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Years ago, my daughter asked for us to join our parish’s Altar Rosary Society, which is a group of parishioners who clean the church, launder the altar linens, straighten up the pews and, at Easter and Christmas, we decorate the church. For Christmas, there are poinsettias and ropes of evergreen garlands. Usually for Easter, there are dozens of lilies and hyacinths and daffodils and other beautiful spring flowers to adorn the altar and the statues of Mary and the saints, filling the church with their heavenly smell.
Tomorrow, the day before Palm Sunday, is usually the day we get out our buckets and clean all the wood in the church, and give the whole building an extra-special cleaning for Easter. As everyone knows, Murphy’s Oil is the smell of “clean.”
A week from tomorrow is Holy Saturday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar because it contains the Easter Vigil, the highlight of the liturgical year. After the Tenebrae service that morning, the Society gets all the flowers from the parish office and sets them in place. We use pictures from previous years to help make sure we are doing it right, the cleaning crews which clean together every six weeks get to see all the other crews and it is always a fun time.
This morning, after a stressful run to the grocery store, I stopped by the church to drop some items off for the food pantry and to pray in the quiet church, which remains open, even though there is no public liturgy available. Being a Catholic church, it is never empty (except on Good Friday when the Tabernacle is emptied), and He was with me as I knelt in the darkness.
It hit me with stunning force as I prayed. There will be no group cleaning tomorrow, although there are notices on the doors that the church is being disinfected regularly. There will be no sharing Murphy’s Oil and buckets and cleaning cloths and gossip. There will be no laughter next week as people scurry to and fro carefully placing the delicious-smelling plants. There will be no flowers for Easter.Published in