Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Week of Salvation"

If anybody is looking for a good read this Holy Week, I highly recommend Week of Salvation: History and Traditions of Holy Week by James Monti. This book focuses largely on the liturgical customs of Holy Week during the first four centuries of the Church. The book goes day by day through Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday and discusses how the early Church celebrated these most important liturgical rites in different corners of the Roman Empire. Gaul, Spain, Rome, Africa and Jerusalem all receive the most in depth treatment. When reading Monti's book, one cannot help but arrive a deep sense of grief at the incredible liturgical richness connected with Holy Week that has been lost over the centuries. The Holy Week liturgies of days gone by had an extravagant, almost dramatic element to them - they were clearly meant to be the most aesthetically stirring of all the Church's liturgies. Reading about the solemn "entombment" of the crucifix on Good Friday in the early medieval Gallic church, in an actual coffin with all the pomp of a royal funeral, leaves one indignant at the insipid modern novelties that are permitted during Lent and Holy Week, like the leaving of sand or rocks in the holy water fonts. Anyhow, Monti's book is a great read for Holy Week and will certainly help you get into the Traditions of this holiest of all weeks.

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