POPE FRANCIS ON JOY AND THE PRIESTHOOD - THE SIGNIFICANCE AND SYMBOLISM OF HOLY THURSDAY MASSES - HOLY THURSDAY: MASS OF THE LAST SUPPER, JESUS INSTITUTES THE EUCHARIST
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I received an email from a friend who was at Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolins commemoration on Tuesday evening of the new martyrs, and Sister tells me it was not a Mass as news.va reported and I thus reported - but a paraliturgy, which is a liturgy of the Word and distribution of communion.

This is my last column until Easter Monday a big holiday in Italy and much of Europe so Id like to wish everyone a blessed, beautiful and fruitful remainder of Holy Week, and an especially wonderful Easter Sunday!

This weekend and next on Vatican Insider I am offering a two-part special on Journeys of the Spirit. Ill accompany you on a mini-pilgrimage as we explore places and terminology linked to this most special moment in the life of a Christian.

Yesterday I offered a look at the meditations for the Good Friday Way of the Cross celebration tomorrow evening at the Colosseum, and today I look at the meaning of the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, the Mass of the Lords Supper and Pope Francis truly beautiful words to and about the priesthood at the Chrism Mass this morning.

God bless! Happy Easter!

POPE FRANCIS ON JOY AND THE PRIESTHOOD

Pope Francis homily for Holy Thursdays Chrism Mass was very beautiful and moving. His petitions to the Lord about joy and the priesthood were especially moving and I offer these as a gift to all priests and to the faithful served so beautifully by the worlds priests.

For me, said Pope Francis, there are three significant features of our priestly joy. It is a joy which anoints us (not one which greases us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous), it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards with those farthest away from us.

He then explained each of these in detail and offered the following petitions:

On this priestly Thursday, he went on, I ask the Lord Jesus to enable many young people to discover that burning zeal that joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.

On this priestly Thursday, I ask the Lord Jesus to preserve the joy sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world, to spend themselves fully in the midst of God's faithful people, rejoicing as they prepare their first homily, their first Mass, their first Baptism, their first confession It is the joy of being able to share with wonder, and for the first time as Gods anointed, the treasure of the Gospel and to feel the faithful people anointing you again and in yet another way: by their requests, by bowing their heads for your blessing, by taking your hands, by bringing you their children, by pleading for their sick Preserve, Lord, in your young priests the joy of going forth, of doing everything as if for the first time, the joy of spending their lives fully for you.

On this priestly Thursday, I ask the Lord Jesus to confirm the priestly joy of those who have already ministered for some years. The joy which, without leaving their eyes, is also found on the shoulders of those who bear the burden of the ministry, those priests who, having experienced the labors of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves: get a second wind, as the athletes say. Lord, preserve the depth, wisdom and maturity of the joy felt by these older priests. May they be able to pray with Nehemiah: the joy of the Lord is my strength (cf. Neh 8:10).

Finally, on this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross that springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.

THE SIGNIFICANCE AND SYMBOLISM OF HOLY THURSDAY MASSES

In a series of reflections, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, walked Vatican Radio through the Holy Week liturgies, explaining their significance, symbolism and place within the history of Christs Passion, Death and Resurrection.

He began with the Chrism Mass, the first of the liturgies on Holy Thursday morning, that leads us towards the Holy Triduum. The Church celebrates the Chrism Mass on the threshold of the Sacred Triduum, on the day when, by a supreme priestly act, the Son of God made man offered himself to the Father to redeem all humanity. The Chrism Mass is celebrated in cathedrals throughout the whole world on one of the days during Holy Week. Most dioceses have their celebration with the local presbyterate (priests) gathered around their bishop, earlier in the week.

In Rome, the Mass is celebrated on Holy Thursday morning. On Holy Thursday morning at 9:30 Rome time, Pope Francis presided at the Chrism Mass in St. Peters Basilica. Joining him were Cardinals, bishops and priests who live in Rome. During this liturgy, priests renew the promises first made at the priestly ordinations, to their Ordinary (Bishop). These promises or commitment of pastoral service are made publicly, and the people pledge their prayers and support in a very joyful and encouraging way.

Also during the Mass, the holy oils of the sick, of catechumens and of chrism are blessed and distributed to the parishes of the diocese. Our Church uses three sacramental oils. The oil of catechumens is used to strengthen those who are preparing for baptism for their struggle with temptation and sin. The oil of the sick is used for those who are seeking healing of mind, body and spirit. The Holy Chrism, our 'Christ oil,' is used at Baptism, Confirmation, at the ordination of priests and bishops and at the dedication of a church building and altar.

The Chrism Mass is always a highlight in the life of any bishop. Because a bishop is the one who consecrates chrism, this liturgy represents his own pastoral ministry and the unity of the whole world. All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world: it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus, the one Good Shepherd who, with deep compassion for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd, wants to associate many others to his ministry, so as himself to remain with us and to work, in the person of his priests, for the good of his people.

And the archbishop reflects on the Mass of the Lords Supper: The Holy Triduum are those final days when we follow Our Lord from the celebration of the Passover meal and the institution of the Eucharist in the Upper Room, in Jerusalem, towards his death the following day on Good Friday. Then we rest with him in the tomb on Holy Saturday until we celebrate we great joy looking back through all the scriptures, the wonderful workings of God to this moment when the Resurrection takes place. Three days but effectively one celebration.

It begins on Holy Thursday night with the Mass of the Lords Supperwhen we celebrate the first Eucharist, when we commemorate Our Lords ordination of his first priests, the Apostles, and when we remember that coupled with the Eucharist, when we receive the Eucharist we are receiving nourishment not only for ourselves but we are receiving something that makes us like Christ. And for that we recall the washing of the feet of others, because this is the act of charity, this is the act that makes us Christians different in everything we do. We take our worship into the streets by converting it into a revelation in action, a revelation of Gods love for the whole world

HOLY THURSDAY: MASS OF THE LAST SUPPER, JESUS INSTITUTES THE EUCHARIST

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, English language assistant to Fr. Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, offered the following reflections on the meaning, history and symbolism of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper.

Both the Jewish and Christian traditions view eating and feasting as more than simply an opportunity to refuel the body, enjoy certain delicacies, or celebrate a particular occasion. Eating and feasting became for both traditions, encounters with transcendent realities and even union with the divine. In the New Testament, so much of Jesus' own ministry took place during meals at table.

Jesus attends many meals throughout the four Gospels: with Levi and his business colleagues, with Simon the Pharisee, with Lazarus and his sisters in Bethany, with Zacchaeus and the crowd in Jericho, with outcasts and centurions, with crowds on Galilean hillsides, and with disciples in their homes.

It is ultimately during the final meal that Jesus leaves us with his most precious gift in the Eucharist. The Scripture readings for Holy Thursday root us deeply in our Jewish past: celebrating the Passover with the Jewish people, receiving from St. Paul that which was handed on to him, namely the Eucharistic banquet, and looking at Jesus squarely in the face as he kneels before us to wash our feet in humble service. Instead of presenting to us one of the synoptic Gospel stories (Matthew, Mark, Luke) of the "institution" of the Eucharist, the Church offers us the disturbing posture of the Master kneeling before his friends to wash their feet in a gesture of humility and service.

As Jesus wraps a towel around his waist, takes a pitcher of water, stoops down and begins washing the feet of his disciples, he teaches his friends that liberation and new life are won not in presiding over multitudes from royal thrones nor by the quantity of bloody sacrifices offered on temple altars but by walking with the lowly and poor and serving them as a foot washer along the journey.

On this holy night of "institution," as Jesus drank from the cup of his blood and stooped to wash feet, a new and dynamic, common bond was created with his disciples and with us. It is as though the whole history of salvation ends tonight just as it begins - with bare feet and the voice of God speaking to us through his own flesh and blood: "As I have done for you, so you must also do." The washing of the feet is integral to the Last Supper. It is John's way of saying to Christ's followers throughout the ages: "You must remember his sacrifice in the Mass, but you must also remember his admonition to go out and serve the world."

At the Last Supper, Jesus teaches us that true authority in the Church comes from being a servant, from laying down our lives for our friends. His life is a feast for the poor and for sinners. It must be the same for those who receive the Lord's body and blood. We become what we receive in this meal and we imitate Jesus in his saving works, his healing words, and his gestures of humble service. From the Eucharist must flow a certain style of communitarian life, a genuine care for our neighbors and for strangers.

Finally, the celebration of the Eucharist always projects us forward towards others, especially those who are poor, marginalized, abandoned or forgotten.

This year, as previously announced, Pope Francis will visit the Centro Santa Maria della Provvidenza Don Carlo Gnocchi home, celebrate the Mass of the Lords supper with residents, staff and their families, and wash the feet of the residents, many of whom are elderly and have disabilities.

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