ALTAR OF REPOSE INITIATIVE
After every Holy Thursday Mass, each Church sets up an Altar of Repose where an alternative Tabernacle is placed amidst some very beautiful decorations.
The Altar of Repose tradition is meant to remind us of those hours after the Last Supper when “Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with the apostles.” To celebrate that event, or rather participate in it as one of the Apostles, it is part of the tradition to visit 7 Churches that night and say special prayers before each Altar of Repose Tabernacle. This visiting even though by way of driving, enables the humble blessing of walking with Jesus to the garden.
In each church, the altar of repose is decorated with beautiful, fragrant spring flowers and surrounded by flickering candle light that breaks the darkness. Praying at these altars brings us right to the Garden of Gethsemane to be with Jesus.
We have all been in a Garden perhaps you have one at home. They are meant to be beautiful and peaceful, a place of repose…a place where you enjoy visiting…but on this particular night Jesus is going to the Garden to pray like He has never prayed before.
So intense will His prayer be that His whole body and soul will be soaked with sweat and blood…why…because this is the night when Jesus will absorb in His soul the full impact, weight and misery of every person’s sin:
“After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed,a 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done. 44He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.”
Now when one person hurts our feelings it upsets us; on this night Jesus will experience all the hurts and sins of every person to have ever lived…and He will be so upset, that He is actually in danger of dying from a broken heart right then and there if an Angel had not come to comfort Him in His agony: “And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.”
And just as when you are sad you look to a family member or BFF to cheer you up…Jesus looks to His Apostles who are with Him to comfort Him but when He goes over to them…He finds them asleep. Can you imagine your family or best friends falling asleep on you in your hour of greatest emotional and/or spiritual need?
That is why Jesus says: “could you not stay awake with me one hour”…just one hour to comfort Him, cheer Him up, encourage Him so He can complete the task for which He came to this earth…to save all of us…
So setting up an Altar of Repose is our way of spending that one hour with Jesus…FULLY AWAKE…praying along-side Him to bring Him comfort and every person we pray for.
For that is what the power of prayer does…it helps make people happier healthier and holier…could you not stay awake with me one Hour…don’t you think Jesus is worth at least one hour of our time…if not every second? It is why we go to Church on Sunday…to spend that precious hour of time in the greatest possible way…worshipping and receiving Jesus.
“Father as much as I want to spend that one hour with Jesus before the very pretty Altar of Repose…because of the Virus…the Church will be closed.” The Church might be but Jesus is in you…in your homes…so your hearts don’t have to be closed. So here is what you can do:
Make your own Altar of Repose with Tabernacle.
Find a table in your house and a nice special place to put it: that will be the designated Altar of Repose space in your home. Then find something similar to a box or container or maybe you have a box or certainly can build one…this is going to be your Tabernacle.
Make sure there is a door like opening to it because you cannot leave it empty…you want access to that Tabernacle so as to put something very special in there…and what might that very special something be?
How about a picture of Jesus, maybe a Crucifix, what about a Statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Or you know what I also would do, along with Jesus, I would put a picture of my Family in there as well and things that I am most grateful for…maybe an item of food…a book…an item of clothing…a toy…this is your Tabernacle to put things in that represent what you love and appreciate most in life.
And then how might you decorate it?? Remember, the effect we are going for here is a Garden where Jesus and His Apostles go to pray…so make sure you have some nice flowers and plants…and also some candles…here in Church beside our Tabernacle we have the Sanctuary Candle which indicates Christ is present!
This is your Altar of Repose to decorate as you want…so really make your imagination and creativity sweat! Really exercise those decoration talents!
This will be your extra special sacred place at home where you can go and pray and keep Jesus company for awhile, bringing Him and all who suffer in the world great comfort, peace and love!
Blessed Healthy continued Holy Week everyone!