewdb. I don't receive.


John Iliff said...

Kind of you to remember me, and our son, JCF. It's been 3 years.
I do a fair amount of commenting at Mimi's Wounded Bird and Colleen's Enlightened Catholicism blogs, though I lurk here daily.

Here's a rhetorical (first -hand) observation to chew on sometime :

I've always found it profoundly ironic that these sister churches (Roman and Eastern Orthodox) most adamantly anti-women clergy and anti-GLBT clergy, just so happen to take clergy sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults far less seriously [to put it mildly] and have far more problems accordingly ... than TEC.

Surely I'm not the only one to wonder why that is?

best wishes,

IT said...

Nice to see you, John. Our hearts are with you.

There's an awful op/ed in the Telegraph (London) that blames all of the scandal on Vatican II, conveniently ignoring the fact that some of the worst abuses pre-date it, and many or most of the abusers were formed pre VII as well.

It's far too convenient to blame liberalization of attitudes toward sex and long for a day when gays were institutionalized and women covered their heads in silence and sex was suitably dirty.

it's not the abuse, which can happen in any structure. It's the coverup, which enabled the abuse to continue. Once an institution puts its own survival AS an institution above everything else, and justifies this by the infantalization of those it purportedly serves (as though the laity are too stupid or weak to figure things out) this kind of thing is inevitable.

JCF, BP tells me that I have to stop referring to the congregation as the "audience". But I will send your good wishes her way!

it's margaret said...

I have organized the Palm Sunday liturgy to omit the Passion for many years.... some folks protested... so we now just bless the palms, process, read the entry to Jerusalem as the main Gospel and preach on that, then read the Passion at the end, after Communion.

It works.... with a little less 'whip lash' (as Kirstin would say)...

I hope and pray that you have a wonderful Holy Week --and, swimming the Tiber is far more than just a spiritual exercise... the whole horizon changes... just sayin'.

Love to you both.

IT said...

Actually, I think BP's swimming the Thames, since she's coming home to you TEC-lot.

As for TheraP, swimming the Bosporus? Not sure what the river analogy is for the ORthodox...

Grandmère Mimi said...

IT, I asked my rector the the same question. Why the story of Christ's Passion on Palm Sunday? If I remember correctly, in the Roman Catholic Church, there once was Palm Sunday and then Passion Sunday and then Easter Sunday.

Anyway, I would have wanted to focus on Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem yesterday, and move later in the week to the Passion narrative.

PseudoPiskie said...

If I didn't sing in the choir, I wouldn't go to church on Palm Sunday. Or I wouldn't go back until Easter. MP did it right. Margaret did it better than the usual whiplash. Why bother with Holy Week if you do it all on Palm Sunday?

JCF said...

As for TheraP, swimming the Bosporus? Not sure what the river analogy is for the ORthodox...

Yup, IT: that's exactly what it's called (I mean, usually by snarky Anglicans ;-/)

Mary Clara said...

Dear IT, I am so very happy that BP has found a new religious home among our ragtag lot. And those of us who have been following your story over the past several years know that this is your gift to her! How patiently and with what unselfish devotion you helped her find the door into a church that could welcome her (and you two as a couple) without reservations. You will both be in my prayers on Holy Saturday/ Easter Eve.

You write, "Of course, I do take a more removed view of the whole thing which I experience in a narrative, not spiritual sense." Well, the narrative is not to be sneezed at. It nourishes the soul and educates the heart. As does the rhythm of the liturgical year. It is good that you feel free to participate at your own level, letting the music and the poetry and stories accompany you week by week without worrying about whether you can assent to certain propositions. The 'spiritual' is not necessarily about beliefs in the supernatural.

In fact, dear IT, you are a woman of spirit, and we who follow your writings in the blogosphere are much the better for having been exposed to your influence.

I agree about the Palm Sunday liturgy, too.

IT said...

You are very kind, Mary Clara.

David G. said...

We have always been with you, ..and everyone else !!