English can be a tricky language. With its roots in Latin, it often leads to miscommunication, confusion, and misspellings on the Internet. This is never more so than during the time leading up to the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection.
Consider the word “passion,” for example. When we think of the common usage of this word, it means strong feelings that can lead us to engage in an enthusiastic interest, activity, or admiration for an idea, cause, or another person. These passions can lead to exhilarating joy, often defining the purpose of our lives. Yet, at this particular time of the year, the word “passion” tends to shift its meaning to a polarizing view as we focus this Holy Week on the Passion of Our Lord. When we ponder Christ’s passion, the emotional setting more closely relates to the word’s initial Late Latin derivative, “passion,” which means suffering. Drawing from the Latin term “pati,” to suffer, we observe Christ’s suffering. Paradoxically, Christian emotions this week demonstrate passionate (enthusiasm) faith while remembering the passionate (suffering) act of Jesus.
Today, we begin the Three Days (Triduum in Latin) solemn observance of Christ’s passage from death to life, Maundy Thursday to the Easter Vigil. Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, is another seasonal name that lends itself to some confusion. Maundy is frequently misinterpreted to associate with the similarly sounding word: “mourning.” While the sorrowful events in Jesus’s life on this day, his betrayal, his farewell address to his followers, and his arrest easily make the connection to the emotional sadness, “maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “command.” On that evening, Jesus gave us two commands. First, while washing his disciples’ feet he commanded us to “love one another.” Second, at the Last Supper, he commanded us to “take and eat, take and drink,” leading us to celebrate Holy Communion.
Finally, on Good Friday, we have another perplexing wordplay. Why do we call that day, the most solemn observance in the Christian calendar that recognizes the brutal beating and crucifixion of our Lord, “Good Friday?” There doesn’t seem to be anything “good” about that unless you skip ahead to the resurrection; that is undoubtedly an optimist’s view. Some linguist experts have suggested the term “good” referred to “holy” in Old English, thereby carrying on its original reference. Others have suggested “good” was derived from “God” or “God’s Friday,” similarly to the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God be with you.”
We invite you to be passionate about your faith. Beyond the wordplay, celebrate the Word made flesh, who died for our sins and rose from the dead. Join us for worship:
Maundy Thursday, April 6
7:00 PM: Holy Communion, Stripping of the Altar
Good Friday, April 7
12:00-3:00 PM: Individual Prayer, 2:00 PM: Stations of the Cross, 7:00 PM: Tenebrae
Easter Vigil, April 8
7:25 PM Paschal Candle Lighting, Lessons, and Prayers
The Resurrection of Our Lord, April 9
8:30 AM: Easter Egg Hunt, 9:00 AM: Easter Breakfast, 10:15 AM: Worship