Understanding the Washing of the Feet

(Photo: L'Osservatore Romano)

One of the most striking traditions of Holy Week is the washing of the feet at Holy Thursday mass. Once again, we are reenacting something Christ himself commanded us to do, and the somewhat awkward and uncomfortable way the tradition is performed at many modern masses does nothing to undercut the potent symbolism of the [Read More...]

The Judas Tree, And Other Legends of the Betrayer

This is cercis siliquastrum, the Judas Tree: It is, according to legend, the type of tree from which Judas hanged himself, and its once-white blossoms blushed with shame to be part of such a terrible history. Or perhaps it’s called the Judas Tree because the clusters of blossoms sometimes hang from the branches, suggesting a hanging [Read More...]

The Three Pillars of Lent

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We meet again, Lent, my old foe. This time I will have you! I joke. I love Lent, at least since I’ve learned to meet it not as my Everest to be conquered, but as 40 days in the desert with Christ. That’s a pretty tall order to fill, and our forebears in the faith [Read More...]

Electronic Resources for Lent

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I’m rediscovering today just how incredible a single piece of wheat toast can taste when you’re fasting. This effect is not incidental to the practice.  In the meantime, I just want to point you to a few electronic resources for making your Lent more holy: Verbum Bible Software is offering a free copy of Lenten Grace: [Read More...]

All Depart In Silence

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Last night was the most striking moment in the Church year for me: the sanctuary lit only by candles, the priest processing with humeral veil and monstrance to the altar of repose, the Pange Lingua echoing in the church, the altars being stripped, and then the final instruction of the missal: “all depart in silence.” And so [Read More...]

9 Ways To Keep Lent

Universalis for iPad

Pope Benedict gave us a gift yesterday. He gave us a Lent that would focus our minds on Christ, the Church, and His People in a way no one has ever experienced. I awoke yesterday at 6am to learn–on Facebook–that the pope had resigned. The news spread across the world almost at the speed of [Read More...]

“God is dead, and we have killed him”

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb by Holbein (Click to enlarge)

  “Descended into hell”—perhaps no other article of the Creed is as alien to our contemporary mode of thought as this one. And yet, does not this article, which, in the course of the Church year, is liturgically ordered to Holy Saturday and which is especially significant for us today, express in an eminent degree [Read More...]

Saturday Song — “Dark Was the Night”

Blind Willie Johnson’s wordless meditation on the death of the savior is based on loosely on a few lines from old spiritual “Gethsemane”: “Dark was the night, cold was the ground/on which my Lord was laid.” Its melancholy tone is well-suited for this day between death and resurrection. [Read more...]


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