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.