In Cœna Dómini
Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.
– John 13:1, from the Gospel for Holy Thursday
Today is Holy Thursday. This evening marks the beginning of the holiest time of the year, the Sacred Triduum, in which we commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On this day we especially recall the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Priesthood, when Our Lord celebrated the first Mass and gave His Apostles and their successors the power to transform ordinary bread and wine into His own Body and Blood.
After the Gloria of today’s Mass, the bells and organ fall silent until the Easter Vigil, as the Church enters into a time of profound sorrow for the sufferings of her Divine Spouse. As Our Lord allowed Himself to be taken away on the first Holy Thursday, so does He gradually withdraw from us today: the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the high altar after Mass and taken in procession to the Altar of Repose, and the other altars stripped of all decoration.
Though many of us will be without the Holy Eucharist today, and have indeed been suffering separation from Our Lord for some time now, the restrictions of the coronavirus have given us an opportunity to reflect on just what a gift the Blessed Sacrament is. When we have daily access to Holy Mass, it is easy to take for granted Who it is that comes to us every time we kneel at the altar rail. What an extraordinary, incomprehensible thing that He should choose to remain with us in such a lowly form, to entrust Himself to our sinful hearts that we might partake of His Divine Life! As St. John Vianney once said, “If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”
So let us thank Our Lord today for the profound gift of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, and the Holy Priesthood through which He comes to our altars. May our love for Our Eucharistic Lord grow ever stronger and deeper as we venerate Him from afar and steadfastly await His return. +
April 9, 2020