Holy Thursday

At Mass, the ideal and the mundane routinely come together in divine perfection, for the salvation of the world.


by Doug Lawrence

Celebrating Sunday Mass, I couldn’t help but notice that the priest (one that I had never seen before) closely resembled the late, wild and wacky, Saturday Night Live TV show comedian, Chris Farley.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to hear the homily, which I feared, might be based on one of the old, SNL “Matt Foley” sketches. “Matt” was a fictional SNL inspirational speaker, “the man who lived in a van, down by the river” who couldn’t seem to pull his own life together, let alone help others to do so.

Watch the SNL video clip on Hulu.

As things turned out, I had nothing to fear. Our young priest read masterfully from the Word of God, and delivered a powerful homily. Nothing at all was mentioned about a van … or a river.

The fact that my priest did not at first, appear too formidable was simply due to a genetic coincidence. Had he resembled a famous pope, bishop, theologian or evangelist, I probably would not be writing this.

The point is … once that young man donned his vestments, entered the sanctuary, and began to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there was little doubt about who he was … and more importantly, precisely for whom he was standing in: Jesus Christ … our Lord and Savior … the one time, once for all, perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world … and the one who would … at the hands of that priest … according to the awesome power of the Holy Spirit … shortly become present for us … body, blood, soul and divinity … on the holy altar.

Reflecting on all of the above, I soon realized that God manages to transcend mere sinful humanity in many profound ways, none more important than the Mass and the Sacraments.

At Mass, thanks to Christ, we’re treated to an earthly preview of heavenly worship, where the ideal and the mundane routinely come together in divine perfection,
for the salvation of the world:

1) The Mass is the most basic and essential exercise in Christian unity. Every hour of every day, every day of every year, in virtually every country on earth, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered up to God for the needs of the church, and the world.

2) The priest, properly consecrated, trained and suitably vested, is set apart by the church for holy service to God and to man. In this, his personal looks or his age mean nothing, since he “stands in” for none other than Jesus Christ, who is God. (This is also why the priestly abuse scandals hurt so much!)

3) Leading us through the various parts of the Mass, the priest helps to prepare our souls (which are hopefully, not in a state of mortal sin) for the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ, on the altar.

4) Soon, there is the consecration, where the King of Kings and Lord of Lords … Jesus Christ … our brother, High Priest, Heavenly Mediator, our Savior and our God, appears in our midst … not as an ethereal vision … but as true flesh and true blood … under the sacramental auspices of bread and wine.

5) Then, at the “Great Amen” we all solemnly offer Jesus, the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice, up to God the Father, for the sins of the whole world, and for the good of the whole Church.

6) Having faithfully “lined up” behind Jesus and claimed God as our Father, we are privileged to consume Jesus Christ as our heavenly food. Then, we are sent out to share our divine gifts with the world.

As I like to say …
it doesn’t get any better than that,
this side of heaven!

While it’s extremely difficult for us humans to give much more than lip service to God’s ideal, it’s just the opposite for God, since he has absolutely no problem taking a world filled with sin and corruption … much of it directly affecting the Catholic Church and the People of God … and by the power of his grace … perfectly accomplishing all that he originally intended for us, at the Last Supper and at Calvary.

Catholics believe all this to be true
because Jesus Christ personally declared it
in front of at least 12 eye-witnesses,
who later confirmed it
in the Holy Bible.

One last thing … Word has it that Jesus also has a little place, down by the river:

And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month: the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them. And they shall reign for ever and ever.
(Revelation 22:1-5)

I hope to see all of you there. But for now, in this present age, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the next best thing. Don’t miss it, for the world!

A Short, Illustrated Presentation On the Mass

Pope reflects on Psalm 136 and Jesus at the Last Supper

Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Praise ye the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who alone doth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who made the heavens in understanding: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who established the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who made the great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever. The sun to rule the day: for his mercy endureth for ever. The moon and the stars to rule the night: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who smote Egypt with their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever. With a mighty hand and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who divided the Red Sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever. And brought out Israel through the midst thereof: for his mercy endureth for ever. And overthrew Pharao and his host in the Red Sea: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who led his people through the desert: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever. And slew strong kings: for his mercy endureth for ever. Sehon king of the Amorrhites: for his mercy endureth for ever. And Og king of Basan: for his mercy endureth for ever. And he gave their land for an inheritance: for his mercy endureth for ever. For an inheritance to his servant Israel: for his mercy endureth for ever. For he was mindful of us in our affliction: for his mercy endureth for ever. And he redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever. Give glory to the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever. (136:27) Give glory to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

(Psalms 136:1-26)

Link

Thursday of Holy Week: Jesus Institutes the Eucharist – the definitive sacrifice of the New Covenant.


HOLY THURSDAY, marks the beginning of the sacred Triduum, or “three days.” Earlier this day Jesus had given instructions to the disciples on how to prepare for this most holy meal, which will be his last supper.

Through the day they make these preparations (cf Mt 26:17). In the Mass of the Lord’s Supper conducted at our parishes, we remember and make present that Last Supper which Jesus shared with his disciples. We are in the upper room with Jesus and the Apostles and do what they did. Through the ritual of washing the feet (Jn 13:1) of 12 parishioners, we unite in service to one another. Through our celebration of this first Mass and Holy Eucharist (Mt 26:26), we unite ourselves to Jesus and receive his Body and Blood as if for the first time.

At this Eucharist, we especially thank God for his gift of the ministerial priesthood.

After the Last Supper (First Mass) the apostles and Jesus made a short journey across the Kidron Valley to the Garden where he asks them to pray and he experiences his agony (cf Mt 26:30). We too will process in Church with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to a garden (the altar of repose) which has been prepared.

The liturgy ends in silence.

It is an ancient custom to spend an hour before the reposed Blessed Sacrament tonight. We are with Jesus in the Garden and pray as he goes through his agony. Most of our parish churches remain open until close to midnight. It was near Midnight that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to the house of the High Priest.

Matthew 26:36-50  Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani. And he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch with me.

And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.  And he cometh to his disciples and findeth them asleep. And he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye: and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. And he cometh again and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy.  And leaving them, he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word. Then he cometh to his disciples and said to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest.

Behold the hour is at hand: and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise: let us go. Behold he is at hand that will betray me. As he yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he. Hold him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed him. And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and held him.

Link

Required Easter Duty: Confession and Communion – in that order.


Definition
:
“The obligation to receive Holy Communion at least at Easter time……Annual confession is usually made at the same time” (Definition from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)

From the current Catechism:

1389 The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.224

Practical understanding:

Receiving Holy Communion during the Easter season is, very simply, the best way to celebrate … in union with the whole church … the institution of the New Covenant and of the Holy Eucharist … by Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper.

Since it is essential to be free of grave (mortal sin) when receiving Holy Communion, reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also highly recommended (and even required, if grave sin has indeed been committed.)

The Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the Holy Eucharist


Melchisedech, Manna, Passover, Last Supper
(Click on graphic to enlarge)

It would take pages to reveal the prefigurement of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Old Testament. Melchisedech offering bread and wine was a figure of Christ Himself, Who chose bread and wine the night of the Last Supper as the elements for both the sacrifice and the sacrament.

The manna that fell in the desert was also a symbol of the Eucharist, which Our Blessed Lord said was Himself: “I myself am the living bread that has come down from heaven” (John 5:51). St. Paul, picking up the analogy, said that what the Jews
ate in the desert was a figure of our spiritual food: “They all ate the same prophetic food…. It is we that were foreshadowed in these events (I Corinth. 10:3, 6).

The blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on doorposts to preserve the Jews from destruction, was a sign not yet of a reality, but a figure of the blood of Christ sprinkled on our souls, which would save us from evil. Because the paschal lamb was a figure of Christ, it was on the feast of the Passover that Our Blessed Lord gave to His Church the Eucharist which He had promised over a year before, at Capharnaum.

Link (PDF)

How to recognize liturgical abuse

Click graphic to enlarge