Ancient Passover Pilgrimage

Nicodemus came to visit the Lord shortly after the cleansing of the Temple. All of this happened during the sacred days of ___________. What does Passover commemorate?

Anybody ever been to a Passover Seder? The ceremony concludes with a toast: Next year in ___________? But the Passover celebration in St. John’s gospel actually took place in Jerusalem.

Originally, celebrating Passover did not require a pilgrimage. The Israelites celebrated every year in their various towns.

But during the age of the kings, the Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem became an important act of devotion to the one, true God of Israel.

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Prayerbooks, prayerbooks (Roman Missal II)

The Last Supper involved the ritual commemoration of…

…the passing of the Angel of Death over the homes marked with the blood of the lamb;

…the passing of the Israelites over the Red Sea as on dry land;

…the exodus of the People of God from slavery to freedom, with unleavened bread for their food.

So, at the first Mass, a prayerbook prescribed the ceremony, the words and ritual actions.

The then-ancient events which the Passover Seder brought to mind, and to life: the Lord’s Supper, sacrifice, and victory fulfilled them all. The first Triduum revealed the true meaning of the exodus: it all occurred under Moses’ leadership as an image of the ultimate salvation of the human race in Christ.

“The Lord has come to His people and set them free…to worship Him without fear.” (Luke 1:68, 74))

The Lord Jesus and the Apostles sang Psalms from King David’s prayerbook at the Last Supper, and into the evening.

–Why were there psalms of David? Because pilgrims went up to the Temple in Jerusalem, and they sang en route. They sang the Psalms as they went up to the altar of God.

Indeed, the Israelites sang the Psalms all the time. The Psalms were (and are) the interior music of the soul of the true Israelite. Where does the recitation of a Psalm end and personal prayer begin? The child of Abraham has no truck with such a question. Utterly inseparable.

We go to the altar to offer our worship to the Almighty. We recall ancient events, the works of God, which have not faded away into the past like 19th-century Presidential elections or Japanese shogunates, but which last forever. That’s the thing about Christ: He lives. He feeds us with Himself from heaven, like He fed the Israelites with manna after they gave up the leeks and melons of Egypt.

But we are human. We are prone to forget things. We are prone to make up silly stuff.

If Christ Himself used a prayerbook when He established the turning-point of history, then, when we go to the altar to worship, we need a prayerbook. We need one given to us by the immemorial tradition of the People of God (like our Lord had to guide Him on Holy Thursday), full of David’s Psalms and other Scriptures. (And ours, of course, must also be filled with the words of Christ).

…More to come on this, dear reader.

…Hard to believe that it has been three years since I started this goofy weblog thingy. Thanks for sticking with me. I think that I had a contest for the stupidest post of the year on the one-year anniversary. I would be happy to take nominations again, although I know the competition is fierce.