April 15, 2019
St. Benedict Parish, our apostolate in Chesapeake, Virginia, has a unique memento of the Passion which they employ during the Sacred Triduum to aid the devotion of the faithful. If you go into the church on the evening of Holy Thursday, you will notice a beautiful clock hanging to the right of the sanctuary, facing the congregation. It is a 24-hour, fully-functional clock, but its purpose is far greater than to simply tell the present time. This clock tells the story of the Passion, recounting the events of each of the 24 hours from the Last Supper to Our Lord’s entombment in the sepulcher on the evening of Good Friday.
Here’s how it works. All 24 hours are marked on the clock face, which is divided into two halves, one for the night hours (6pm – 6am) and one for the day hours (6am – 6pm), the time being notated according to both the old Roman method and the modern system. The events of the Passion are written out in a circular timeline, each event lining up with the hour in which it occurred.
The clock was commissioned a few years ago by Fr. Neal Nichols, pastor of St. Benedict. It is based on illustrations found in old Roman hand missals up through the mid-1950s, and was crafted by Dixon Studios in Staunton, Virginia. Fr. Nichols places cards in the pews on Holy Thursday explaining the clock to those who attend Mass, and below you can see both sides of the card and its accompanying prayer.
One can imagine how the clock must bring the reality of the Passion into sharp relief, memorializing in the hearts of the faithful every moment of Our Lord’s hours of suffering. If you are near the Chesapeake area, we encourage you to join St. Benedict for the liturgies of this week and, with the assistance of a most unusual timepiece, to accompany Our Lord in a new and profound way during the blessed hours of His most holy Passion.