Holy Monday 2017
During the first three days of Holy Week, Easter housecleaning takes place in many Catholic communities. This is more than just another secular custom. Its purpose is to prepare the house for the blessing by the priest on Holy Saturday, and is an outward sign of the inner newness of soul of the family. This meaning should be made clear to the children so that they may help prepare the house for the Church’s blessing. By Wednesday of Holy Week the cleaning should be finished, and the remainder of the week should be considered as semi-holidays.
• From Catholic Culture
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We are planning on making a move in the near future, if God wills. We are not going to leave the town we live in, but it is the right time for us to live in a different kind of house for the next season of our life.
That means we’re busy cleaning, decluttering, getting rid of some possessions and putting others in storage, having necessary repairs made and getting ready for an inspection. It’s house cleaning time at the Mercer’s.
Most of us in the northern climes have some tradition of spring cleaning, when we open the windows to let in the fresh air and put a little extra elbow grease toward getting the dust and dirt out of those corners and cubby holes that we’ve neglected all winter.
In some traditions of keeping the Church Year, however, it’s more than that. It is time to get ready for the Easter celebration! In partnership with our Jewish friends, who traditionally swept the house clean for Passover, we prepare ourselves and our environment to participate in our great day of deliverance.
This year, for us, it also marks the end of a season of life (if we’re fortunate enough to actually sell the house and get moved).
For example, last week I threw away almost forty years worth of files that contained notes from Bible college and seminary, sermons from the churches where I’ve served, articles I’ve copied, and studies I’ve led. I had at least one file on every book of the Bible. I had ministry files, illustration files, mission trip files — all the kinds of files a pastor keeps — at least one like I was that thought it imprudent to ever throw anything away. Who knows when I might need to look back on that? Turns out they have sat in file for the past twelve years and I don’t think I’ve opened one of its drawers more than two or three times during that span.
But there it went — the material evidence of my ministerial life — into the trash can, out to the curb, picked up by the garbage truck and now buried in the landfill.
Well, there is other material evidence of my ministerial life: my books. When I left the church and came home, I brought with me 100 boxes of books. Over the years I’ve weeded out a bunch of them, given many away, and sold some. Of course, I’ve bought some too. (I’m not dead yet, you know!) I reckon I’ve cut down to maybe 50 or 60 boxes.
Guess what. If we move, they come with us. So I’ve been boxing up books lately too. I carried about 20 boxes of books and related things to the storage unit yesterday. And we have lots of stairs, folks. I’m flat out pooped today. Just think, if it wasn’t for Kindle, I’d have another box or two to look forward to.
We have gotten through a lot of the easy stuff, but this is about to get serious very soon. The attic. The big under-the-stairs closet. The basement. If a couple of days go by and you don’t hear from me, I’m buried under a big pile of stuff in one of those three locations.
And all this is just preparation for the move itself. Can’t wait…
The quote above says that Holy Week cleaning is designed to be “an outward sign of the inner newness of soul of the family.” So maybe I’ll get a little holiness out of all this cleaning and downsizing.
I wouldn’t count on it. It’s more likely “an outward sign of the physiological decay of this old man” who doesn’t like carrying books around so much anymore.
We’ll keep you posted. May God give us all a renewed sense of cleansing and renewal during this Holy Week. And if you hear muffled cries coming from the big under-the-stairs closet, send for help.
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Photo by Ginny at Flickr. Creative Commons License