Holy Thursday. Last Supper, Washing Of Feet 2013

Scripture Readings For Chrism Mass are here
 Scripture readings for the Evening Mass of The Lord's Supper is here.
The gospel reading here focuses on the washing of the feet but the other evangelists focus on the institution of the Eucharist at this last meal of Jesus with his disciples so my post reflects that.

Click here for my post from 2012

and this extract below from Fr. Ron Rolheiser is from my 2010 post.

"The Eucharist is a prayer of helplessness, a prayer for God to give us a unity we cannot give to ourselves.

It is not incidental that Jesus instituted it in the hour of his most intense loneliness, when he realized that all the words he had spoken hadn't been enough and that he had no more words to give.

When he felt most helpless, he gave us the prayer of helplessness, the Eucharist. Our generation, like every generation before it, senses its helplessness and intuits its need for a messiah from beyond.

  We cannot heal ourselves and we cannot find the key to overcome our wounds and divisions all on our own.

  So we must turn our helplessness into a Eucharistic prayer, that asks God to come and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, namely, create community, and we must go to the Eucharist for this same reason."

(Extract from Ronald Rolheiser : Column Archive: the Healing Embrace of The Eucharist.)

Click here for a fine reflection here on Francis of Assisi and The Eucharist from Friar Musings Website

The Eucharist And The Incarnation In The Franciscan Tradition.

Reflection on The Feast of Corpus Christi 2011

St Louis Centre for Liturgy has reflections for the whole Triduum here.

I like what Richard Rohr OFM has to say on The Eucharist, although I do feel different about standing to receive the Eucharist in Holy Week, especially on Good Friday.
“When we start making the Eucharistic meal something to define membership instead of to proclaim grace and gift, we always get in trouble; that’s been the temptation of every denomination that has the Eucharist.
Too often we use Eucharist to separate who’s in from who’s out, who’s worthy from who’s unworthy, instead of to declare that all of us are radically unworthy, and that worthiness is not even the issue. If worthiness is the issue, who can stand before God?
Are those who receive actually saying they are “worthy”? I hope not. It is an ego statement to begin with.
The issue is not worthiness; the issue is trust and surrender or, as Thérèse of Lisieux said, “It all comes down to confidence and gratitude.”
I think that explains the joyous character with which we so often celebrate the Eucharist. We are pulled into immense gratitude and joy for such constant and unearned grace. It doesn’t get any better than this!
All we can do at Eucharist is kneel in gratitude and then stand in confidence. (Actually, St. Augustine said that the proper Christian posture for prayer was standing, because we no longer had to grovel before such a God or fear any God that is like Jesus."
Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone
The mystery of Eucharist clarifies and delineates Christianity from the other religions of the world. We have many things in common, but Christianity is the only religion that says that God became a human body; God became flesh, as John’s Gospel puts it (1:14). Our fancy theological word for that is the Incarnation, the enfleshment. 

It seems that it is much easier for God to convince bread of what it is than for God to convince us. Incarnation is scandalous, shocking—cannibalistic, intimate, sexual! He did not say, “Think about this,” “Fight about this,” “Stare at this;” but He said “Eat this!” A dynamic, interactive event that makes one out of two.

If we did not have the Eucharist, we would have to create it; sometimes it seems that outsiders can appreciate it more than Christians. 
As Gandhi said, “There are so many hungry people in the world that God could only come into the world in the form of food.” It is marvellous, that God would enter our lives not just in the form of sermons or Bibles, but in food. God comes to feed us more than just teach us. Lovers understand that."

Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone.

 "The Eucharist is telling us that God is the food and all we have to do is provide the hunger. 

Somehow we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside of us for another presence. 

If you are filled with your own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency, you are a world unto yourself and there is no room for “another."

"You’ve got to comprehend any Great Mystery in one focused moment. 
Great Truth must be put on small stages to be able to process and grasp its momentous significance. This is the sacramental principle. 

Believe it, struggle with it, comprehend it here, and then move beyond it and recognize what’s true here is true everywhere! The concrete is the doorway to the universal. 

That is probably why Catholics made a great deal of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus in the bread and wine. It was the distilled and focused truth that was to teach us how to see Christ in everything. 

The pathway to the universal mysteries is almost always through the concrete and specific moment. Poets tend to understand this very well.

Ubi Caritas Deus ibi Est
 "Where charity and love are, God is there."
English and other language translations here

The momentous doctrine of the Body of Christ was taught in two different ways by St. Paul. He used it both for the community itself (building on Jesus who said “wherever two or three gather, I am there”) and also for the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

 In the first thousand years, the community was called the Corpus Verum, the True Body of Christ, and the Eucharist was called the Mystical Body of Christ, the Corpus Mysticum, but no one doubted they were both the Presence! 

In the second thousand years the usage was almost entirely reversed, and we called the people the “mystical body of Christ” and the bread and wine the “real presence” or “Corpus Verum.” 

I wonder what that reversal of mentality reveals about our understanding of the Gospel?"

Source From The Cosmic Christ

I love this hymn. It brings back so many memories. It always moves me to tears. It has a special place in the Evening Mass of Holy Thursday at the start of the Triduum, the three days when we enter into the Paschal mystery of God's suffering death on the cross and Resurrection.

So much happens on Holy Thursday- the washing of the feet, the institution of the Eucharist. A special mass is held during the week where all the priests in the diocese go to the diocesan Cathedral and renew their vows to the priesthood. At this Chrism Mass the Holy Oils of Chrism are also blessed for use during the whole year.
The video below is a thousand year old chant sung at the end of the Mass on the evening of Holy Thursday. The Host is taken to another side altar of repose which "becomes" the Garden of Gethsemane. Churches stay open for "the watching" when people are invited to stay in silence, just as the disciples were asked to keep watch and pray with Jesus. 
It's a potent time to enter vividly into the experience of the suffering of Jesus this night and a prelude to what is to come for Him on Good Friday.
I haven't managed to stay long these past few years but it is so sad to see the altar completely stripped and the Eucharist being taken away. It co-incides with the guards coming to arrest Jesus after Judas betrays Him.
The Eucharist is not returned to the main Tabernacle until the Easter Vigil when we celebrate the Resurrection. 

Images and video are set to the Thomas Aquinas hymn "Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium". More on the hymn here.

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world's eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling
Shed for the world's ransoming.

Given for us, descending,
Of a Virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the Gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.

At the last great Supper lying
Circled by his brethren's band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.

Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
Very bread his Flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son;
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one.

In his book "Our One Great Act of Fidelity, Waiting for Christ in The Eucharist , Ron Rolheiser relates this story about St Augustine. When he was giving the Eucharist, instead of saying the body of Christ," he would say "Receive what you are." 

Rolheiser says : "What is supposed to happen at the Eucharist is that we, the congregation, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the body and blood of Christ.
More so than the bread and wine, we the people are meant to be changed , to be transubstantiated.

The Eucharist as sacrifice asks us to become the bread of brokenness and the chalice of vulnerability."

 So how can we live this out in our daily lives ?

From Rolheiser again :
 " Family and community aren't boring: they're terrifying. They're too full of searing revelations, there we have no place to hide. In family life, our selfishness and our immaturities are reflected back to us through eyes that are steady and unblinking. But Rolheiser also says that staying within them is often the hell that leads to heaven. 

The Eucharist as a spirituality invites us into community and family. To live out the eucharist in daily life is to share our everyday lives with each other...........
Theologians tell us that God is as much a verb as a noun. God is a trinity of persons: Father , Son and Holy Spirit. For Christians this is more than a simple dogma that we are asked to accept, even if we don't understand it.

It is something that invites us to a whole way of life : God is a family, a community of persons sharing life together in such a way that a spirit an energy of gratitude and joy flows out of that shared life.

We are asked to do the same-to share our lives with one another in such a way that joy and gratitude flow out as an energy that nurtures others. Life in the spirit is quite simply life shared with others. ...... He continues :....

"Jean Paul Sartre once suggested that community is hell. On a given day, the tensions inherent within community life can certainly make that seem true. However in our better moments, we all know that the reverse is the truth: alienation and aloneness are hell: shared life is heaven.

The Eucharist is an invitation to us not just to come together in church to celebrate a sacred ritual that Jesus left us. The Eucharist invites us to commit ourselves, inside our families and communities, to share all aspects of our lives with others."

All true, but sometimes the demands are such that we do have to take time out and withdraw to a mountain alone !!

We Come To Your Feast

We sang this beautiful hymn (also one of my favourites), by Michael Joncas at the Clear Voices Festival at Buckfast in July last year.

Click on arrow below or click here to listen.

 We Come to Your Feast

We place upon Your table a gleaming cloth of white
The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives,
The dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries,
The promise of our future, our needing and our nurture
Lie here before our eyes.

We come to Your feast, we come to your feast,
the young and the old, the frightened ,the bold,
the greatest and the least.
We come to Your feast, we come to Your feast,
with the fruit of our lands and the work of our hands
we come to Your feast.

We place upon Your table a humble loaf of bread,
The gift of field and hillside, the grain by which we're fed,
We come to taste the presence, of Him of whom we feed,
To strengthen and connect us,
 to challenge and correct us,
To love in word and deed. 


We place upon Your Table a simple cup of wine,
The fruit of human labour, the gift of sun and vine
We come to taste the presence of Him we claim as Lord
His dying and his living, His leading and His giving,
His love in cup out poured. 


We gather round Your table

we pause within our quest

We stand beside our neighbours, 

we name the stranger guest;

the feast is spread before us,

you bid us come and dine:

in blessing we'll uncover,

in sharing we''ll discover

your substance and your sign.


We come to Your feast, we come to Your feast,

the young and the old, the frightened ,the bold,

the greatest and the least.

We come to Your feast, we come to Your feast,

with the fruit of our lands and the work of our hands

we come to Your feast.

The washing of the feet Ghislaine Howard (b.1953 )
Acrylic 2004 Methodist Collection of Modern Christian Art, No.40
The Servant Song


Unlike the video version the lyrics below are inclusive !!

“The Servant Song”

Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too.

Image by John August Swanson.
Artists notes here

We are pilgrims on a journey.

Fellow travellers on the road.

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you

In the night time of your fear.

I will hold my hand out to you;

Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,

We shall find such harmony

Born of all we’ve known together

Of Christ’s love and agony.

 Image source

Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too.

Richard Gillard of New Zealand 1976-77

The Eucharist has always been a Christ' s way to show us how to overcome barriers , to transcend boundaries and bring people together

The Eucharist is the Sacrament Christ gave us to unite us to himself in one Body. How I wish and pray that were indeed so.

No comments: