In last week’s column we took a look at Palm Sunday and a portion of Holy Thursday that included the presentation of the Holy Oils. So let’s get back to “Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper,” the official liturgical title. This Mass begins the “Triduum,” one long feast that includes: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil – the ultimate high point! The feast ends at sundown on Easter Sunday.
The Mass on Holy Thursday is a celebration of the sacerdotal priesthood; this is like the birthing of the priesthood celebrating the “institution of the Eucharist” referring to the actions and words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Before Jesus gifted us with the Eucharist, he knelt before each of his Apostles, becoming as a servant to them and washed their feet. This is called: The Mandatum or
Foot Washing– This is a liturgical rite used only on Holy Thursday. The priest, who stands in persona of Jesus Christ, washes the feet of the people he serves in his parish. This ritual often includes poetic song with the words: “Do you know what I have done for you?” It is as if Jesus, himself is speaking to us. He gave his own life to save ours! Anyone who wishes may be part of this ritual. If you or someone in your family would like to have their feet washed this Holy Thursday, please call Geri Blais at the Parish Office. This is truly a humbling experience. Parents, please consider doing this as a family. What a beautiful way to continue to form your children in the faith!
Altar of Repose – In this ritual at the Holy Thursday Mass, the Blessed Sacrament (the remaining hosts that were consecrated at Mass) is not returned to the tabernacle (the gold cabinet that sits to the right of the altar). It remains on the altar and then in a solemn procession is taken to an “altar of repose” where it is reserved for Communion on Good Friday. As the priest prepares for the procession he puts on what is called a “humeral veil” (a garment, usually gold in color worn around the shoulders and extending down the arms with pockets for the priest’s hands to slip into) as a sign of reverence to the Blessed Sacrament that he will carry. The altar of repose here at St. Francis Xavier is in the music room, on the west side of the Gathering Place. All are invited to spend time in Adoration before that altar beginning immediately after Mass until 10:00 pm when it will be locked for the night.
After reserving the Blessed Sacrament, the priest and servers return to the church for: Stripping of the Altar - This is the final act at the Holy Thursday Mass. All removable items are taken from the sanctuary (the area where the altar is), including the processional cross. The tabernacle is left open as a sign of the absence of the Body of Christ. Mass will not be celebrated again until the Easter Vigil. Even though Holy Thursday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, please make every effort to attend. The ritual, the music and the gift of the Eucharist presented in this once-a-year celebration has the power to transform us drawing us ever closer to Jesus Christ!
Blessings & Prayers,
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC