Holy Week is an important week in my life as a Catholic, however, I have to admit, I have not been feeling it this year. Dizzy spells, headaches, and sinus problems (mostly due to an injury from several weeks ago) have had my focus, and all I have wanted was to sleep. Instead of looking forward to a day of contemplation tomorrow, I am looking forward to not having to go to work, and being able to rest. It is a struggle to plan out my usual Holy Week traditions, but Holy Thursday and Good Friday have special significance for me, and I do not plan on abandoning them, despite my difficulties.
Holy Thursday, although an important day, is not one that I typically take off work for. As a young woman trying to make it on her own, I cannot afford to take much time off of work, especially not right now after having been out as much as I had been due to injury and then the transitions in my schedule. My paychecks have been smaller, and trying to squeeze in hours to make up tomorrow’s sessions…well, let’s just say that the reality of the situation is that I do have to work today. That said, the tradition for Holy Thursday involves dinner rather than anything in particular during the day. While there is typically a service of some kind on Holy Thursday, I don’t usually go to it. That brings us to the Seder Meal.
The Seder Meal is a feast celebrated by the Jewish on Passover, but Christians sometimes hold Seder Meals on Holy Thursday to celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus. There is a lot of criticism out there about Christians celebrating the Seder Meal (mostly from the Jewish community), however, for me anyway, I am not celebrating the Passover when I celebrate the Seder Meal. I’m celebrating Jesus’ Last Supper.
Usually, this dinner is to be celebrating with family and/or friends, but for me it is a private affair with my birds. (Seems a little strange I know, but they are my family). There are specific ingredients that you can read about here: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=544
The ingredients are all representative of particular elements of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. Although the link above shows the specifics for a Jewish feast, there are substitutions I had found in the past (although I have not been able to find the link now). For instance, for the bitter herbs, a romaine salad with vinegar. I cannot remember the reasons for the substitution, but I do know that that was one of them. I use regular bread for matzo (mostly, because I don’t have any money and cannot afford to buy the real thing) and typically chicken for the lamb, although I will likely be using turkey this year (as in lunch meat turkey, because that is the closest thing I have on hand). Although the lack of actual ingredients can be disheartening, for me, it’s more about the ceremony than what I actually eat.
I typically follow this up with a bible reading about the agony in the garden and the betrayal of Jesus. At this point, I begin a period of contemplation, which does not truly end until Easter morning. Now, I will be going back to work on Holy Saturday this year due to having so many sessions to make up, and I have been informed that an Easter egg hunt will be a part of the session, that said, the rest of the day will likely be subdued.