Today is considered a “Holy Day” in the Catholic faith. It’s the Thursday before Easter; the day before Good Friday. For those that are not familiar with it’s significance, Holy Thursday is more or less the day that Catholics celebrate “The Last Supper.” It’s the day in which Jesus breaks bread with the 12 Apostles for the very last time. It’s the day in which Jesus prays to God in the Garden of Gesthemane to provide him with the strength he will very much need the next day. It is also the day where one of his own Apostles, Judas, betrays him.
Yes, I know I’ve said it time and time again … I am NOT a very “good” Catholic. I believe in God and Jesus. I believe that the death of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. I am just not much of a “practicer” in the Catholic faith. No, I don’t go to mass weekly. No, I don’t participate in the sacraments religiously (no pun intended). But what I get out of my belief in God and Jesus (and yes, the Holy Spirit, too) is the sense of spirituality. The sense that there are certain things that are well beyond my control. That there is a higher being watching over me.
Wow … I think that’s the most I’ve really “talked” about religion in a very long time. But seriously, there is a point to this all.
The other thing that is both the backbone and the bane of Catholicism’s existence is its traditions. The “bane” of it being that it takes waaaaaaay too long for change to come to Catholicism … which tends to drive those that are otherwise “believers” away once a situation (like, let’s say IVF for infertility) butts up against an individual’s personal beliefs. I’ve had many many many friends from my Catholic-school childhood fall victim to this. Me included.
But it’s those traditions that sometimes keep a person tied to their faith as well. Personally, there are certain things … like Advent and Lent that I enjoy about my religion. These “seasons” are richly filled with tradition and purpose; but they are also filled with symbolism as well. Advent … a time to prepare for the birth of Jesus which could also symbolize the birth of a “new year” or “new life.” And Lent … a time of self-reflection, of forgiveness of one’s self and others; a time to “give up” something of importance in order to understand what it is like to sacrifice something for others. Yes … it’s those symbolisms in Catholicism that I truly enjoy.
One such tradition that occurs today, on Holy Thursday, is the washing of feet. Yes … you read it right; the washing of feet. During Holy Thursday mass, the priest will literally wash the feet of 12 people in the congregation.
What, may you ask, is the symbolism behind this act? Well first of all, this is literally an act that Jesus performed on all of his Apostles shortly after the Last Supper. It seemed like a strange thing to do because really, why would the “Son of God” perform such a menial task on those that were brought together to serve him?
Now I can’t be certain without doing a major google search, but I have always taken this part of the service to mean two things. First of all, it’s a symbolism of purifying one’s soul/sole in order for this person to fully comprehend the assignment of which he/she has been given in life. A way of cleansing any self doubt. And second of all, I believe that this tradition is a practice in humility. If the “Son of God” should perform such a menial task to others … then we, as Catholics, should be able to participate in our share of menial tasks in order to understand humility.
Yes yes …. I’m finally getting to the point of this rambling. So here goes.
The reason I’m bringing this all up today is not just because today is literally “Holy Thursday.” The reason I’m giving you such a lesson is because today I received my lessons in purity and humility.
That’s because today … I finally got to talk directly to my Mom in the Philippines. And I’ve finally heard the news about how my Grandma is doing … straight from the horse’s mouth. And that has got me feeling just a little less anxious because now I know for myself that my Grandma is actually doing okay.
And when I mean okay; I do mean that Grandma has been breathing on her own since last Friday. To top it off, she has been discharged home from the hospital in order to be surrounded by those she loves. Her IV’s have been discontinued, and she’s responsive to touch and pain. However, she’s still getting her feedings through a tube and well, she really cannot talk. But considering where she was two weeks ago … this is absolutely incredible that she has such strength inside of her. And that has taught me the lesson of humility. That we can prepare for the very worse and things could turn out better than we think. God (and Grandma, too) could have other things planned that we are still not aware of.
And purity? Well … it’s a stretch, but the fact that I was able to talk to my Grandma on the phone … well, that was pure joy. As my Mom held the phone up to my Grandma, I told her how much I loved her and missed her deeply. I told her that I wish she could stay strong and get better, but that if she couldn’t do so … I would understand. I told her that I just wanted for her to be peaceful and happy. And while I knew I wouldn’t get to hear her beautiful voice respond to me, I just knew that she understood what I said. That purity of heart and soul inside my Grandma … that is something I’ve always seen in my every interactions in the past with her. And that is what I felt today.
I miss my Mom. And I miss my Grandma, my Lola. And if I could be there to “wash” their feet … to show them some humility and purity (well, as pure as I can get) … I totally would.
Grandma, you continue to surprise every single one of us with your strength. I love you and I just want you to be in peace. I’m praying for you and for all of our family members … that we will pull through with the amazing grace that you’ve always shown us. Thank you for your strength in heart and humility.
6 Replies to “Clean Feat”
I’m so glad that she’s doing better.
I just got really choked up! I’m right there with you on the bad Catholic thing… and I also really enjoy the traditions and symbolism that comes with it. I guess that’s what we call a “cafeteria catholic”.
I’m so glad your Grandma is going better! Still keeping her in my prayers
Emily, that’s great about your grandma! I hope everything continue to go well.
I am so with you on the Catholic thing. 100%
I’m so happy you got to talk to Lola also. This bloggie reflects my sentiments exactly. As a not so good at practicing Catholic if you only knew how many rosaries I said in my head since Lola went into a coma…whenever I could. I actually caught myself saying a “Hail Mary” out loud walking around a store after one conversation with Uncle Bert about Lola. lol…Anyway, I’m glad you got to talk to Lola like me and Margie….love you! your Cousin
Em….p.s. I re-read your bloggie again and wanted to comment on your IVF thing and how a lot of people who have gone to Catholic school and lived the “catholic way and guilt” for years have sort have had different views…what I’m trying to say is when my dad suddenly died on me, I turned my back on God and being a Catholic. I “retired” so to speak. I remember sitting in the church at my dad’s funeral in a state of crippling grief that I said to God this is the last time you’ll see me here. And it was….for many, many years. Some people may not agree with my reasons here but like you, a bad situation arises that drives you away. I have since found my way back to being somewhat Catholic, but on my terms (sans the Catholic guilt and going to Church). I do my praying on my time in my way. Period. I have a strong belief in Saints and Guardian Angels and am thankful for everything in my life… What really got me about Catholics were those who were such nasty people (for lack of a better word and to keep my post clean here…lol) they’d go to church every Sunday, ask for forgiven, receive communion and believe, “Ok, I’m forgiven for all the sins I did this week,” and then walk out of Church and continue the cycle of being the same bad person they were the week before. Real hypocrites if you ask me. So ok I’m rambling…but knowing that our family are full of devout hardcore Catholics, it’s nice to know I am not the only one who feels like this…thank you Em for sharing this and I hope you don’t mind me sharing my thoughts with you and all your friends here. Thank you to everyone here who’s been praying for our Grandma–Lola–*hugs*
Wow, all I can say is that the power of prayer is amazing, and that your Lola’s strength is equally amazing. It is apparent that God has some things in store for her before she goes home to him.
You know my views on Catholicism…I guess all the more reason to get my blog out. What I get upset about is the guilt- you shouldn’t feel guilty because you didn’t go to mass or pray the rosary, or do this or that. That is not what religion is about. The essence of faith and spirituality is your belief in God as our father, and that his son Jesus died for us so that we may have eternal life. Church is a way of coming together to worship how wonderful he is, and to give thanks. Church is also a place where you find common ground- a community of people who feel and believe what you believe. In the end, it isn’t how many hail mary’s you said, or how often you go to church that will get you into heaven. It’s your belief in Jesus as your/our Savior. The “being good” stuff is the way of living like Jesus did- a “Christian”. So don’t feel guilty- any of you- because God doesn’t want you to feel guilty. He wants you to know that he is there and to have faith. Without him, you cannot do anything.
Continued prayers for your Lola, for you, and for your family. Love ya!