I’ve been planning and playing the Holy Week liturgies since I was a kid, but it gets me every single time – the empty tabernacle. I know it’s coming, I’m ready for it, but it’s still a shock to see the tabernacle with the door open wide to show that there’s nothing there, he’s gone. It’s one of the most poignant visuals I can think of. I feel tears well up in my eyes every year as I see the empty space that once contained the Son of God.
It’s all gone. No candles, no cloths, no plants – nothing. It’s a hall, no different than any other social hall. It always hits home, that there’s only one reason a Catholic church is different than every other building and it’s because of the real and constant presence of our Savior.
Holy Thursday is exquisite. The symbolism and beauty are unmatched, yet the sadness permeates the room. Even the Gloria loses it’s usual joy. Our happiness is about to be taken away. We sang, “Stay Here and Keep Watch with Me” over and over. Many people did stay for adoration. Yet I know that I’ll go in for morning prayer this morning and the autopilot will kick in and I’ll go to genuflect and it will hit me again. Why? To whom am I genuflecting? I look at the tabernacle and remember. I may as well be in a gymnasium. There’s no reason to genuflect, but I make a small bow anyway because it doesn’t seem right to ignore the fact that he was there just last night.
I know many people who are enamored of miraculous apparitions and have even traveled to see the sites of apparitions. I don’t know if certain people are having Mary or Jesus come to them. I’m not in charge of determining whether or not these are real. But I know that my faith doesn’t depend on miracles or apparitions. There is a miracle that happens every day in millions of tabernacles around the world. Jesus is present there. What else do you need?