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Here are some Holy Week Reflections and prayers if you are interested.

 

Holy Thursday
March 28th, 2013


Gospel

Jn 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him,
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him,
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him,
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."




I recall watching a movie many years ago on television, “Judgment At Nuremberg.” Only fifteen short years after the real trial took place, the film was made. It had a gala of stars: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, and Montgomery Cliff, all of whom gave gripping performances to portray the tragedy of the Nazis in Germany, and to demonstrate how difficult it is to apportion guild and to practice justice in times of tension, oppression, and war.

Where does responsibility begin and end in the complex relationships of society, and in the chain of command in government? How guilty are the bystanders? How guilty the other nations who let Hitler get away with so much? The film story showed how easy it can be for a good man to be drawn into the orbit of evil. As Spencer Tracy, the judge said, “If we were dealing here with evil monsters, the judgment would be easy. There would be no need for a trial. But we are dealing with ordinary human beings, sometimes with very good human beings.” The task of apportioning guilt in the midst of such overwhelming evil seems a difficult one, but in the end, the presiding judge came to his judgment of asserting “the absolute value of a single human being.” The killing of hundreds, the killing of thousands, began to be evil with the wrongful killing of one.

The judgment of Nuremberg stands over the whole world. In all our arguments and conflicts, in all our wars and vendettas, it is the tragic killing of one, of any one, which is the step too far. At the root of all of our sorrows, all of our troubles, is our callous disregard for the priceless importance of each single human being.

On the Holy Thursday night, we recall another priceless human being. He was about to go out into the night to face his own tragic end. Out into the darkness, and into the hands of men who did not care about him, or about what would happen to him.

At that table that night Jesus demonstrates in a vivid and unforgettable way, the value of every single human being. Enough of words. Before speaking lovingly to his friends about their imminent parting and distress, and about the comforting of the Spirit, Jesus gets up from the table, and down on his knees, to wash his disciples’ feet.

What madness is this, that he, the Lord and Master, should turn the values of society upside down and make himself the servant of all servants! No wonder Peter objects. It is natural to object to things that we cannot understand. So Jesus says, “Trust me. You will understand later. Let it be for now.” So Peter relents and allows Jesus to give us the most powerful demonstration of how to live in this world.

Jesus sets himself to serve others in the smallest and most menial task of everyday life – to wash someone’s feet; thereby giving welcome and immediate refreshment of body to his friends. If little things mean a lot, then this least, this most insignificant action is the most meaningful of all.

But it doesn’t stop with Jesus washing their feet. What Jesus did was to give us an example. Washing our feet was an example of His love and forgiveness.

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet,”
indicating that we must wash away the sin of each other through forgiveness; all the dirt, all the hurt, all the shame, all the misery we have caused each other. Doing that we risk our pride, our self righteousness, our good standing, our identity as slaves of ourselves to sin. But so doing we are able to be forgiven and to forgive. Forgiveness begets love. Forgiveness is born of love. Love makes all good things possible. Love heals all wounds. Love conquers all that is evil, but only because Jesus wishes it to be so, not because of anything that we have done or could do. When we wash each other’s feet we are washing the whole self – the whole self of all of humankind; believers and unbelievers, rulers and the ruled, rich and poor filled and hungry, the well dressed and the naked. “Wash each other’s feet,” he said. And after that, break your bread, sharing it all over the world, all over humanity until I will be with you again in the kingdom to come.




© Deacon Steve A. Politte
April 5th, 2012

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Holy Week Readings and Thanksgiving Prayers

by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.


Holy Week, the annual remembrance of the Lord's suffering, death, and resurrection, has always been the most important event of the Christian calendar right from the beginning. The early Christians observed the special days of Holy Week in a spirit of prayerful gratitude, overwhelmed by how far God was willing to go to bring us back to Himself. They were particularly amazed by the way the events of Jesus' death and final victory were so mysteriously prefigured in the Old Testament.


In order to enrich our own Holy Week prayers, we've printed selections below from two ancient Holy Week homilies, followed by a special Holy Week thanksgiving prayers appropriate for either personal or corporate use. May these resources serve to deepen our appreciation of the wisdom and love displayed in the Father's marvelous plan of salvation! For more free Holy Week/Tridum resources, visit the Lent and Holy Week section of The Crossroads Initiative Library.



St. Ephrem (A Syrian deacon who wrote around 360 A.D.)


Our Lord subjected his might, and they seized him,
so that through his living death he might give life to Adam.
He gave his hands to be pierced by nails
to make up for the hand which plucked the fruit.
He was struck on his cheek in the judgment room
to make up for the mouth that ate in Eden.
And while Adam's foot was free, his feet were pierced.
Our Lord was stripped that we might be clothed.
With the gall and vinegar he sweetened
the poison of the serpent which had bitten men.



St. Melito (a Holy Week sermon from the Bishop of Sardis given around 170 A.D.)

This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people:
This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac,
and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph,
and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb,
and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.
This is the one who became human in a virgin,
who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth,
who was resurrected from among the dead,
and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.
The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged;
the one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled;
the one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree.
The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered,
the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel.
This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent.
This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice,
and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night;
the one who was not broken while on the tree,
who did not see dissolution while in the earth.
who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.



Thanksgiving Prayers For Use During Holy Week



Father of Mercy and Salvation,
As you planted the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, so you have planted the cross of your Son in the New Paradise, replacing the tree that brought us death with the gracious tree that brings us life.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As you judged the earth by water and saved Noah by means of the ark, so you judged the world in the water of your Son's pierced side, and saved a remnant through the wood of his cross.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Abraham's only son, the son he loved, bore to Moriah the wood of his sacrifice, so your only Son, the beloved Son, bore his cross to Golgotha, that the blessing of Abraham might be given to the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Joseph was sold by his brothers and reckoned as dead, yet was raised in glory to the King's right hand, so you Son was delivered to death by his brothers and raised in glory by your Spirit to rule at your side.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As the blood of the lamb turned away the angel of death and delivered Israel from Pharaoh's reign, so the blood of your Son has saved us from death and delivered us from bondage to Satan and the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with blood to atone for the sins of the people, so your Son entered the true Holy Place and presented the blood that atones for the sins of the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness to heal those who suffered for their sin, so the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross to bear our sin and make us whole.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Jonah lay three days in the belly of the whale, and was raised from death to preach repentance to the Gentiles, so your Son was raised from the bowels of the earth to reconcile all nations to yourself.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

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The Tridum:

PERSONAL AND FAMILY PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS



by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.


Sundown on Holy Thursday during Holy Week marks the beginning of three sacred days (Triduum) that changed the destiny of the human race. Few of us have sufficient time to make use of all the following suggestions for prayers during these holy days, but it would be a tragedy to let this season of grace go by without taking some time for extended prayer and reflection. So steal away for as much time as you can and let the Spirit help you pick and choose which devotions will best help you make the most of this special time.


HOLY THURSDAY

Jn. 13:1-18:27 deals with the words and deeds of Jesus on the evening of Holy Thursday, including the washing of feet of the disciples and the Last Supper discourse and priestly prayer of our Lord, Jesus arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter's denial. Prayerfully read as much of this as you can--these are some of the most powerful and moving chapters in the entire Bible, perfect to read during Holy Week.


GOOD FRIDAY MORNING

1) Repentance for Complicity in Christ's Betrayal (approx. 60 min) Read Lk. 22:39 through Lk. 23:26, but only after asking the Holy Spirit to answer these questions in the course of your reading:

1. In what way am I an accomplice in the betrayal and execution of the Lord?

2. Whom in the gospel narrative do I most resemble: the disciples asleep in the garden? the cowardly Peter? the irresponsible Pilate? someone else?

3. Write down the answers in your journal, if you keep one.


In response to the Spirit's prompting:

1. Pray a prayer repenting of the particular sins in your life that have made you an accomplice in the Lord's betrayal and execution.

2. Confidently ask the Lord to help you to root these sins out of your life.

3. Engage in any spiritual warfare necessary to dislodge the Enemy from the area of your life under consideration.

4. Finally, seal this process by a slow, prayerful reading of Psalm 51. You might even feel led to memorize a portion of it.


Now that we have cast off the "mind" of darkness, we can put on "the mind of Christ."

1. Read Phil. 2:5-11 and consider how Jesus' humble self-offering on the cross was the perfect manifestation of his "mind."

2. Read Phil. 2:1-5, 14-15 and see how St. Paul commands us to have the same mind as the Lord.

3. Ask the Lord what particular characteristics of his mind he wishes to impart to you in a new way during these special days: humility? obedience? a new degree of service love? some other? Ask Him to show you how this is to be worked out concretely and practically in the present circumstances of your life. Write in your journal whatever the Lord tells you.

4. Say yes to what He wants to do in you and ask Him to make it happen by the power of His Spirit.

5. Use Psalm 116, one of the "Hallel" Psalms prayed by Jesus at the Last Supper, to express your gratitude to the Lord for freeing you from sin through his death and for bestowing upon you his mind.


GOOD FRIDAY AFTERNOON


The most solemn time of the whole Christian year is from noon to 3:00 PM on Good Friday since that was the time of the Lord's agony on the cross according to the Gospel of John. During this time, we should strive to honor the death of the Lord in the most personal and heartfelt way possible.

1. Meditate slowly and deeply upon Isaiah 52:13 through Is. 53:13. This is the song of the Suffering Servant.

2. Read Zech. 12:10 and respond with silent prayer of mourning and adoration. You may want to make use of "the Jesus Prayer" which consists of the following petition repeated over and over: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

3. In Jesus' time, the way to refer to a Psalm was not by its number but by it's first line. Jesus' cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," is the first line of Ps. 22. Read the entire Psalm slowly as if the whole thing were Jesus' prayer from the cross.

4. Meditate on Hebrews 9:11-28. This scripture relates how Christ the High Priest, by the shedding of his own blood, enters the sanctuary once and for all.

HOLY SATURDAY

Today is a day of waiting, a day of silence. Most Christian churches allow no celebrations on this day, including burials, weddings, Eucharist or Lord's Supper, etc. In some churches, communion is only offered to those in imminent danger of death! All this is a tremendous reminder of salvation by grace working through faith (waiting). Our Christian life is completely dependent upon the Lord's resurrection, but there is absolutely nothing we can do to make this happen. So we wait and meditate on the statement of the Apostles Creed: "He descended into hell."

1. Ponder Psalm 16 and Ps. 24. The "gates" mentioned in the latter psalm can refer to the "gates" of hell, which Jesus, the man with clean hands and pure heart, enters after his righteous death in order to liberate those who are held captive there.

2. Meditate on Romans 6:3-11.

 

 

Note:  I will add some of my own material and graphics later.  Thank you.  God bless. 

Deacon Steve!

 

 





 


 

 

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