Holy Thursday

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

April 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 116 which Walter Bruggemann calls an example of “the performance of thanks”. 

How shall I make a return to the LORD
    for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
    and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116: 12-13

There is a tone of solemn ritual woven through the psalm, just as there is throughout the Holy Thursday liturgies.

The time of waiting and wondering is over. Jesus chooses the Passover meal to formalize his understanding that the time has come to offer his life in an ultimate sacrifice of praise.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

John 13:1

The Last Supper by the nun Plautilla Nelli (1524–1588) of Florence
Inscribed: Suor Plautilla · Orate Pro Pictora (Pray for the Paintress)

It is likely that, during his Last Supper, Jesus would have prayed, and possibly sung, Psalm 116 as part of the ancient Hallel,  six thanksgiving prayers included in the Passover rites. 

On our behalf, Jesus is about to enflesh in his own life the redemptive promise awaited through the ages. He is about to enact the Great Deliverance — far greater than that achieved in the Passover. By the power of his Paschal sacrifice, we are redeemed from death itself:

Return, my soul, to your rest;
the LORD has been very good to you.
For my soul has been freed from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD
in the land of the living

Psalm 116: 7-9

For me, Holy Thursday is the most solemnly beautiful and meaningful day of the Liturgical Year. There is so much to be found in the readings, especially as we peel back single phrases to hear their living power and love. There is so much to be learned at the side of Jesus as we pray with Him.

May we place ourselves beside Jesus at the holy table of his life. Feel him lay the gathering tensions down as he gathers his beloveds in the truth of this moment. It is time for him to give everything over in love. This is the moment of Holy Acquiescence, this is the moment of Eucharist.

With Jesus, let us pray for the loosening of any bonds which prevent us from giving our lives lovingly into God’s Will for us, from allowing Eucharist to be offered through our lives.

Dear to the eyes of the LORD
    is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the child of your handmaid;
    you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
    in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116: 15-18

Prose: from Mass on the World, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Since once again Lord 
I have neither bread nor wine nor altar,
I will raise myself beyond these symbols 
up to the pure majesty of the real itself.
 
I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar, 
and on it I will offer you 
all the labors and the sufferings of the world.
 
I will place on my paten Lord God 
all the harvest to be won from your renewal. 

Into my chalice, I shall pour all the sap 
which is to be pressed out this day 
from the earth’s fruits and from its sufferings.
 
All the things in the world 
to which this day will bring increase; 
all those that will diminish; 
all those, too, that will die: 
all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms 
so as to hold them out to you in offering.
 
This is the material of my sacrifice, 
the only material you desire.
The restless multitude, confused or orderly, 
the immensity of which terrifies us, 
this ocean of humanity, 
the slow, monotonous wave-flows which trouble the hearts 
of even those whose faith is most firm.
 
My paten and my chalice are 
the depths of a soul laid widely open 
to all the forces which in a moment will rise up 
from every corner of the earth 
and converge upon the Spirit. 

Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence 
of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.
Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing Host
which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, 
offers you at this dawn of a new day.
 
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Music: Sanctus – Jessie Norman

(Get someplace where you can turn the sound up for this and let it blow you away. There are some exquisite soft notes, beginning and end, that you don’t want to miss. Wait for them.)

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday, April 18, 2019

Click here for readings.

 Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, infinitely profound in meaning and effect.

John13_12

 The scripture passages for this evening’s liturgy are filled with symbols to help us pray with this profundity:

  • the Lamb
  • its exonerating blood on the lintel
  • the blessing-cup of Psalm 116
  • the bread
  • the wine
  • the towel, basin and water

 There is an action connected to each of these symbols which actualizes its meaning:

  •  sacrifice – the Lamb
  • sign– its exonerating blood on the lintel
  • lifting– the blessing-cup of Psalm 116
  • breaking – the bread
  • pouring– the wine
  • washing – the towel, basin and water

 With his final command in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us how important action is for those who want to follow him:

 I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you,
you should also do.

 As we look at our own lives on this Holy Thursday, what symbol and action speak to our hearts?

  • Is there a sacrifice we are called to make for the sake of goodness in the world?
  • Are there signs of our faith that we need to make evident?
  • Do we lift up our praise to God in all aspects of our life?
  • What needs to be broken and poured for Christ to be fully alive in us?
  • How are we called to be servant like Him?

 On Holy Thursday, Jesus makes it clear that sacrament and service are inextricably tied to each other. As his followers, it is not enough to venerate the symbols. They must be memorialized in our loving actions for one another.

 Dear Friends, on this beautiful feast of Christic Love,
let us pray wholeheartedly for one another.
I promise you that in a special way today.

 Music: two offerings today

 Pange Lingua- traditional Holy Thursday hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas 

 Song for Holy Thursday – English rendering of the Pange Lingua