The mood on Thursday plummets pretty fast. For clergy it starts with Chrism Mass, a powerful reminder of our ordination vows, a chance to be anointed for ministry once more and a great chance to meet and chat with colleagues.
Then Mass of the Last Supper, churches still dressed in white and gold, a celebration, albeit it solemn, of the gift of the Eucharist given to us. Then the Sacrament is taken from the church, the fittings are stripped, the sanctuary is left in emptiness and just as Jesus and his disciples went out from their party room to the garden, we follow the Sacrament to its resting place in a side chapel, decorated with palms and leaves, lit with just a few flickering candles (In the cathedral for a few minutes this setting was very Hogwarts as the choristers flitted around in their black cloaks before disappearing off to bed in the boarding house or home with their parents.)
I have always struggled with the Watch. in every other circumstance faced with an hour or two praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the dark and silence my soul would, sing, breathe deeply and relax.
On Thursday night I twitch, I fidget, I wonder ( or I have in the past when Ive been at “home”) how many people will stay, I count those leaving, I fret about whether we advertised it well enough, I shiver with cold and fidget some more. Then I feel bad that I can’t do what Jesus asked..watch & pray just one hour even. I feel like this precious time is wasted as my thoughts wander. I feel like the presence of Jesus in the Sacrament is distant and disconnected from me.
and then, suddenly, tonight, it hit me. It’s *supposed* to be like this.. I am feeling exactly how the disciples did, uncomfortable, twitchy, unsure, guilty, probably cold, tired. this isn’t a blissful prayer experience it’s raw uncertainty, waiting; everything I’ve felt on this night before is the right thing to feel. it fits.
I felt a bit better, as I tried to pray struggling with words and pictures in my head, and then another revelation. Jesus is in the garden praying for *me*. I don’t need to struggle with words or thoughts, he just asks me to be aware of his prayers and to join with him in them. As he struggles with what lies ahead, he prays for each of us; as we wait & watch he prays. Holding us.
The watch ended with Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
0 good Jesus, hear me;
Within Thy wounds, hide me;
Permit me not to be separated from ‘Thee;
From the wicked foe defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen.
which sent me home with an earworm of Soul of my Saviour