Thursday, April 1, 2010

Clean hands--and FEET--for Maundy Thursday Supper at the"Little House on the Prairie"

I find Holy Week to be a somewhat difficult time for home schooling. The children have begun their count down to Easter and I struggle to keep their enthusiasm from erupting into irreverence. "Yes, yes, Lent IS almost over, but not yet! Remember, this is the HOLIEST, most solemn week of the year! Keep your hearts on Jesus and on His Passion, not on treats. No, No, no egg dying until Holy Saturday!" Lent is a little bit like taking a long, dusty hike with your children to a beautiful lake, and just when you can see the cool, clear waters, a steep hill looms ahead.

Here is where Holy Thursday (aka "Maundy Thursday" or "Shire Thursday") comes in! It is a little oasis for the children, both literally and figuratively. First, there is the practice of visiting the Blessed Sacrament in seven churches. Admittedly, we will only have made it to two today: our own parish, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and that of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Cross (which we visited with Aunt Ann, Uncle Pete and cousins Simon and Isaac). Then, there is the washing of feet. I remind the children that we are always trying to imitate Christ: we are called to love as He did; to forgive as He did; to live as He did. And so today, we are to wash each others' feet as He washed those of His disciples before the Last Supper. We decide who will wash whose feet: Daddy does Lily's; Mommy does Daddy's; James does Julia's, and so on. We all watch as each person's feet are cleaned and dried. A little perfume is poured into each person's tub. There is NO grimacing allowed. It does take a little while, but everyone enjoys the water's sweet coolness and the soft touch on their feet. (Because of their enthusiasm, the littlest children assist during each person's foot bath.) We talk about Jesus washing his followers' feet and why it was so unusual: the master kneeling before the servant! We talk about Lazarus's sister washing the feet of Jesus and how we should pretend that we are washing His feet as we wash each others'. Christ lives in me! He lives in you!

Children are so easily distracted. I am so easily distracted! This act of service reminds us that Lent is NOT over and that we are preparing now, together, for Our Lord's final
trials. And so we sit down together for our Last Supper meal, which admittedly is not a meat-lovers repast. In Germany, "Holy Thursday" is called "Mourning Thursday" or "Green Thursday" and so they typically eat various different types of green vegetables, especially spinach. Go to The Continual Feast, pp.187-188 to try the delicious seven-herb Vichyssoise. Tonight, however, I am making a large spinach salad with a balsamic vinegrette (vinegar to remember the vinegar wine offered to Christ on the cross) and rosemary buns (CF, p. 188). Everyone will get a little bit of wine. And if there is too much grumbling, I might allow a few children to eat some leftovers or carrot soup. But maybe, just maybe, they can hold off for some hot-cross buns in the morning!


  1. What fun family traditions!

  2. Impressive, touching--and hilarious!