Maundy Thursday icon.jpgIt is customary to visit the special altars created for the reserved Eucharist after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the birth of the holy priesthood and the giving of the Eucharist as the supreme gift Love to the Church. There we spend time in prayer for ourselves and for those we’ve promised to pray. Keeping watch is an act of love and penance with the goal of remaining close to the Lord. From time immemorial we learn how to keep vigil by making visits to three or seven nearby churches as a “mini-pilgrimage.” Tradition tells us that Saint Philip Neri is credited with popularizing the Roman practice of a pilgrimage to seven churches to keep people attentive to the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, plus to keep them out of trouble. The point of this pious and noble exercise is to keep vigil with the Lord as the disciples tried to do so in the Garden of Gethsemani before the Lord’s arrest. I will be visiting at least three perhaps seven churches. One can’t always find the churches open into the night even on Holy Thursday.