Curious about the history of Holy Week, and having no library at hand, I ran a quick search and decided to check the references over on the Wikipedia page. One would never want to write an academic paper using Wikipedia as a source – one would actually want to create an account and correct articles as necessary – but it can be a jumping point when checked for accuracy.
The first paragraph of the History section contains a paragraph from the Apostolic Constitutions:
“Holy Week in the Christian year is the week immediately before Easter. The earliest allusion to the custom of marking this week as a whole with special observances is to be found in the Apostolical Constitutions (v. 18, 19), dating from the latter half of the 3rd century and 4th century. In this text, abstinence from flesh is commanded for all the days, while for the Friday and Saturday an absolute fast is commanded. Dionysius Alexandrinus in his canonical epistle (AD 260), refers to the 91 fasting days implying that the observance of them had already become an established usage in his time.“
v. austere, n’est-ce-pas?
(For a robust article on the Apostolic Constitutions, see the entry from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.)
Reading the Apostolic Constitutions is a fruitful endeavor, if not long and ponderous, giving insights into early Christianity. However, because sometimes I’m all about spiritual growth and processing things and sorting out everything in life at the moment, what jumped out at me immediately was the phrase, “You shall not be as a wanderer“, Book I, p.IV.
We have to remain steadfast and true during these times of great change. And you can feel it, can’t you? Momentous change is coming, happening even now.
I’m not one to wander. While my focus used to be music, my duties in life have changed as I’ve grown in the knowledge and love of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and have sought to do his will. I fail miserably at times and no doubt cause him great pain, but it’s through grace alone that I’m able to remain steadfast in his ways. Late have I come to love thee, O Lord.
What is one to do in life, if not to come to know the Lord? To discern and do his will? To walk in his ways? To live a life of pleasing witness to him? To love him beyond all measure and to love our neighbor as ourself?
We all have a state in life: single, married, consecrated, ordained. We all have duties according to our state in life. We all have a spirit and once Baptized, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity – a precious gift which must be nurtured, dwelt upon in thoughtful prayer, and allowed to have rule in our lives.
So, getting back to Holy Week. Now is the time to live life to the fullest.
Does that mean taking a mountain trek in the Alps, or hitting the highlife? Absolutely not. That full paragraph about being a wonderer, by the way, reads as follows:
“IV. You shall not be as a wanderer and drifter abroad, rambling about the streets, without just cause, to spy out such as live wickedly. But by minding your own trade and employment, endeavour to do what is acceptable to God. And keeping in mind the oracles of Christ, meditate in the same continually. For so the Scripture says to you:
You shall meditate in His law day and night; when you walk in the field, and when you sit in your house, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, that you may have understanding in all things. Joshua 1:8;Deuteronomy 6:7 Nay, although you are rich, and so do not want a trade for your maintenance, be not one that wanders about, and walks abroad at random; but either go to some that are believers, and of the same religion, and confer and discourse with them about the lively oracles of God: —
And, what are we to do with our time, according to the author of the Apostolic Constitutions?
We do have to ‘work out our salvation.’
- What type of prayer will you do today?
- When will you pray
- What time will you go to Mass on Easter Sunday?
- What will you wear?
- What time will you go to Confession beforehand, if you haven’t already done so?
- What Scriptures are you currently reading?
All well worth pondering and acting upon.
And as usual, I’m off to practice what I preach. It’s one of the main tasks of my life aside from catching up on paperwork.