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Saturday, March 31, 2012
Tenebrae–Entering the Shadows of Holy Week
With Holy Week upon us Catholic have many mass and services to attend. For some Palm Sunday is a favorite. I mean not only do you get something when you come to church, blessed palms but you get to recreate the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. For many Easter is their favorite as we celebrate Jesus’s triumphant over death with his resurrection. For me one of my favorite services of Holy Week is Tenebrea. Tenebrae is the name given to the celebration, with special ceremonies, of Matins and Lauds, the first two hours of the Divine Office, of the last three days of Holy Week. We observe Tenebrea in our disease after Vespers of Palm Sunday. This allows for more people to come and participate.
Tenebrea starts as any other Reading of the Divine Office. What sets Tenebrae apart is the gradual extinguishing of candles upon a stand in the sanctuary, gradually reducing the lighting throughout the service.. The last candle is taken out of the church representing the light of Christ leaving.us in death. Tenebrea ends in complete darkness. But the part that my kids love is the “Great Noise”.My kids, and everyone else in the church get to make noise and a LOT of it. The ‘great noise” at the end of Tenebrea is made by banging hymnals or prayer books on the pews.
There is much symbolism in the Service of Tenebrea. In fact it’s name is a symbol in an of itself. Tenebrea means shadow and represents the shadows and darkness that the death of Jesus plunge us into. The great noise of Tenebrea is symbolic of the Earth Quake that shook the sanctuary when Christ died. It is is symbolic of the chaos that we plunge into when Christ has left us.