Tonight starts the most moving of Liturgical seasons of the church. The Triduum. I grew up with very little understanding of the liturgy, and how it all comes together - but, now I can't imagine an Easter without Holy Thursday - Good Friday - and the Easter Vigil. There are times that even my family refer to me as the "churchy" one - and yes, I come by that name honestly, but I want to share where though God's mercy, wisdom, and grace this is for everyone. Not just your "churchy" relatives, or acquaintances.
Tonight's liturgy, Holy Thursday! I absolutely love everything about this Mass. "Mass of The Lord's Supper", I've also heard the name Institution of the Holy Eucharist. A great video for anyone to watch about the Eucharist is "The Fourth Cup" by Scott Hahn. Tonight we will experience Jesus' Passover supper where he offered the Eucharist for the first time, "Do this in remembrance of me..." After the readings, or Liturgy of the Word, and Homily, or teaching, we will be eye witnesses to the Priesthood's call to service. The true priesthood that so many of us do not see.
At this point, the priest takes off his Chasuble, or outer garment that he wears, and ties I think an apron or towel around his waist. Then gets down on his knees and one by one washes the feet of 12 people in the church. (I pause here to recognize that there are many varying ways this is celebrated). We presently have only men represented as the 12 apostles; but a few years back I had the humbling experience of being one of the 12. I can't express how humbling this experience is. Not humbling in any way that you might think. Like washing my feet a dozen times before getting to church - humbling because - this man, chosen by God to bring Himself to us in the Eucharist, with anointed hands, is pouring water over my feet, and drying them. I couldn't help but think of Christ at that moment, and how much he loves each and every person. And, this love that he shares that starts in our community by our priest, must be shared by each and every person with each other.
In today's Magnificat the is a message by Pope Benedict XVI:
"When the Lord of the world comes and undertakes the slave's task of foot-washing - which is an illustration of the way he washes our feet all through our lives - we have a totally different picture. God doesn't want to trample on us, but kneels down before us so as to exalt us. The mystery of the greatness of God is seen precisely in the fact that he can be small... Only when power is changed from the inside, and we accept Jesus and his way of life, whose whole self is there in the action of foot-washing, only then can the world be healed and the people be able to live at peace with one another."
Mass continues after this with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After communion, there is a brief period of silence before the Transfer of the Holy Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament is processed through the church, and taken to a place of reposition. In our case with limited space, a tabernacle waits in another room that has been turned into a garden scene. Pange Lingua is sung as we all process into the garden, until the Blessed Sacrament is brought to the tabernacle reposition, when we sing Tantum Ergo. It is beautiful.
We then have the opportunity to stay in the garden and pray,
"When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test." After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." Luke 22:40-42, ...
When praying often I might meditate on the sorrowful mysteries, and think of this dear man, my God, crying with so much fervor and anxiety that he sweat drops of blood. How can I not pray at that moment, thankful and humble for our Savior's love for us.
Now, I offer you this thought, there is nothing wacky or extra "churchy" about understanding more about our Priesthood, the Eucharist, and the love and passion of our Lord right? Yes, it might take a bit more than an hour - but again, I cannot imagine an Easter without it!
Praise God for our Savior!
Praise God for the Priesthood!