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Holy Thursday

April 5, 2012

JMJ

Blessed Holy Thursday!

See Customs for the Home for Holy Week for ideas to try at home.

This is it.
The day for which we’ve been waiting and fasting and praying these past 40 days
has finally dawned.
As the greatest drama in the history of creation unfolds in all its tragedy and triumph,
we do not merely watch.
We become immersed.
We will not only see, but also hear, touch, smell and even taste
the wonders of our salvation.

We begin at noon, at the cathedral, as our successor to the apostles, the bishop,
gathers his brother priests to renew their commitment to the ordained priesthood
which Christ instituted on this day when He commanded His first bishops,

Do this in remembrance of Me
-Luke 22:19

He also calls us to pray for our priests–and our bishop.

Bishop: Beloved sons, on the anniversary of that day
when Christ our Lord conferred His priesthood on His Apostles and on us,
are you resolved to renew, in the presence of your Bishop and God’s holy people,
the promises you once made?
Priests: I am.
Bishop: Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus
and more closely conformed to Him, denying yourselves
and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church
which, prompted by love of Him, you willingly and joyfully pledged
on the day of your priestly ordination?
Priests: I am.
Bishop: Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God
in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites
and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching,
following Christ the Head and Shepherd,
not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls?
Priests: I am.

Then, turned toward the people, the Bishop continues:

As for you, dearest sons and daughters, pray for your priests,
that the Lord may pour out His gifts abundantly upon them,
and keep then faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest,
so that they may lead you to Him, who is the source of salvation.
People: Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Bishop: And pray also for me,
that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness
and that in your midst I may be made day by day
a living and more perfect image of Christ,
the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Servant of all.
People: Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Bishop: May the Lord keep us all in His charity and lead all of us,
shepherds and flock, to eternal life.
R: Amen.
(Daily Roman Missal)

Also at this Mass, the bishop will bless the sacred oils
which will be used in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation,
received by new believers at the Easter Vigil–just two days from now!–
and at other sacramental anointings throughout the year.

The first oil to be blessed is the Oil of the Sick,
used in the anointing of those who are seriously sick, going in for serious surgery,
or suffering from the frailty of old age.
The sacramental use of this oil
(which, by the way, should be received as soon as someone begins to be in danger of death!)
strengthens the sick, through the power of the Holy Spirit,
to unite their sufferings to the suffering of Christ for the salvation of the world.
It renews trust in God, gives peace and guards against discouragement.
It forgives even the temporal punishment due to sin,
minimizing or even eliminating the sufferings of Purgatory.
It may also bring about the healing of the body,
if this would be best for the sufferer’s soul.

Next the oil of catechumens is blessed.
Those who are to be Baptized (past history for most of us) are anointed with this oil,
which strengthens them (us) to reject Satan and evil in all its forms for the rest of their (our) lives.
When the bishop blesses this oil, he asks that through it God will give us wisdom and strength,
that He will bring us to a deeper understanding of the Gospel,
will help us to accept the challenge of Christian living
and will lead us to the joy of new birth in the family of His Church.

Finally, the chrism, for which this Mass is named, is consecrated.
Chrism is a perfumed oil, usually a mixture of olive oil and balsam,
which is used to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders;
the three sacraments which leave an indelible (non-removable) spiritual mark upon our souls.
The word “Christ” means “anointed.”
As “Christians,” we are “anointed ones,”
inwardly anointed with God’s Holy Spirit,
which is outwardly signified by the anointing with sacred chrism.

O God, who anointed Your Only Begotten Son with the Holy Spirit
and made Him Christ and Lord,
graciously grant,
that, being made sharers in His consecration,
we may bear witness to Your redemption in the world.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from the Chrism Mass)

Readings for the Mid-day Chrism Mass:
Isaiah 61:1-9 (God’s Servant comes to anoint us with us oil of gladness
and to name priests of the Lord)
Psalm 89:21-27 “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord”
Revelation 1:5-8 (Jesus made us a royal nation of priests to serve God)
+Luke 4:16-21 (Jesus is God’s Servant, the anointed One)

Now we come to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper,
the last Mass before we celebrate the resurrection–
there will not be another Mass anywhere until the sun sets on Holy Saturday.
At this Mass, Lent ends (which is why Mass begins with the “Gloria” and the ringing of bells)
and the curtain rises on our observance of the Easter Triduum (literally, “three days”).
We count these days as the Jewish people do, from sundown to sundown,
so Triduum extends from sundown today to sundown Easter Sunday evening.
Together, these three days form one single liturgy,
one single celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There are significant intermissions so that we can go home and rest,
but the celebration we begin tonight will not end until the end of Easter Sunday.

O God, who have called us to participate
in this most sacred Supper,
in which Your Only Begotten Son,
when about to hand Himself over to death,
entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity.
the banquet of His love,
grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery,
the fullness of charity and of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper)

Readings for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper:
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 (the first Passover)
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18 “Our blessing-cup is a communion with the blood of Christ”
I Corinthians 11:23-26 (the institution of the Eucharist)
+John 13:1-15 (Jesus washes His disciples’ feet)

This shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the Lord,
as a perpetual institution
-Exodus 12:14

This is the Mass,
the great fulfillment of the Passover:
daring escape
from slavery to sin
wrought by the Blood
of God’s own spotless Lamb.

This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
-Exodus 12:2

There is no feast more pivotal
than this,
no prayer more powerful
than Jesus’ sacrifice
upon the Cross
made present beyond time
in every Mass…
especially this,
the day it all began!
when Jesus took His life into His hands
and offered it
in form of bread and wine
the substance changed
into Himself.

“This is My Body
that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of Me…
This cup is the new covenant in My Blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.
I Corinthians 11:24-26

The symbols yield
to God’s Reality!

Bread turns to Flesh
of sacrificial Lamb,
and wine to Blood
of new, eternal covenant:
the Eucharist!

And it goes on.

Do this in remembrance of Me
-I Corinthians 11:24

How can that be?!
How can mere mortals
transubstantiate?!

God washed their feet.

Jesus…poured water in a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet
-John 13:5

bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the meeting tent,
and there wash them with water.
Clothe Aaron with the sacred vestments and anoint him,
thus consecrating him as My priest
-Exodus 40:12-13

Moses and Aaron and his sons used to wash their feet there,
for they washed themselves
whenever they went into the meeting tent or approached the altar,
as the Lord had commanded Moses.
-Exodus 40:31-32

He made them priests.
He is their heritage:

Then the Lord said to Aaron,
You shall not have any heritage in the land of the Israelites
nor hold any portion among them;
I will be your portion and your heritage among them.
-Numbers 18:20 (see also Deuteronomy 10:9)

If I do not wash you, you will have no part in My heritage
-John 13:8

They pass it on:

As I have done, so you must do
-John 13:15

From age to age,
from place to place,
new priests receive the sacred charge
from consecrated hands
to spread for us
this feast
of our salvation.

Praise be to God!

What makes the Mass different from every other religious service?
Why should we care?
What debt do we owe to God and to His priests in making the Mass available to us?

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