Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Maunday

First we had Palm Sunday. Now, after lying low for a couple of days, Holy Week kicks back into action with Maundy Thursday, a fairly good show if staged properly. Last Supper time supper time.

Maundy: from Middle English and Old French mande derived from the Latin mandatum, the first word of "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you") which is said or sung (call and response) while getting all kinky with somebodies' feet.

There is also  maundsor which was a little basket or purse used by Kings to give alms to the poor. Maundsor is related to other words derived from a Latin term meaning "to beg".

Part of the disinformation campaign
Aha! It's about the poor, about giving money to the poor, about helping the poor. But the show then reveals that everything, and I mean everything, is going to be taken away from poorfolk. Literally. The altar is stripped bare. Oh, by the way, if you pick the right church, you'll get guys in drag with big hair hats waving censors of burning incense in a phony little "ceremony'  in which they make you watch them take away everything they see.

Anyway, the thievery of the rich isn't really obvious to the poor peasant working class. Smoke and mirrors, lack of education. The reality is always censored. They keep the truth from us! If you keep up with the story, the central character gets all involved with rich folk and landowners. And then they have him killed because he doesn't own anything else they can take, and he probably couldn't pay the bill for that big supper. They have to get rid of him lest he tell everyone the truth. That'll end their lucrative little scheme. And upset the rabble.

Coming Next : Good Friday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Palms

Ah, Palm Sunday. Even though I live across the street from St. Michael's Episcopal, I didn't see a single palm anywhere. And no kids at all. Just older folks. If I lived a couple of blocks south, over by St. Michael's RC, maybe there would be a few kids with palms. When I was young, the Methodist Church once passed them out to both the Adult and the Youth choir before the start of the service. We got to make an entrance in robes, waving palm leaves around. (Hey, that was pretty heady stuff for Methodists.) At least I think that was real and not an edited memory.

Bethesda Methodist Youth Choir, Easter time 1958.
(Click to enlarge)

In case you're curious - there I am! I was 7 years old.

Back to St Michael for a minute. Why does Brattleboro have two churches named for Saint Michael? I don't know. I wonder if they do, or which came first. It's kinda the story of Brattleboro in a way. One shop moves in and is successful. Another shop with a similar theme moves in. The area is able to sustain one, but two simply split the business between them. Eventually, they both cease to attract customers and go out of business. So far, the balance here seems okay, except that at some point around the 1920s or 30s, the Episcopal church moved a few blocks north out to the edge of what was then town. I've been to both churches' websites and neither mentions their history, nor is their comment about St. Mikey. Hmm, I wonder if that was blasphemy? I should tread carefully here - Saint Michael is the biggie in the Archangel biz, after all.
Saint Michael, Archangel.
St. Mike shows up in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ya know how there is a Prince of Darkness? Well, Michael is the Prince of Light. Captain of the Host of the Lord. On at least one occasion, Michael stood in for the Big Guy. Michael is the angel of forbearance and mercy. He taught Adam the skill of farming. He passed the tablets of Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.. He rescued Abraham from the fiery furnace he'd been thrown into by Nimrod. It was Michael who led Lot and his family out of Sodom. Michael is in charge of the souls of the just, and it is he who will kill the Antichrist. He's protector of this that and the other thing, and if that's not enough to show you how seriously important he is, well, he's the head of The Watchers. (The Watchers were fallen angels who numbered about 200 and were known as the Grigori.)

My cousin Patricia with palm, and Easter Eggs
waiting to be hard boiled and colored, 1962.
So. Palm Sunday. Weeks, months, have been spent in preparations. Dad had already taken my brother and myself to Spinozi's in Woodstown to get new Sunday's best suits. Oh, God, fitted clothes (heavy sigh).Why 'Sunday's Best"? I mean, it's not like we had extras hanging around. 

Anyway, the full Church choir, adults and youth, entered in procession singing Jean-Baptiste Faure's 'The Palms'. The Esty pipe organ's sound would swell with each step we took down the aisle; "O'er all the way green  palms and blossoms gay (no comment), are strewn this day in festive preparation. When Jesus comes to take our sins away, ev'n now the throng to welcome Him prepare! Join All and sing His name Devine, let ev'ry voice resound with united acclimation, Hosanna! Praise be the Lord! Bless Him who cometh to bring us salvation!" Geez. I can still recall it all. Our church had an all wood interior. Parishioners would join in singing from a balcony as well as the church floor. The sound would reverberate leaving an almost a constant tone hanging in the air. To hear it was to be it, a level of universal consciousness. And may the Force be with you, too.
Palm Sunday, 1962. Cousin Patricia was 3. I was 11.