The Last Supper
CCC 610: Jesus gave the supreme expression of is free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve Apostles “on the night he was betrayed.” (429) On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: “This is my body which is given for you.” This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”(430)
With the exception of the resurrection on Easter, Holy Thursday is possible one of the most important, complex and profound days of celebration in the Catholic Church. Today we are celebrating the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Jesus Christ and the institution of the sacrament of the priesthood. You can find this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church stating:
CCC 611: The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice. (431) Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it (432) By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant. “For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”(433)
The WAshing of the feet
John 13:14-16 You call me “teacher” and “master” and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, Amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. (NAB)
During the Mass tonight, we will witness the priest/bishops washing the feet of selected parishioners. This mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water, a symbol of baptism. Emphasis is also on the importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which we now find present in the consecrated Host. If you would like more information, a great article on washing of the feet can be found here.
Mass tonight, then No Mass until Easter Vigil
Tonight’s liturgy will mark the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred “Triduum” or three, of Holy Week. These days are the holiest days in the Catholic Church. After Holy Thursday, no Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until Easter Vigil.
The altar will be stripped of all cloths, candles, statues leaving it as bare as possible. You will also see statues covered if they cannot be moved. This is to help us reflect on the emptiness of the world without Christ. Most importantly, the tabernacle is emptied and the door left open. The very thought of this makes me sad, thinking of a world where Christ had not come to save us, or be with us in the Eucharist.
Every year I am in awe these three days. I find myself troubled by our behavior and surprised at the turn of events from welcoming our Lord on Palm Sunday to chanting “Crucify Him”. I walk with our Blessed Mother and wonder at her love for us who crucified her Son. I wish so much to be more like our Lady and love more.
Lent has come and gone. I did not have the focused I was hoping for in the beginning. But at the end of the day I know our Lord loves me and I will continue to walk on this journey, knowing that He promises to be with us in the Eucharist.
How was your Lent? Did you find yourself closer to our Lord?