Holy Thursday

"Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His, Passion renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given." -- Saint Thomas

This day is commemorative of the Last Supper, at which bur Lord instituted the Blessed Eucharist. The Gospel says: "I And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to His, disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat: This is My body. And taking the chalice He gave thanks: and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this, for this is My blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:26-28).

All ought to assist at Holy Mass to-day, and receive Holy Communion out of love to our Lord, Who gave Himself to us as a most precious legacy on the very eve of His death.

The circumstances under which He instituted the Blessed Eucharist reveal His unbounded love; He instituted It "the same, night in which He was betrayed" (I Cor. 11:23), and therefore at the very time when the hatred of His enemies was at its highest pitch, and when they were actually making their preparations to put Him to death. He instituted It though He knew that there was a vile traitor among His chosen followers, and that many Christians would despise and dishonor Him in this Sacrament.

At Mass today the priest consecrates a host to be reserved for the priest's communion tomorrow, there being, properly speaking, no Mass on Good Friday. This host is carried in solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, where it is kept till brought back in procession to the principal altar the following morning.

No bells are rung from the Gloria in excelsis till the same time on Saturday, to express the deep sorrow of the Church for the death of her Spouse.

After Mass the altars are uncovered, to put us in mind how Jesus, Whom the altar represents, was stripped of His garments at the time of His Passion; and therefore, while the priest uncovers them, he says the twenty-first Psalm, which is a clear prediction of our Saviour's Passion.

During the day devout worshippers are to be seen coming and going to pay their homage and adoration to the God of love, and to get in return the love of God.

These worshippers feel better than they can express the reality of the Divine Presence. If they are in grief, they find peace and consolation. If in danger and temptation, they feel, rather than hear, Him say, "It is I: fear not", and their troubled bosoms enjoy a calm which is a foretaste of Heaven. Above all, they feel that their love is not misplaced, that it is not fruitless, that it is not followed by the emptiness of heart which succeeds the outpourings of love on created objects.

"No art or eloquence of man
Can tell the joys of love ;
Only the Saints can understand
What they in Jesus prove.
Come, then, dear Lord, possess my heart,
Chase thence the shades of night;
Come, pierce it with Thy flaming dart
And ever-shining light!"

Example -- Don Garcia Moreno

Moreno was re-elected President of Ecuador in 1869. During his term of office marvellous improvements were witnessed everywhere - in schools, in hospitals, the army and navy, finances, roads, railways, and especially in maintaining peace.

His last autograph letter was to the Holy Father Pius IX, announcing his re-election and begging the apostolic benediction.

"I have," he wrote,"the more need of the Divine protection now, since the Masonic lodges of the neighbouring states vomit out every kind of atrocious insult and infamous slander against me, and have actually taken means secretly assassinate me. What a happiness it is for me, most Holy Father, to be hated and calumniated for the love of our Divine Redeemer! What an immense blessing would it be for me if your benediction obtained for me grace to shed my blood for Him Who, being God, yet deigned to shed His blood for us on the Cross."

On the first Friday in August he received, as was his custom, Holy Communion in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Some hours later, as he was passing the cathedral, he entered, and remained some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. His assassins, three in number, were dogging his steps, and, becoming impatient at his remaining so long in the church, they sent in word that some persons were waiting for him on important business.

He came out at once, and had already reached his palace when the first struck him with a heavy sword on the back of the neck. The President, fearless as ever, turned on the ruffian, when the two accomplices then rushed on him, and shot him many times with their revolvers, and hacked him with their knives.

The troops, hearing the noise, rushed to the rescue, but it was too late. The President, was mortally wounded. He was carried into the cathedral, where, after giving signs of consciousness and forgiveness of his assassins, he expired. His dying words were, "GOD NEVER DIES!"

Taken from Catholic Life (pages 43-46), available from The Neumann Press.