Water Mixed with Vinegar
A friend of mine shared with me his experience of a virtual eight-day retreat during this year’s Holy Week. He gave me permission to share our conversation on igNation.
Before the stay-home order, my friend was planning to go on a retreat at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, MA, and this was cancelled due to COVID-19. The staff at the Retreat House then decided to send out a daily meditation by email, thus turning this into a virtual retreat.
The meditation materials for Holy Thursday, he said, included an additional material. “What was it?”, I asked. “It was titled ‘Holy Thursday at Home’. It offered a way to commemorate the Lord’s Supper at home, with bread and wine, shared together with family members, in a prayerful gathering just like the early Christian communities and believers gathered in homes to give thanks in memory of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus.”
Out of curiosity and in a playful way, I asked him if he believed that the bread and wine shared together this Holy Thursday at home are communion to the body and blood of our Lord. He smiled and responded: “It’s up to God to make that decision”.
Then, he shared with me how he spent Good Friday during confinement, coming up with his own creativity. “I followed Good Friday’s ceremony on YouTube, with the Pope celebrating from an empty St. Peter’s Basilica” he said. “Before the ceremony began, I had handy a glass of water mixed with vinegar, which I sipped along the ceremony” he pursued. I asked him why he had water mixed with vinegar.
“That helped me to connect with Christ, who was offered a sour vinegar on the Cross. It was a way for me to share in his sufferings, but also to taste the sufferings of those for whom life has become a sour vinegar. And when real life, anytime down the road, would serve me with difficulties, I would remember this sour tasting vinegar mixed with water, and realize that Christ is with me and walks with me.”
I was touched by his creativity, and amazed with his virtual – and yet truly concrete – participation in the Holy Week’s highlights during this confinement due to Covid-19.