Today is Maundy Thursday or as we call it here, Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday). It’s a time to remember the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. We did several things today to celebrate Jueves Santo.
Kathy and I headed to the church at 10:30am to see the flowers and decorations around a shrine of Jesus that was to be carried in a procession later on. It was outside the church under a tent. Jesus was up on a platform with an angel behind him and they were surrounded by many beautiful flowers. Jesus was blindfolded though I’m still not sure why. I’m guessing it has to do with the guards who were holding Jesus blindfolding him: “Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.” Luke 22:63-65
Then we went into the church to see what was going on. We saw a couple people who were obviously tourists. Kathy went over to introduce herself to them as she always does when she sees someone who is clearly not from Berlín. Two of the men were from Morazán, which is another department (like a state) in El Salvador. The other man was from France but spoke Spanish well. They were touring several churches and were interested in the church in Berlín. Kathy found someone in the church, Olimpia, who could give them a little history about the church itself.
After Olimpia talked to them she showed us what was behind a curtain at the front of the church. It was shrine of two large hands surrounded by flowers, lights, and a couple angels. Then she took us to see the new chapel that’s being built inside the church. It’s been a long time coming and they’re still $4000 away from completing it. But it will be beautiful when it’s finished. We were excited that we got to see it! You get to see some pretty cool things when you have questions and know who to ask.
Shrine at the church
A bench behind the shrine
Pink roses on the shrine
A variety of flowers
A statue of Mary inside the church
Another statue of Jesus
The Virgin Fatima
Front of the church
Behind the white curtain
Candles surrounded by flowers
Jesus (called "The Heart of Jesus")
and Saint Francis
Statues of the Virgin
Praying before the Eucharist
Windows in the chapel
Walls inside the chapel
Praying with her child inside the sanctuary
Olimpia at the front of the church
The main sanctuary as seen from the altar
We headed to the market around 11:30am to get a few things. We needed to find some white, or at least light brown, eggs that we can dye for Easter. Dying eggs here is not a tradition but Kathy and I thought it’d be fun for everyone. We also needed to get about 20 candles for a procession on Saturday night. And I needed a large guacal to use as a shelter for Chelita so she will sleep outside. We found all our items and also ended up with 10 mangos and 2 avocados. I may or may not have gone home with some Snickers bars (I know the only store in town that sells them).
We had quite a bit of down time this afternoon. I worked on pictures, my blog, emails, and other various things I needed to get done. I tended to all my little birds. Chiquita needed some time out of her cage to explore and perch on my shoulder. Chelita wanted to follow me around the yard and cheeped at me for some more maicillo (food). Barbara is always hungry so I often feed her tortillas or bread we have sitting on the table. I love our little animal family.
At 3:45 Cecilia, Kathy, and I left to go to a special mass at church. Cecilia said it wasn’t really a mass but a celebration of Jueves Santo. We soon learned that this meant it was a combined mass/celebration which equaled 2 ½ hours at church. A few things were different today compared with other masses. Both Father Candido and Father Jacob were there tonight for the mass. There were also several more altar servers than usual. After that everything was the same, with prayer and readings to start the mass.
Then it was time for the priest to wash people’s feet just as Jesus had instructed his disciples: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15. There were 10 men at the front of the church sitting up with the priests for the “Lavatorio de los pies” (Washing of the feet).
Earlier in the day Blanca had talked to Kathy and me about this part of the service. She told us that we should all think about what this act means. This is an act of humility. Washing someone else’s feet is to be seen as doing service for others. Metaphorically speaking, if we saw someone we had wronged or who was our “enemy” then we should wash their feet. It certainly gave me something to think about during this part of the service.
The mass continued as usual with collecting offering and taking the host to the front of the church. The priests spent quite a bit of time blessing the host and talking about communion. Then a baby was blessed because today marked 40 days after her birth. The priests resumed talking about communion and the Last Supper. After they’d finished we all went forward to take communion (even though I’m not Catholic I have been welcomed to take communion in this church).
As we were drawing toward the end of the mass all the altar servers and priests gathered at the front of the church. There was a procession around the church with the priest holding a sculpture of Jesus on the cross. Then the mass ended at 6:30pm. The priests and altar servers didn’t process down the middle of church like they usually do so it felt odd to leave even though they were still at the front.
Washing people's feet
In Spanish: Lavatorio de los pies
Presenting the offering and the host
Preparing the host
40-day after birth blessing
Watching the procession around the church
Processing around the church
We got some Pollo Campero for dinner. Cecilia asked us if we wanted to go to the procession at 10pm. She said she hadn’t gone before. I had wanted to go but didn’t want to ask because it would mean Cecilia and Kathy would have to stay up and go with me. They both get up earlier than I do because I’m a late to bed and late to rise person. But since she brought it up I figured it was safe to say yes. So once we got home I got some things ready for the morning and uploaded pictures from the day so I wouldn’t have to do that when we got home after the procession.
At 9:45pm we walked to the church. It was to be a silent procession from the main Catholic church carrying the statue of Jesus to the old Catholic church that isn’t used as much. We got out our umbrellas because it was raining and some long-sleeved shirts as well. We walked to the church and waited outside for the altar servers and priests to come out. Someone came around selling hot chocolate so Kathy bought me a cup. I had neglected to bring money with me.
At 10pm the statue on the pedestal was carried by several men up to the church. A large group of people followed behind. Many people had umbrellas because it was still drizzling out. It was a silent, somber walk. Not the usual music and singing that accompany processions. It only took about 15 minutes to reach the old church. When we arrived something eerie happened. The platform was too big to fit through the doors of the church. So they sort of hammered off two parts of the platform to make it fit. Kathy commented that it was a scary sound. “Why?” I asked. No sooner had the words left my mouth than I realized that it sounded like someone was hammering nails into a piece of wood. Definitely a powerful, unnerving experience to end the day and to begin thinking about tomorrow.
The church at night just before the procession
Beginning the procession to the old church
It was a solemn walk