On Holy Thursday, at the end of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there’s a procession. Taking the reserved Sacrament from the tabernacle out of the church.
The procession out of the sanctuary looks a lot like the joyful procession with the Eucharist for Corpus Christi. But there’s no joy in the procession on Holy Thursday.
There’s an unspoken feeling. More like impending loss. Like saying goodbye for the last time.
Followed by an odd ritual. Called the stripping of the altar. With no formal order or words, everything that can be moved is taken out of the church. And everything else is covered up.
It begins in a flurry of activity, folding this and carrying that. As it goes on the mood and the tempo slowly change. Conversations fade. Motion slows. People gradually leave as the work winds down.
Until everything, and everyone, are gone.
Returning to the church early this morning, I stood in the back. And just took it all in.
The soft red glow of the presence light? Gone.
With colors dull in the cold, predawn light, the dim outlines of the barren sanctuary, the empty tabernacle spoke only these words.
Non est hic.
He is not here.Read More