Thursday, April 1, 2010

holy thursday

Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri I esu Christi, in quo est salus, vita et resurrectio nostra per quem salvati et liberati sumus.
We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through Him we are saved and made free. Galations 6:14

Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil.  It celebrates both the institution by Christ Himself of the Eucharist and the institution of the priesthood, for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover. He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice by Christ's authority and command in exactly the same way.  The Last Supper was also Christ's farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again.

Special mass is held in cathedrals celebrated by the bishop in solemn observance of Christ's institution of priesthoold at the Last Supper.  At this Chrism, the bishop blesses the oil of christening, used for baptism, confirmation and anointing of the sick and dying.  The bishop washes the feet of 12 priest to symbolize Christ's washing the feet of his Apostles, the first priests.  The evening Holy Thursday Liturgy marks the end of Lent and represents service and charity of Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve by the sacred Triduum (3 days) of Holy Week.  The Mass begins in the evening because Passover began at sundown; it commemorates Our Lord's institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.  It also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Madatum, washing, commemorating Jesus' washing the feet of His apostles, as well as in the priest's stripping and washing of the altar.  Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday. The Adoration of  the Blessed Sacrament by people during the night is just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives. The action of the Church on this night witnesses to the Church's esteem for Christ's Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain "entombed" until the communion service on Good Friday.  No Mass will be celebrated again in Church until Easter Vigil proclaims resurrection. 

I don't often attend this long service, but typically wait until it is over and bring my rosary to my church and offer a decade to each of the stations of the cross, then witness and pray at the exposed host.  This is my quiet time to reflect on what the true season of Lent is about and how I have improved.  Today, close your eyes and imagine yourself being washed by Jesus, and all our sins and failures are cleansed, then vanished.  Offer small acts of service to others today, things you wouldn't ordinarily think of doing for family and friends.

Prayer:  On this day, Jesus, you taught your followers that they should serve others as you served them.  May I be one who serves others in your name, especially today on this feast of love and service.  May I live, O Jesus, as you want me to, and may I follow your way of service in all that I say and do.  Amen.

                        Service to humanity is true spirituality. xo