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Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper

News of the Diocese

April 4, 2024

Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Bishop Woost invites faithful ‘to enter the mystery’ at Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The season of Lent ended as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper began on Holy Thursday (March 28) and the Paschal Triduum commenced. During the three days of the Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday – Catholics celebrate and encounter the most central mysteries of their faith.

“From this Mass of the Lord’s Supper through evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the Church invites us not simply to remember what happened 2,000 years ago, but to recognize what is happening among us and to us now by the saving actions of Christ, crucified and risen,” said Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost, homilist at the Holy Thursday Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Bishop Edward Malesic was the celebrant.

“As people called to conversion, gathered in faith and gifted with the Holy Spirit, in the Triduum liturgies, we expect God to reveal his presence, to take possession of our hearts and lives and to recreate us by the power of his Son’s death and resurrection. The Paschal Triduum has begun and we must enter the mystery," he said.

(See photo gallery above.)

To do that, the bishop said the Church instructs the homilist at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper to preach about three things: the gift of the Eucharist, the gift of ordained priesthood in the Church and Jesus’ example of charity and self-sacrificing service.

For the first part, he shared information on priestly ordination, explaining each ordinand receives the gifts of bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist from the bishop after the bishop has received these gifts from members of the faith community. The bishop tells the newly ordained priest to “Receive the oblation (gift) of the hoy people to be offered to God. Understand what you will do, imitate what you will celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”

Although Jesus did not engage in an elaborate ordination rite at the Last Supper, he did give us priests, Bishop Woost said. And the priests were told to “Do this in remembrance of me.”

“By the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through his body, the Church, Jesus provided ordained ministers to serve the needs of the faith community,” he said. From his first disciples, called and chosen, Jesus established those who would lead and serve his people as priests.

“Tonight, in this liturgy, we remember that Jesus gave us priests. In a unique way, they also give us Christ. Yes, through their sacramental ministry and celebration of the Eucharist, but also through, with and in their Eucharistic living. It’s all a part of the mystery revealed and encountered tonight,” he added.

As for the second part, the gift of the Eucharist, Bishop Woost said the oblations – offerings, gifts – come from the faithful. At every Mass, the priest receives the oblation of the holy people to be offered to God. The oblation – bread and wine – becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

“But also the offering of your lives, our lives – your hopes and dreams, your fears and doubts, your joy and sorrows, your everything,” he added. He asked the faithful to understand what they will do when they participate in the celebration of the Mass and to imitate what they celebrate “by believing in faith, hope and love that God does transform, consecrate and make holy what we offer so that it transcends what it is and becomes something more by God’s grace. After all, it isn’t what we believe about the Eucharist. It’s not bread. It’s not wine. It is Christ, risen and glorified. God takes our simple offerings of bread and wine and makes them into something extraordinary – into Christ, into God’s very life upon we are invited to feast.”

And for the third part, Jesus’ example of charity and self-sacrificing service, he pointed to the washing of the feet – a key part of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and an imitation of what Jesus did that night.

“Jesus washing feet is Eucharist in action. It is love in action. Just as dying on the cross is Eucharist in action and love in action. ‘… As I have done for you, so you should also do,’” the bishop said.

He cited other examples of Eucharist in action including a husband and wife living in love and fidelity; parents raising children in a loving, faith-filled home; elderly homebound cared for, visited and respected; the hungry fed; the naked clothed; the immigrant stranger welcomed; the imprisoned visited; the sick comforted; the dying consoled; advocating for the right to life, for peace and justice; willingness to invest time, talent and treasure to evangelize, witness, minister and serve; to live one’s faith and morals in a culture that rejects fundamental Christian principles and to die a martyr’s death for love of God and neighbor – to lay down one’s life for a friend.

“Tonight, we are united in Christ’s Paschal mystery revealed in the gift of the priesthood, the gift of the Eucharist and his command to give of ourselves in loving service. May the Lord open our hearts and our minds so that his mystery can enfold us. In response, may we joyfully enter in. Enter the mystery,” Bishop Woost said.

After the homily, Bishop Malesic washed the feet of a diverse representation of the faithful.

Then, after Communion, the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the tabernacle and carefully placed on the altar of repose where it remained until Holy Saturday. The altar also was stripped.

The faithful were encouraged remain for adoration and prayer until 11 p.m.

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