In the Gospel account, Jesus and his friends left the upper room after the supper and went to the garden to pray. It was a quiet time, and intimate time of resting in the Father's love.
I'm not sure how universal the practice is of visiting churches for such times of prayer and meditation following the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. It is a common practice in this part of the world. It is our practice at Saint Elizabeth Seton parish to schedule a bus and supplement that with those travelling by car to visit the Altar of Repose in three area churches. This year following our beautiful evening liturgy, about twenty of us travelled the twenty - five minutes to the See city of Greensburg. We visited the Church of Saint Paul where I served as pastor some time ago, Our Lady of Grace, and Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. At each stop we prayed together, listened to a Scripture passage, spent some quiet time, and closed with recited prayer. It was a great experience. We found people in prayer at each place, crossed paths with other church groups making their pilgrimage, and met some old friends.
My special thanks to those churches for providing a prayerful, reflective space for prayer outside of the church proper, which is preferred. Each was different, yet beautifully decorated with flowers and plants and candles and a prayerful atmosphere.
At OLG I spoke with a couple who recognized me from my Greensburg days and told me that this was their 52nd year of making these pilgrimages together on Holy Thursday. I was impressed!
Before returning to SEAS for the final prayers, we fulfilled a tradition that my predecessor, Father Rick, had begun - stopping for dessert or a bite to eat at a local restaurant. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that this is one of the highlights of the evening. The evening was a fitting start to the Triduum.