Posted in HOLY WEEK, MORNING Prayers

Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday/The Last Supper of the Lord – 13 April 2017

Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday/The Last Supper of the Lord – 13 April 2017

Today is Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday or the Last Supper. It’s here, at the Last Supper, that we see: (1) the institution of the Eucharist (2) the institution of the sacramental priesthood and (3) references to Baptism and Confession. Sacramentally, then, it’s important and very beautiful.

I. The Eucharist

The Eucharist is straight-forward (Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25).  It’s also of obvious importance to the early Church: it’s one of relatively few events recorded (nearly verbatim) by St. Paul and the Synoptic Gospels.  As Catholics, we believe that when Jesus said, “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood of the Covenant,” that He meant “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood of the Covenant,” and not some other thing, like “this is a symbol.”  Suffice it to say that this language is prefigured in the Old Covenant (Exodus 24:8), and wasn’t symbolic then (as Hebrews 9:18-20 notes).

II. Holy Orders
But let’s talk a bit about Holy Orders.   It’s not coincidental that the priesthood and Eucharist are established simultaneously.    The Eucharistic Sacrifice, after all, requires priests:  a priest, is one who offers sacrifice.    But Christ does something interesting with this notion of priesthood in the washing of the feet (John 13:3-17).   This appears to be a deliberate echo of the washing of the hands and feet done by the sacrificial priests of the Old Covenant (Exodus 30:19-21).    This washing was to symbolise the priest’s unworthiness to approach the Lord, so it’s fitting that the washing of feet occurs at the same time that the Apostles are entrusted with the Eucharist (which they’re not worthy to approach).    But notice what’s different: the Old Covenant focused on self-purification.  The New Covenant is focused on sanctifying others.    This is in keeping with the model of clerical governance that Christ imparts to St. Peter and the Apostles at this Last Supper (Luke 22:24-34).
III. Baptism and Confession
Christ Washing the Feet of Peter (11th c.)

And the washing of the feet doesn’t just represent the priesthood.  It also represents Sacramental Confession.  In John 13:6-10, Jesus and Peter have this dialogue:

He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.
Obviously, this isn’t about “the removal of dirt from the body” (1 Peter 3:21), but the forgiveness of sins. That’s why Jesus says that Judas isn’t clean, at the end (Jn. 13:10-11).  Well, given that, what’s the bath that Jesus is talking about? It’s Baptism, “the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
If that’s right, what is Jesus saying that the washing of feet represents?  Sacramental confession (CCC 14841486).  It is in this way that we are restored to our Baptismal purity.  And here’s something fascinating: just as Christ doesn’t permit the Disciples to purify themselves, but instructs them to purify one another, the same is true for the priesthood He established, and sacramental confession.
IV. The Priestly Commission
Rogier van der Weyden, Seven Sacraments Altarpiece(detail, right wing) (1450)

Having established all of this, consider Christ’s dual commission.  Immediately after instituting the Eucharist, He orders the Apostles: “do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24).    That doesn’t mean “treat this as a symbol,” by the way.    Once again, the Old Testament provides important context.    The Old Covenant contained what’s called the memorial sacrifice or memorial offering (see, e.g., Leviticus 2:9).  The sacrifice wasn’t a mere symbol: the memorial offering of grain actually was grain. And the memorial offering of our prayers (Acts 10:4) aren’t symbols of prayers, but actual prayers.    Likewise, the memorial offering of Christ’s Body and Blood actually is Christ’s Body and Blood.   But each of these memorial offerings also recalls something: in this case, we’re offering up Christ’s Body and Blood, while recalling His Death on Calvary.

So “do this in remembrance of me,” properly understood, is sacrificial language.   The first Eucharist is offered by Christ, who is both the High Priest (Hebrews 9:11), and the willing Sacrificial Victim (1 Corinthians 5:7).   Jesus makes this clear Himself in John 10:17-18: He is in control over everything, including Calvary. But what’s shocking is that He tells the Apostles to carry on His priestly role. To continue to offer the memorial offering of His Body and Blood.

Only slightly less shocking is the second commission, which comes at the end of the washing of the feet (John 13:12-17),

When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Rogier van der Weyden, Seven Sacraments Altarpiece(detail, left wing) (1450)

That’s the mandate (mandatum) that gives Maundy Thursday its name.    Now, this doesn’t sound shocking at first, because it sounds like Jesus is just saying, “be humble.”  And surely, that’s part of it.  But remember what we established earlier:  that the washing of feet is about the sacrificial priesthood and about the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus makes that last part really clear in John 13:6-11.    He’s not calling Judas smelly.   He’s saying Judas is still trapped in sin.  So in that context, Jesus Christ is calling the Apostles not only to be humble, but to (a) forgive sins, and (b) pass on the gift of the priesthood.    He’ll later empower the Apostles to carry out this command to forgive sins by imparting the Holy Spirit upon them (John 20:21-23).    But too often, Christians read the washing of feet as simply a nice gesture, when Christ makes it clear that it’s so much more.

So tonight should be a true celebration of the Sacraments that Christ left us and the beautiful manner in which they are, in God’s Providence, intertwined.   Baptism, to wash us free from our sins.  The Eucharist, the food of life, partaking in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Confession, to restore us to our Baptismal purity and prepare us for the Eucharist.  And Holy Orders, to carry on His priestly ministry, and to ensure that we should always have the Eucharist and Confession.  by


Posted in HOLY WEEK, MORNING Prayers

Maundy Thursday of Holy Week – 13 April 2017

Maundy Thursday of Holy Week – 13 April 2017

O God, who have called us to participate
in this most sacred Supper,
in which Your Only Begotten Son,
when about to hand Himself over to death,
entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity,
the banquet of His love,
grant, we pray,
that we may draw from so great a mystery,
the fullness of charity and of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


The Thirteenth Station:
Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross

st 13

My Jesus, it was with deep grief that Mary finally took You into her arms and saw all the wounds sin had inflicted upon You.    Mary Magdalene looked upon Your dead Body with horror.    Nicodemus, the man so full of human respect, who came to You by night, suddenly received the courage to help Joseph take you down from the Cross.    You are once more surrounded by only a few followers.    When loneliness and failure cross my path, let me think of this lonely moment and this total failure – failure in the eyes of men. How wrong they were – how mistaken their concept of success!    The greatest act of love was given in desolation and the most successful mission accomplished and finished when all seemed lost.    Is this not true in my life, dear Jesus?    I judge my failures harshly.    I demand perfection instead of holiness.    My idea of success is for all to end well – according to my liking.
Give to all men the grace to see that doing Your Will is more important than success.    If failure is permitted for my greater good then teach me how to use it to my advantage.    Let me say as You once said, that to do the Will of the Father is my food.    Let not the standards of this world take possession of me or destroy the good You have set for me – to be Holy and to accomplish the Father’s Will with great love.    Let me accept praise or blame, success or failure with equal serenity.

The Fourteenth Station:
Jesus is Laid in the Sepulcher


My Jesus, You were laid to rest in a stranger’s tomb.    You were born with nothing of this world’s goods and You died detached from everything.    When You came into the world, men slept and angels sang and now as You leave it, Creation is silent and only a few weep.    Both events were clothed in obscurity.    The majority of men live in such a way. Most of us live and die knowing and known by only a few.    Were You trying to tell us, dear Jesus, how very important our lives are just because we are accomplishing the Father’s Will?    Will we ever learn the lesson of humility that makes us content with who we are, where we are and what we are?
Will our Faith ever be strong enough to see power in weakness and good in the sufferings of our lives?    Will our Hope be trusting enough to rely on Your Providence even when we have nowhere to lay our head?    Will our Love ever be strong enough not to take scandal in the cross?

My Jesus, hide my soul in Your heart as You lie in the Sepulcher alone.    Let my heart be as a fire to keep you warm.    Let my desire to know and love You be like a torch to light up the darkness.    Let my soul sing softly a hymn of repentant love as the hours pass and Your Resurrection is at hand.    Let me rejoice, dear Jesus, with all the Angels in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for so great a love- so great a God- so great a day!

Stations of the Cross by Mother Angelica

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 13 April

Thought for the Day – 13 April

Jesus taught that His followers would “suffer persecution for the sake of justice” and that is often the lot of the followers of Christ.   If we follow our Christian convictions and live them, we will often be opposed and criticised.   That is part of the price of following our Lord Jesus Christ, look what happened to Him!   The real significance of the word martyr comes not from the dying but from the witnessing, which the word means in its derivation.    People who are willing to give up everything, their most precious possessions, their very lives, put a supreme value on the cause or belief for which they sacrifice.    Martyrdom, dying for the faith, is an incidental extreme to which some have had to go to manifest their belief in Christ.    A living faith, a life that exemplifies Christ’s teaching throughout and that in spite of difficulties, is required of all Christians. St Pope Martin I refused to cut corners as a way of easing his lot, to make some accommodations with the civil rulers and he died a martyr.

St Pope Martin I pray for us!


Posted in HOLY WEEK

Holy Thursday – 13 April 2017

Holy Thursday – 13 April 2017

The washing of the feet: ultimate act of love and service

The washing of the feet is a very particular moment in the ceremony.   It happens after the readings, after a homily and before the celebration of the Eucharist.   It is a moment when 12 people gathered in the Church come together near the altar and the chief celebrant washes each foot: “water is poured over, the foot is dried and sometimes the foot is kissed” he says.

It is done in silence, the congregation is singing but no prayers are said:  it is the gesture that counts.   My feet are my way to God, I walk the path to God, my feet are that part of my anatomy which enables me to move… they are the way to love.   We are all pilgrims on the way…


Twelve very different pairs of feet that sat around the table on that eventful evening of Jesus’ last Supper:

–    The feet that never walked – the feet of people who have never had the opportunity of experiencing the walk in any other way than “being walked by someone else”…

–    The feet that never wore shoes; that are so poor that they haven’t got shoes…

–    The feet that are always shackled; the feet that have been put in prison…

–    The feet of those who are so talented; who use those feet in a magical way…

–    The feet that give pain as we get older…

–    The feet crushed in accidents; feet that are lost through no fault of our own…

–    The feet that spend hours training to run a marathon for charity…

–    The feet that are blown off by landmines…

–    The feet of those who have walked and have never found; the ones who doubt…

–    The feet that have always taken the wrong turnings…

–    The feet of strangers who have come to this Church…

–    The feet that long to walk to Heaven…

Benedictine Abbot Timothy Wright


Posted in FATHERS of the Church, HOLY WEEK, MORNING Prayers

Our Morning Offering – 13 April

Our Morning Offering – 13 April

Come, Jesus, for my feet are soiled.
Become once more a servant for my sake.
Pour water into Your basin
and come and wash my feet.
I know these words of mine presume too much
and yet I dread those frightening words of Yours,
“If I do not wash your feet, you can have no part in me.”
Then wash my feet, so that I belong to You.
Yet how can I dare to say, “wash my feet?”
Let Peter say so: he needed only to have his feet washed.
For he was clean through and through.
I too have been washed once in baptism
and yet I need that other cleansing that You spoke of
when You said, “I have anothe baptism to under”;
Cleanse me Lord thoroughly,
by Your saving death. Amen

By Origen of Alexandria

Come Jesus for my feet are soiled by ORIGEN

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 13 April – St Pope Martin I

Saint of the Day – 13 April – St Pope Martin I (598-655) Martyr – Attributes  Pope holding money,  Pope with geese around him (possible confusion by artist with Martin of Tours),  Pope in a prison cell.

S. Martin was a Priest of Rome who had a reputation for being well-educated and holy. He became the 74th Pope in July, 649.   When people were arguing over the truths about Jesus, Pope Martin called a meeting of Bishops.    This meeting was the Council of the Lateran.   It explained clearly what we believe about certain truths.   However, some Christians were not pleased about it.   Pope Martin knew the Council’s explanations were true.    It was his duty as pope to teach people the truth.

Some powerful men did not appreciate Pope Martin’s activities.    One such person was Emperor Constans II of Constantinople.    He sent his soldiers to Rome to capture Martin and bring him to Constantinople.    The soldiers kidnapped the pope.   They took him from the Lateran Cathedral and onto a ship. Pope    Martin became ill but they continued their journey.    In October, 653, he was put in jail in Constantinople for three months.   He was given only a little food and water each day.   Pope Martin was put on trial, publicly humiliated and condemned to death.    But then he was sent back to the same prison for three more months.    Patriarch Paul of Constantinople pleaded for the pope’s life.   So instead of death, the pope was sentenced to be exiled.   Pope Martin was put on a ship that took him across the Black Sea.    In April, 654, it landed on the Russian peninsula called the Crimea.

Pope Martin was shocked at the neglect he suffered from those who were in charge of his captivity.   He wrote his own account of those sad days.   The pope said that he felt very bad to be forgotten by his relatives and members of the Church in Rome.   He realised their neglect was driven by fear.

The pope’s exile lasted two years.    He died around 655.   Because of his terrible sufferings, he was proclaimed a martyr.    He is the last of the popes so far to be considered a martyr.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saints, memorials, celebrations – 13 April

Holy Thursday (2017)
St Pope Martin I (Optional Memorial)

Agathonica of Pergamus
Agathodorus of Pergamus
Caradoc of Wales
Carpus of Pergamus
Bl Edward Catherick
Bl Francis Dickenson
Ida of Boulogne
Bl Ida of Louvain
Bl Isabel Calduch Rovira
Bl James of Certaldo
Bl John Lockwood
Bl Margaret of Castello
Martius of Auvergne
Bl Miles Gerard
Papylus of Pergamus
Proculus of Terni
Bl Rolando Rivi
Sabas Reyes Salazar
Bl Scubilion Rousseau
Ursus of Ravenna

Martyrs of Dorostorum – 3 saints: A lector and two students martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian – Dadas, Maximus and Quinctillianus. Beheaded c.303 in Dorostorum, Lower Mysia (modern Sillistria, Bulgaria