Holy Thursday—9 April AD 2009
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin & English
Please note that at the end of Mass
today, the Blessed Sacrament will be taken in procession to the Altar of Repose,
where It will remain until the Good Friday Liturgy of the Presanctified.
Please remain for a few minutes in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament before
leaving for home—perhaps for the length of a Rosary. Be aware that only
the priest will receive Holy Communion during the Good Friday Liturgy.
Those of you who were at Mass on Sunday
know that the Palm Sunday Gospel presented the events of Holy Thursday and Good
Friday: In the context of the Passover meal, our Lord took Bread and Wine,
and gave them to His apostles, indicating that these had been changed into His
Body and Blood, as He had promised during the Passover of the previous year
(John vi). “This is my Body, which shall be given up for you. . . .
This is My Blood, which shall be poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of
many.” “Do this in memory of Me.” He then went out, gave His
Body over to those who sought His life, and within less than twenty-four hours,
had poured out His Blood as He predicted.
This evening's Mass then celebrates the
anniversary of the first Mass, the establishment of the Most Blessed Sacrament
of the Altar, and the delegation of our Lord's priesthood to the Apostles and
those who would follow them. It is celebrated in white vestments, because
even in the midst of our Lenten mourning, these are joyful events.
It is important to note that these
events focus on our relationship with God, and then only secondarily on our
relationships with each other.
Tonight we receive the Body and Blood of
Christ, which, if we didn't eat and drink them, “we would not have life in
us.” And that life is, of course the eternal life of the souls in heaven
Tonight, we celebrate a God who loves
us—and Who, like all lovers, wants to be physically close to His beloved.
And Who, for this reason, instituted His priesthood, so that He could entertain
those who love Him at His Supper, without regard to time or limitation of place.
Who, for this same reason, gave us His very own Body, to take within ourselves,
in the ultimate closeness—an intimacy which makes all merely human love pale
Tonight, we ponder the God who loves us
enough to become one of us—we might say, to become a part of us. The God
who took on human flesh and form in His Incarnation. The God Who literally
becomes a part of us, as our bodies assimilate His substance in Holy
Communion—as His Body becomes our body; as His Blood becomes our blood.
So, without equivocation, we can say
that tonight is a feast which celebrates to love of our God for His
people—and, hopefully, of His people for Him.
It would be heretical to do as the
Modernists do, and downplay this love of man and God, in order to emphasize good
will among men. Indeed, that is the major error of the New Mass and the
new religion which it represents. But, we know that most heresy contains
more truth than error—otherwise it wouldn't be attractive to people; it
wouldn't make any sense at all.
Consequently, after we recognize this as
a feast of God's love, we should also recognize it as something which calls for
love of neighbor. After all, if God can love our neighbor, we ought to be
able to see some good in him. If we come together and share the same
banquet with our divine lover, we ought to be on congenial terms with one
another. If we receive the same Holy Communion, and take on the substance
of the same Lord, we should recognize that we are becoming more and more
alike—that, in spite of superficial differences, we are becoming one with each
other in the same God.
This is the first day of what we call
the “Sacred Triduum” —Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. It is
primarily a day of joy, although mingled with the sadness of the impending
events of Good Friday.
Today we receive God's love in
celebration; tomorrow in sadness and regret; and again on Easter in triumph.
Today we love our neighbor because our Lover loves him; tomorrow we may have to
love him in spite of what he has done to our Beloved; as we look forward to
being made over with him in the conquering of sin and death by our Beloved in
the Paschal mysteries.
These are all variations on a theme—a
theme which pervades the universe—we can only love our neighbor; indeed we can
only love ourselves; as far as we love Almighty God. And that love is most
perfectly expressed by Almighty God in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,
which we celebrate today.