Tag Archives: Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday: The Lace Tablecloth

March 30, 2018

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Holy Thursday: The Lace Tablecloth

I went to Holy Thursday Mass last night. I almost didn’t go.  Things have changed from 5 years ago when I wrote the post below.   I have lost some people in my life and I thought it might be too sad.  I went and sat with a friend who I unexpectedly saw there. It was fine. It actually ran through my head that…”this is fine… nothing special, but fine.”

Then when the came out to “dress” the altar I noticed that the linen was a tablecloth that once belonged to Mary Varley. Mary was an older woman from my parish that showed me such great faith.  I used to do all of the “decorating’ at the church and she would dutifully bring this tablecloth to the parish every Holy Thursday and she (only she) would then wash it and iron it. She lovingly shared her time and reverently shared this bit of herself with the church. She taught me many things through these actions. She passed away quite a few years ago now.

I met her for tea one time and asked her about her prayer life.  She told me to talk to Jesus like a friend, like you would talk to someone over a cup of tea.

When I saw the table cloth, I started to cry a little.  I realised that she was there. I realized that all of the people I loved and missed were right there at the Mass with me.  Some of the people that I was missing had moved away but I knew they were celebrating this same Mass but in their new parishes. Some of the people I was missing have died.

That lace tablecloth reminded me that…
All the people I love are with me in the Mass.

Every year the Triduum is the same but it is always different because we are different.
Last night I learned that “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love. It signifies love. It produces love.” (A quote from Thomas Aquinas)

Below is a post from 5 years ago but I think I will repost the Triduum series I wrote five years ago again this year with new insights from today.

Reflections on the Triduum – Holy Thursday
/http://catholichotdish.com/general/reflections-on-the-triduum-holy-thursday/

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Thursday of the Lord’s Supper – Eucharist and Humble Service

March 23, 2018

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Last SupperThe Last Supper took place on the first Holy Thursday. It was that night that Jesus instituted the Eucharist, but curiously, the gospel for the Mass on Holy Thursday is not the Institution Narrative, it is the footwashing.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, No. 11). It is foremost among the other sacraments because it is received most often, unites a person to Jesus who is truly present, affords a special opportunity for a close personal conversation with Jesus, is spiritual sustenance and a fountain of grace for a lifetime, places a person in communion with the other members of the Body of Christ, forgives venial sins, and provides the companionship of Jesus on the journey through human life and the final journey to heaven and eternal life.

Important as the Eucharist is, it is not the gospel on Holy Thursday, it is the second reading (1 Cor 11:23-26). It is one of the four accounts of the Institution of the Eucharist in the New Testament (Mt 26:26-30; Mk 14:22-26; Lk 22:14-20). Why is an Institution Narrative not used for the gospel on Holy Thursday? And why take a passage from the Gospel of John, the only evangelist whose gospel does not have the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper?

Holy Thursday Foot Washing

It is not because John believes that the Eucharist is unimportant. He is the only evangelist to write a Bread of Life Discourse (Jn 6:22-71), an extended reflection on the importance of the Eucharist. John alone calls Jesus the bread of life, says that the Eucharist bread from heaven, and explains that his flesh is true food and his blood true drink, that Jesus will dwell within whoever receives the Eucharist, and that it leads to eternal life.

The footwashing is the gospel on Holy Thursday, and John is the only evangelist to report it. It took place at the Last Supper before the institution of the Eucharist and for John, the footwashing and the Eucharist are closely related. The footwashing prefigures the crucifixion. Jesus humbly gave of himself when he washed his disciples’ feet, and he humbly gave of himself when he gave his life on the Cross; and this parallels the Eucharist in which Jesus gave his body and blood under the form of bread and wine, and then gave his body and blood on the Cross.

Eucharist is about True Presence. Jesus is present under the forms of bread and wine, and with the footwashing, John is conveying another perspective on True Presence. Jesus is present in the form of humble service. Jesus was present to his disciples when he took off his outer garments and knelt down at their feet, a touching demonstration of humility, and then washed and dried their feet, a tender expression of love in menial service. When a disciple offers humble service to anyone, particularly in lowly ordinary tasks, and does so out of love, Jesus is made present.

And the Eucharist is ordered to service. Once a person receives the Eucharist at Mass and leaves the church, the person has been energized to serve others in the name of Jesus. The communicant humbly and cheerfully gives humble service, particularly in the little things, giving freely, without seeking repayment or notice. Service drains energy, and once depleted, the communicant needs to go to Mass to receive Holy Communion again to be reenergized for the next round of service. The Eucharist leads to service, and service leads to the Eucharist.

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Coming Home – a Holy Thursday Reflection

April 2, 2015

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Church

Photo ~ Justin Stroh

Coming Home

When I was in college I would take weekend trips home about every other month.  These trips included the usual dirty laundry to be washed and a chance for some good food and time with my parents and sisters. As great as these things were, their was always something more that I experienced when I would walk through those doors.  It was this overwhelming feeling of coming home.

Despite the strain of school or the drama of my peers or the nagging uncertainty of what the future held, when I walked through those doors I knew I had nothing more important to do than just be.

Maybe it was a feeling of unconditional love. Maybe it was the feeling that someone else was in charge and I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it was the feeling of being loved for who I am and not what I could achieve on my report card or on the sports field. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly that feeling was, but you know it when you feel it.

Twelve years ago I attended my first Holy Thursday Mass.  I had recently come back to my faith, or I should say discovered it for the first time.  It might be surprising that a cradle Catholic had never attended a Holy Thursday Mass, but I am sure I am not the only one who has missed this beautiful liturgy. After being hit by the Holy Spirit and hungry to learn more about this new found love, the church, my pastor encouraged me to attend the entire Triduum.

I was overcome by the Mass.  I can’t recall any one specific detail except that it felt like coming home.  It felt like being away at college and making that trip back home. Everything just seemed to fit.

As I left the Mass I spoke with the pastor about this feeling of coming back home. I can only wonder if he thought I was a crazy woman – comparing this liturgy to a weekend trip home from college but he seemed excited at my interest.  He eagerly shared with me an Encyclical I should read and said “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

The church is our home- the church belongs to all of us.  It is a place where we are loved unconditionally. It is a place where we can rely on God to be in charge.  It is a place where we can grow and be loved for who you are. It is our home.  It leads us to our eternal home and it is the closest we can get on this side of the veil.

If you haven’t been home for a while – Come home!

Holy Thursday is also a time where we celebrate the institution of the priesthood.   I always reflect on the priests who have helped me on my journey on this day.  After all, without them I may never had found my way home.

Today, say a prayer for the priests in your life that have been instrumental in your faith journey home.

 

Sharon also writes for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization. Find her at WINE:Women in The New Evangelization

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Reflections on the Triduum ~ Holy Thursday

March 29, 2013

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Licensed under Creative Commons

Licensed under Creative Commons

I love the Triduum! It was 10 years ago that I attended my first Holy Thursday Mass.  It was shortly after my “re-conversion” to the faith and I was blown away.

As I watched with wonder at  the beauty of the Mass and tried to understand the depth of the liturgy, I left the church that night in a bit of a stupor. As I stumbled out of the church past the priest, I walked up to him and said “It is like coming home.  It is like being away at college for a long time and then you come back home. It feels like that!” I don’t know if anyone else can understand that sentimentality, but its impact has never left me.

Each year I enter into this sacred week with certain expectations.  What I expect never seems to be what I get, but if I approach it with my eyes and heart open I most certainly hear God’s voice.
This year my personal, family life is in a bit of a disarray.  With two children at college and their needs and schedules changing- regular family traditions are a bit off.  Easter baskets have changed from candy and bunny rabbits to gas cards and cash.  To top it all off – we are remodeling our kitchen so we have no stove, sink or refrigerator. We will not be making Easter eggs, traditional ham dinner or even a pizza!

Trying to enter into a prayerful mood – I left my home an hour early to attend the Holy Thursday Mass. The sounds of saws, screw guns and hammers were interrupting my already distracted mind. I was looking for a little peace!

As I walked into the church – the first thing I noticed was the empty tabernacle.  It immediately brought to mind the thought that Jesus was not “in the house.” Their is something sad about an empty tabernacle.

As I sat in a corner to collect my thoughts and pray when I looked up at the hustle and bustle going on around me.  From a distance I noticed the choir rehearsing – a unified choir with our Latino and English speaking community.  I noticed a young man from our Catholic high school walking the other servers through server training.  I saw the sacristan putting out candles, readers looking over their readings, volunteers arranging flowers and ushers setting out worship aids.  All this action could have put me on edge since I came to the church to get away from the bustle of my home, but then I realized something.

Jesus WAS “in the house!”

Everyone there – a community – had come together to make this happen.  They were joyfully doing their part to bring others to God through the liturgy.

Of course the Holy Thursday Liturgy speaks of service.  Service to each other.  Service to those in need.  The Holy Thursday Liturgy also speaks of the Eucharist – the body of Christ.  And He was present there  in the people and at the great offering of the Sacrament.

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What is the Sacred Paschal Triduum?

March 29, 2012

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The Sacred Paschal Triduum is the three most solemn days of the liturgical year; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.  These most holy days celebrate the Paschal Mystery, first, the passion, suffering, and death of the Lord Jesus, followed by his resurrection, the triumph of the holy cross, and Christ’s decisive victory over sin and death.

The Triduum is a single feast, the Paschal Mystery, celebrated over three days, and they are the three holiest days of the entire liturgical year.  It is ironic, however, that feasts like the Assumption on August 15, All Saints Day on November 1, and the Immaculate Conception on December 8, are holy days of obligation while the three days of the Triduum are not.  There is no Church law that requires attendance for the Triduum, but good laws only make compulsory what should be done anyway.

For example, God gave the Third Commandment, “Keep holy the Sabbath day” (Ex 20:8), which serves as the basis for the Sunday Mass obligation.  We should want to go to Mass every Sunday.  It is only right to give thanks for the many blessings that we receive over the course of the week, and if we do not nourish our faith regularly, minimally at least once a week, with God’s holy Word and Holy Communion, it is likely that we will become spiritually malnourished and weaker in our faith.  If there was no law, a devout disciple of Jesus would want to go to Mass every Sunday anyway because it is the right thing to do, but because so many are lax with their faith and fail to do what should be presumed, a law was established to make mandatory what Christians should eagerly and gladly do on their own.

If there were ever three days that Christians should want to go to church to pray, it would be the Triduum.  These days rank at the head of the liturgical calendar.  They celebrate the most sacred mysteries of our faith, and they ought to be celebrated with the community at liturgy.  The Jews have three high holy days, three pilgrimage feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Booths, and those who lived outside of Jerusalem made pilgrimage to the Temple to celebrate these solemn occasions.  The three days of the Triduum are our “high holy days,” our “pilgrimage feast,” and we ought to make pilgrimage from our homes to church to commemorate and honor how the Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends, for our salvation.

Please make it a top priority to go to church to celebrate the Triduum this year.  Reserve the time.  Rearrange your schedule if necessary.  Take some personal time off from work.  Suspend errands or jobs around the house.  Drop everything.  Plan to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.  These days may be optional, but none are more important.  Enter into the mystery.

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