Friday, April 22, 2011

do this in remembrance

I had never attended a Holy Thursday Mass until about five years ago.  Also known as the Mass of the Lord's Supper, it is, hands down, my favorite liturgy of the year.  The Chrism Mass celebrated the priesthood - instituted on this day.  This Mass celebrates the institution of the Eucharist.

Our pastor thanked us for attending, and said he didn't understand why crowds are so slim for Holy Thursday.  I can give him a few reasons.  One, it's a work day for most people.  To come home, and switch gears to "Mass Mode" is just difficult.  Can't do much about that.  Secondly, people just don't know.  Ignorance, you can do something about.  I came for the first time because the church secretary sent me an email and invited me to come.

My first year was a disaster learning experience.  My boys were about 9 and 10, so I brought them with me.  At that time our parish shared a pastor with another, and since he couldn't be two places at once, Holy Thursday was at his other parish.  As Mass got underway, I hear, "Mom, something's burning."  Um.. that would be the incense.  Feet were washed, but that sparked the need for someone to utilize the bathroom.  So we missed most of that.  Then there was the procession at the end.  Who knew??  "Mom, I'm hungry....."  So much for Adoration.

The next year, I knew better.  I have gone alone since then.

This Mass is happens once a year.  The last few years have been a challenge for the Altar Servers.  Some of the things they do have a bit of a different timing.  One year, the altar was set, then cleared off, then set again.  Last night, it was not set when it was time for Father to do his thing.  He had to help, but he just takes things in stride.

The story of the Passover is read, then a reading from 1Corinthians that reiterates the command to "do this in remembrance of me".  Finally the Gospel is the story of the Last Supper.    From emptying of self comes true holiness.  At least that's what the homily said.  The oils from the Chrism Mass are presented with the Gifts and placed in the ambry.

This Mass doesn't end.  There is no dismissal.  No hymn at the conclusion.  After Holy Communion, everyone is asked to kneel.  Father mentions that at the conclusion of the Last Supper, Jesus and the Apostles took a walk...from the Upper Room to the Garden.  Then he slowly processes with the ciborium containing the Body of Christ around the church (a walk).  This is powerful...the first time it happened, I was caught off-guard.  One of those happens-in-your-heart things that is hard to explain.  (In some parishes, the Eucharist is processed to another location...a chapel, perhaps.)

At our parish, at the conclusion of the procession, the Eucharist was placed in the Tabernacle (which had been empty and open until that point), and then Father and the altar servers knelt in front in Adoration.  This is the only time of the year, when we see our priest kneeling.  After a few minutes, Father and the altar servers retreat into the sacristy and people start to leave (quietly).

The church was open until 9 PM.  It was about an hour and a half of adoration time.  (Last year it was about an hour.)  I stayed.  It took me a little while to get focused, but finally, I remembered what Immaculee had said about spending time with Our Lord and His Mother this week.  I realized that maybe it wasn't all about  me tonight.  It was just about spending time...being there.  I had left my 7 Sorrows Rosary in the car, but that is what I ended up praying.  Thanking them for their suffering.  About an hour and 15 minutes in, I was restless, and ready to go.  My back was hurting from sitting in the oh-so-comfortable pews.  But I figured if I had stayed that long, I might as well stay until the end.  There is something about seeing Jesus taken from the Tabernacle and the emptiness that remains.  You can imagine what the apostles felt...those that didn't run away.  That, and I didn't want to walk out to my car alone...there were just a handful of us left.

If you ever have the next year...make the effort to switch into Mass Mode on Holy Thursday.  So worth it.

And I'll leave you with a song....

1 comment:

  1. Holy Thursday mass is sooo very worth it...even if it is a bit long. Our priest appeared to be crying after he washed the feet; it looked to me that he wiped his eyes, but CH said he thought he was sweating and wiping the sweat off of his face. I'm going with what I saw. Very humbling and emotional.
    I didn't even make the connection of the walk; the priest took the Monstrance to the Adoration Chapel, where there was Adoration until 12:00 midnight. Powerful Mass.