CHARLOTTE — St. Patrick Cathedral was filled to capacity Thursday evening as Bishop Peter Jugis celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The liturgy marked the start of the Triduum, the three holy days preceding the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter.
The Triduum "is like a retreat that the Church gives us now at the end of Lent to bring us into Easter to make sure that we are focused and ready for the great celebration that is about to come on Easter Sunday," Bishop Jugis said during his homily. "It is our love for Jesus that brings us here this evening to this Mass of the Lord's Supper, and … a desire to be close to Jesus in the special days that follow."
The Mass of the Lord's Supper recalls Jesus' institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, His washing the feet of His disciples, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His betrayal and arrest.
Through the Eucharist – "this beautiful sacrament of His Body and Blood," this "living bread come down from heaven" – Jesus fulfills His promise "that He would be with us to the end of time," Bishop Jugis noted.
He also reflected on Jesus' words from the day's Gospel (John 13:1-15), "Do you realize what I have done for you?"
Jesus said these words after He had washed His disciples' feet, showing by example the humility and charity He wants them to follow. But those words could also apply to the Eucharist, Bishop Jugis said, and it is a question we should all ask ourselves.
"Do you realize what He has done for you, in giving you His living Presence in the Eucharist? Have you ever taken a moment to reflect upon that?" he asked the congregation.
"Do you realize the strength and the grace that is available to you in your daily living because of His living Presence in the Eucharist?
"Do you realize what a gift you have in the living Body and Blood of Christ, so that you can have His life within you? The Eucharist is alive!"
He prayed in conclusion, "May the Lord Jesus fill us with His love as we draw close to Him this evening, and may we remain close to Him throughout these holy days that are upon us."
At the end of the Holy Thursday Mass, altars in every church were stripped bare, candles and lights were extinguished, and the Blessed Sacrament was transferred to a temporary altar of repose until Easter – outwardly demonstrating the sense of the Church's bereavement during the time of Christ's Passion and burial.
Catholics then spent time in Eucharistic Adoration, recalling Jesus' words to His sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?"
On Good Friday, no Mass is celebrated.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor