Posted by: fvbcdm | March 29, 2013

Holy Thursday (28 March 2013)

Today is Holy Thursday, the liturgical anniversary of what we have come to call “the Last Supper.” Our Lord and his twelve apostles gathered in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover together, and in the context of that Passover supper, Jesus gave to the world two of his most precious gifts: the Christian priesthood, and the Holy Eucharist, which is himself under the form of bread and wine. In a sense, Holy Thursday is the birthday of every one of us who have been blessed with the gift of the priesthood.  It is what we are; it is what we do.  I have wanted to be a priest all my life, and the day when that sacrament was conferred upon me—nearly 50 years ago—was a defining moment in my life.  It ushered me into a whole new world of sacred activity, but the greatest power that it gave me was that of celebrating Mass, the highest form of divine worship that the world has ever been given and that human beings can offer to our God.

I remember when I was a child, one of my teachers was talking to us about saying that we were “going to church.”  She said, “a church is a building. We are not going to a building. We are going to take part in a sacred event.  That event is the Mass.  So please don’t say that you are going to church. Say, what is more accurate, that you are “going to Mass.” And she was quite correct.  I have often celebrated Mass outside of a church—in chapels, gymnasia, aboard ships, and out in the open. Those present were not in church, but they were very much “at Mass”; they were taking part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist.

The Mass is that activity which is directed to God, has as its principal priest and victim Our Lord Jesus Christ, is performed by a human priest, and is enacted for God’s people—those who are physically present there, and for the whole world.  So you see, when I became a priest, I was initiated into a whole system of divine worship, and when you attend Mass you take part in a sacred activity which is far wider than just what is going on where you happen to be, and involves many more people than are present there with you.  Jesus wanted, and wants, to nourish the entire human race with his own body and blood; he died on the cross the day following “the last supper” for the entire race—past, present, and future. Every Mass from the time of that last supper until the end of time is a part of this immense action of prayer and praise that is the highest form of prayer, adoration, and worship that man can offer to God, because it is principally being offered by the man Jesus, who is also God, to God for the sake of men and women.

Those who understand the true meaning, value and beauty of the Mass and attend it frequently—often daily—take a very active part in the prayer-life of the Church, given to us by Christ.  He tells us in the gospel, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.” There are many, sadly, who for one reason or another do not attend Mass and do not receive Holy Communion.  In some cases it is not their fault; in some cases, it is.  But in all cases, it is sad that they are deprived of this enormously important gift—one of Jesus’s greatest blessings upon the world. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. 

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