HOLY THURSDAY REFLECTION
THE INSTITUTION OF THE SACRAMENTS OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND OF HOLY ORDERS.
Summary vid + full text
- “THIS IS MY BODY…THIS IS MY BLOOD.” THE EUCHARIST IS THE FLESH AND BLOOD OF CHRIST.
- “DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” CHRIST GAVE THE APOSTLES AND THEIR SUCCESSORS THE POWER TO PERFORM IT.
- “POURED OUT FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”: THE MASS AS THE ATONING DEATH OF CHRIST FOR ALL MEN. “IN PERSONA CHRISTI”.
On HOLY THURSDAY, we celebrate THE EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER during which three principal mysteries are commemorated, namely:
- the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist;
2. the institution of the Sacrament of the Priestly Order;
3. and the commandment of the Lord concerning fraternal charity.
Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood. The Gospel of St. Matthew recounts the Institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
“26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the g covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” Mt 26: 26-29.
Blessed Pope Paul VI expresses this faith in these words in his encyclical letter Mysterium fidei, 5:
“The continuous teaching of the Catholic Church, the traditions delivered to catechumens, the perception of the Christian people, the doctrine defined by the Council of Trent, and the very words of Christ as he instituted the most holy Eucharist, all insist that we profess: ‘The Eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ; the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, of his kindness, brought to life.’ To these words of St Ignatius of Antioch may be added the statement addressed to the people by Theodore of Mopsuestia, a faithful witness of the Church’s belief on this subject: ‘The Lord did not say; “This is the symbol of my body and this the symbol of my blood”. He said: “This is my body and my blood”.”
- This sacrament, which not only has the power to sanctify but actually contains the very Author of Holiness, was instituted by Jesus Christ to be spiritual nourishment of the soul, to strengthen it in its struggle to attain salvation.
- The Church teaches that it also confers pardon of venial sins and helps the Christian not to fall into mortal sin: it unites us to God and thereby is a pledge of future glory.
2. “DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” CHRIST GAVE THE APOSTLES AND THEIR SUCCESSORS THE POWER TO PERFORM IT.
“The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words ‘until he comes’ does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 1341)
In instituting the Blessed Eucharist our Lord laid down that it should be repeated until the end of time (cf. 1 Cor 11:24-25; Lk 22:19) by giving the Apostles the power to perform it.
- From this passage, and the accounts in St Paul and St Luke (loc. cit.), we can see that Christ also instituted the priesthood, giving the Apostles the power to confect the Eucharist, a power which they in turn passed on to their successors.
- This making of the Eucharist takes place at Mass when the priest, with the intention of doing what the Church does, says Christ’s words of consecration over the bread and the wine. At this very moment, “a change takes place in which the whole substance of bread is changed into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood” (De SS. Eucharistia). This amazing change is given the name of “transubstantiation.”
- Through transubstantiation the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine disappear, becoming the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Christ’s real presence is to be found also in any little particles which become detached from the host, or the smallest drop from the chalice, after the consecration. It continues when the sacred species are reserved in the tabernacle, as long as the appearances (of bread and wine) last.
3. “POURED OUT FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”: THE MASS AS THE ATONING DEATH OF CHRIST FOR ALL MEN. “IN PERSONA CHRISTI”.
The expression, “which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” is the fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah (chapter 53), which spoke of the atoning death of Christ for all men.
- Only Christ’s sacrifice is capable of atoning to the Father; the Mass has this power because it is that very sacrifice:
- “The priest offers the Holy Sacrifice in persona Christi; this means more than offering “in the name of” or “in the place of” Christ. In persona means in specific sacramental identification with the eternal High Priest who is the Author and principal Subject of this sacrifice of his, a sacrifice in which, in truth, nobody can take his place. Only he – only Christ — was able and is always able to be the true and effective ‘expiation for our sins and . . . for the sins of the whole world’ (1 Jn 2:2; cf. 4:10)” (John Paul II, Letter to all bishops, on the Eucharist, 24 November 1980).
- “It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1410)
Dear friends, Holy Thursday is a great day to contemplate Jesus’ immense love for each one of us especially in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and of Priestly Orders. Let us not forget that love requires correspondence and reciprocity. Let us also examine ourselves if our love for God and for those around us is one which is humble and self-forgetful; a love which knows how to give one’s self and to serve the others; a love which seeks union and intimacy with the Beloved.
“Jesus has remained in the Eucharist to remedy our weaknesses, our doubts, our fears, our anxieties; to cure our loneliness, our perplexity, our discouragement; to accompany us on our way; to uphold us in our struggle. Above all, he is there to teach us to love, to draw us to his Love. ‘When you contemplate the Sacred Host exposed on the altar in the monstrance, think how great is the love, the tenderness of Christ. My way to understand it is by thinking of the love I have for you. If I could be far away, working, and at the same time at the side of each one of you, how gladly I would do it!
But Christ really can do it! He loves us with a love that is infinitely greater than the love that all the hearts of the world could hold. And he has stayed with us so that we can join ourselves at any time to his most Sacred Humanity, and so that he can help us, console us, strengthen us, so that we may be faithful (St. Josemaría, The Forge, 838. Cf. 832, 837)’ (Javier Echevarría, Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of the Year of the Eucharist, Oct. 6, 2004).”
Dear Jesus, make our love the same as Thine! Take care of your priests and send us more priestly vocations with a heart that is same as Yours!
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