Beginning this weekend I will be considering in my column the Sacred Triduum (Three Days), namely Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.
So today I will reflect upon Holy Thursday. We know from the Gospels that the Last Supper occurred on a Thursday, because Jesus died on the day before the Sabbath (Saturday) and the Last Supper took place on the evening before his death.
When I was a child there were actually two Masses on Holy Thursday, the Chrism Mass (for the blessing of oils) in the morning at the Cathedral and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at each parish. Following the Second Vatican Council permission was given to celebrate Chrism Mass on an earlier evening during Holy Week. In the Madison Diocese it is on Tuesday. The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which is at 7:00 p.m. at St. Peter’s, differs in several ways from an ordinary Mass. At the beginning the oils blessed by the Bishop at the Chrism Mass are carried in the opening procession and placed in a prominent location in the sanctuary. After the homily the Washing of Feet is performed in imitation of Jesus at the Last Supper. During the Eucharistic Prayer extra hosts are consecrated so that a sufficient number are available for Good Friday.
At the end of the Mass the blessing and dismissal are omitted. Instead the Blessed Sacrament is incensed and then carried in procession to a special chapel (in room 10) where a prayer vigil is observed until 11:00 p.m.
I hope you will plan to attend the beautiful Mass of the Lord’s Supper this year. If you do I know you will be uplifted and inspired.