Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin & English
By way of explanation: In tonight’s
Mass of the Last Supper, we will consecrate two large hosts, one to be
received in Holy Communion, the second to be taken in procession to the
Altar of Repose at the end of this Mass for the priest’s Communion of Good
Friday. The Church has us do this so that in the Good Friday Liturgy of the
Pre-sanctified—not properly a Mass—so that we can demonstrate the connection
of the Last Supper of Holy Thursday with the Sacrifice of the Cross on Good
Friday. On some level, Good Friday is the completion of the Eucharistic
Sacrifice of Holy Thursday.
We don’t have enough people to
organize over-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, so I am going to ask
you to stay long enough to recite five decades of the Rosary at the Altar of
Repose before you go home. And, if possible, to be here early enough
tomorrow evening to recite another five decades before the Liturgy begins.
And, as I mentioned on Palm Sunday,
one should see all the events of Holy Week and Easter as a continuum. The
Last Supper on Thursday is the origin of the priesthood, the Blessed
Sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Crucifixion on Friday is the bloody Sacrifice of our Lord, which is made
present across time and place in an unbloody manner every time Holy Mass is
offered. And Easter celebrates our Lord’s Resurrection—His triumph over the
death of the Cross, specifically, and His triumph over sin and death more
Together with the Incarnation—God
taking human flesh and form in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary—these
events represent the major steps in the redemption of fallen mankind. We
are called upon to rejoice in the possibility of salvation, and the
possibility of one day encountering God face to face, as He intended in our
It has to have been about forty
years ago that I began to read the scriptures in earnest, as I prepared to
study for the priesthood. One of the things that I found is that the
accounts of the establishment of the Blessed Sacrament are not all
where one might expect to find them. They are in Matthew, Mark, and Luke,
of course. One expects next to hear “John,” so it is a little surprising to
hear instead “First Corinthians.” Why not “John”?
Well, for one thing, Saint John
wrote his Gospel considerably later than the other Evangelists. Matthew,
Mark, and Luke all wrote sometime before 70 AD—Matthew,
perhaps, as early as 42 AD—but John wrote his sometime just before 100 AD.
Chronologically, it may be the last book of the Bible rather than the
Apocalypse, written around 96 AD. So by the time of his writing,
Christianity had some time to spread, and all Christians were familiar with
the Holy Eucharist. They had only to attend Mass to personally witness the
reenactment of the Last Supper by a priest who functioned in the person of
What those early Christians did not
have was a detailed description of the interaction of our Lord with His
Apostles during this first Holy Sacrifice. We have this in chapters 13
through 17 of John’s Gospel, written by the man whom Jesus Christ considered
to be His closest personal friend—the friend to whom He entrusted the care
of His holy Mother. John had already written about our Lord giving us His
body and blood in his sixth chapter, and here he would write about the more
human aspects of our Lord’s last night on earth.
The account is one of humility. The
Master washes the feet of the disciples. The disciples will be identified
with the Master only if they love one another.
Our Lord would go to the Father, but the disciples would not be abandoned.
They were to keep the Commandments for the Love of Jesus, and Jesus would
send the Holy Ghost to be their advocate. They would have a heavenly peace.
Unity with Christ was essential, no matter how much the world hated Him; no
matter how much it hated the Apostles for being like Him.
They could, indeed, expect persecution, but the Holy Ghost would support
them, and ultimately they would enter the Kingdom of the Father.
John records that the Supper closed with our Lord’s prayer for unity among
His disciples—they would be sanctified in truth, for the word of God is
And then they would go out to the
garden, and our Lord would be given over to the Jews and the Romans, and the
Eucharistic Sacrifice of that evening would be completed within less than
twenty-four hours on the wood of the Cross.
Please understand the Saint John
wrote these words for us. The other Apostles were all dead when he wrote—it
wasn’t to remind them of what had happened nearly seventy years before—it is
a message for those who would follow. It is we who are celled to be humble
and to love one another. It is we who must keep the Commandments in
anticipation of the Holy Ghost. It is we who will be persecuted for being
like our Master, and not like those of the world—and that persecution will
confirm that we have dome what He asked of us. It is we who must be
sanctified in the truth of God’s word, through unity with Jesus Christ.
And tonight we celebrate the
Sacrament of that unity—the true body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus
Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. What greater unity can
there be than to possess and to be possessed by the Son of God. Saint John
recorded our Lord’s words much earlier in his Gospel: “He that eateth my
flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.”