Sacred Liturgy of Holy Week…


Triduum at Incarnation in Dallas was fabulous.

Is that really an allowed word when describing the three highest holy days of the Christian church?

Our oldest son goes to contemporary urban services there and expressed an interest in joining us for this feast of masses,

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Our Catholic church probably but not on the vigil,”  I answered.  Last year’s vigil at St. Joseph had gone on for three hours with full submersion baptisms and several adult confirmations.  Really not a very meaningful experience if you weren’t a sponsor or a parent.

“Come to my church,” he had said, “I’d rather go to a more intimate setting than to a mega church where I feel lost in the crowd.”

I would not have described St. Joseph as a mega church.  Even in London’s Westminster Cathedral ,where thousands congregate on a Sunday, the corporate atmosphere of everyone knowing when to respond, genuflect, kneel, cross themselves, bow and go up to communion gives me a sense of community.

St. Peter’s square in Rome too my intimate communion with God is not lost but rather enhanced by the knowledge that everyone around me is on the same page during the hour of worship…and afterwards we pray.

Our son joined us for Palm Sunday at our (mega) church and we joined him for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday at Incarnation for three of the most wonderful services I have attended in my life.

The people who organized the liturgies were very aware of how long each mass could take if traditions like inviting the whole congregation up for foot washing on Thursday, calling everyone forward to venerate the cross on Friday and baptizing and confirming new members on Saturday were followed.  At Incarnation twelve people from the congregation had been pre-selected for foot washing, the cross was raised up for everyone to venerate at once and the water was blessed and vows made and baptisms were reserved for the Easter morning masses.

Consequently the services clipped along and were not hindered in the least by the brilliance of the choir, reminiscent of our choir in London at St. George‘s.

We realized we had been to see the Incarnation choir when they visited London a couple of years ago and sang evensong at Westminster Abbey.

On Easter Sunday we went back to the mega Catholic Church because our favorite priest was officiating.  Just before he blessed us he welcomed all the visitors who swelled the Easter congregations and brought the total offering over the weekend to $52,000,

“We have a lot of visitors here today, welcome all you grandparents, cousins, sisters, aunts, uncles, brothers and out of town friends.  Boy, we have a lot of pagans amongst us….”

Wow!  That was funny, only he could get away with that!

“Come back when we’re not so full!” he invited.

We returned for what is traditionally low Sunday the following week and found the sanctuary just as packed.

Perhaps all those pagans took him at his word!

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