Holy Thursday: Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper

Easter Triduum

The[1]Easter Triduum, or the Three Days, [2]is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday,[3] reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. [4] It recalls the Passion, Crucifixion, Death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.


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HOLY THURSDAY:

“A new commandment I give you,

that you love one another: as I have loved you,

you also love one another.”  

(John 13:34)

 

“In God’s eyes, love is never absent.

In God’s heart, forgiveness is never impossible.

In God’s embrace, no-one is ever alone or forgotten.”

 

 

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Normally, here in the parish, during the Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we formally bring up the 3 oils of Chrism, Catechumens and Oil of the Sick for display along with the bred and wine during the Offertory Procession..

These oils, were blessed that same morning in the Cathedral during the Chrism Mass celebrated by the bishop, priests and people assembled from the various parishes throughout the Diocese The Sacred Oils will be used during the year to anoint candidates for Baptism, Confirmation and bring comfort to people who are sick.

 

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 During Baptisms, the child or adult is anointed on the chest with the Oil of Catechumens. The oil itself signifies ‘strength’ and we pray that the candidate will be strengthened with the Power of Christ.

‘We anoint you with the oil of salvation

 in the name of Christ our Saviour;

 may he strengthen you with his power,

who lives and reigns for ever and ever’.

 

After the pouring of water, the candidate is then anointed on the forehead with the Oil of Chrism. The prayer accompanying this anointing, is a form of wish that the Child will live in ‘Christ-like’ way,

In other words that the person will be Christian.

 

‘God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the Chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life. All: Amen’.

 

Candidates for Confirmation, are also anointed with the Oil of Chrism with the words:

“N… . be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

{Ordination to the Priesthood is the third occasion the Oil of Chrism is used}

 

Finally, during times of illness, by request the sick person is anointed with the Oil of the Sick.

‘Through the Sacrament of this Holy Anointing

 may you be helped by the Lord in his love and mercy

through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

 R. Amen’.

 

The Mass of the Lords Supper recalls the night before he died when Jesus celebrated the ‘Last Supper’ with his disciples.

The celebration has such strong links with the Jewish Haggadah/ The Passover Meal, which recounts Moses leading the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to a life of freedom in the  ‘Promised Land’,

 

Thematically, the Jewish Haggadah (the retelling of their escape) is described as a Celebration of Freedom. You can imagine the vital place this celebration had in the lives of Jews during their turbulent history, and their desire for freedom. Try to imagine the significance of the ceremony for Christ, aware that he was about to be betrayed and wanting to have a significant meal with his friends. The theme itself, ‘Freedom’ and the ‘Graciousness of God’, must have provided him with a certain reassurance in light of the fate awaiting him. It is good to note as well that just as Baptism was the first ritual in which he participated in before setting out on his public ministry, his final ritual was this supper, which he also desired to have re-enacted in His Memory. This was his gift to us; ‘nourishment for the soul’ and the creation of ‘fellowship’. Baptism and Eucharist are sometimes referred to as the two foundational sacraments within the Christian Tradition.

 

The Readings of the liturgy include therefore the account from Exodus when the first-born child of the Jewish family, was spared from the ravaging plague as a result of the family sprinkling the door of the dwelling with the Blood of the Lamb. Within the Christian tradition the reference to the Lamb of God reflecting of the sacrificial death of Christ, is rooted in this historical phenomenon. This final plague, finally broke the resolve of the Pharaoh to detain the exiles as slaves, and as is so graphically described in the Book of Exodus, their spectacular escape across the Red Sea ( the Reed Sea).

 

The response to Psalm 115 is:

The blessing cup that we bless

Is a communion with the blood of Christ

 

The 2nd Reading for the letter of Paul to the Corinthians, describes how Christ, during the Passover deviated slightly from the format of the Jewish ceremony:

After the celebratory meal, which happens half way through the Haggadah, there is a light-hearted game consisting of the children in the house searching for a piece of the Unleavened Bread hidden somewhere in the home before the ceremony.  The matza (unleavened bread) when it is eventually found, is handed over to the celebrant. The celebrant ritually breaks the bread and shares it with all present. ‘The night before Christ died’, he altered the script while sharing the bread; and so we hear the familiar words core to every Eucharist we celebrate:

When supper was ended,

Jesus took some bead,

thanked God for it and broke it, and he said:

This is my body, which is for you.

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In the same way he took the cup and said:

This cup is the new covenant in my blood.

Do this as a memorial of me

 

In the life of the early Church, the followers of Christ honoured his invitation to share in the bread, by meeting on the First Day of each the Week:

for the Breaking of Bread.

{The reference to the ‘First Day of the Week’ is significant because of the scriptural reference of Christ’s followers finding the tomb empty & mysteriously encountering the Risen Lord on the ‘Frist Day of the Week’}

 

The Gospel on Holy Thursday recounts the poignant ritual of Jesus,  washing the disciples feet. This simple act of its nature denotes Service.

If I then the Lord and Master, have washed your feet,

you should wash each other’s feet.

 

The remainder of the Holy Thursday Mass is as per usual, until after Communion. When the praying assembly have received the Eucharistic Bread, there is a special ceremony with the remaining hosts brought in procession to the Altar of Repose. The sacred breads will be used the following day, Good Friday, during the celebration of the Passion of the Lord, the only day of the year when Eucharist is not celebrated.

 

Reserving the breads in the Altar of Repose, leads us to ponder the events that night after Jesus and is followers met in the Upper Room.

With three companions, he walks, via the Kedron valley, across to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prays earnestly.  While contemplating his fate, Judas arrives with the soldiers to arrest the Lord. He is imprisonment in a cell overnight, and we can only imagine the thoughts surfacing in his mind, as Jesus awaits the horror of Good Friday.

 

After our Mass therefore, in ‘Teach na hEaglaise’, the House were the Local Christian Church meets to pray, we will  have an hour-long meditation entitled ‘Could you not spend one hour with me’. as we await the second day of the Triduum: Good Friday.

 

May the ‘fellowship’ so evident in our country in so many ways, remain strong during these challenging times.

Le Dhea Ghui

Fr Michael

 

 

{Go to the Parish web homepage

and click the Church web-camera to view the altar of repose.}

 

 

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