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Thoughts from the Early Church
Holy Thursday
Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper

March 28, 2013



Commentary
attributed to Augustine of Hippo
Jesus showed how perfect was his love.

This evening we devoutly recall the sacred day before our Lord's passion when he graciously took supper with his disciples, willingly accepting everything that had been written or prophesied concerning his sufferings and death, in his merciful desire to set us free. It behooves us therefore to celebrate such mysteries in a manner befitting their magnitude, so that those of us who desire to share in Christ's sufferings may also deserve to share in his resurrection. For all the mysteries of the Old Testament were fully consummated when Christ handed over to his disciples the bread that was his body and the wine that was his blood, to be offered by them in the eternal mysteries and to be received by each of the faithful for the forgiveness of all sin.

In this way Christ showed that as he suffered for our sake in his mortal body in order to ransom us from eternal death and prepare our way to the heavenly kingdom, so, in order to have us as his companions in eternal life, he would be willing to undergo the same things daily for us whenever we celebrated the sacramental reenactment of these sacred mysteries. For this reason he told his disciples: "Take this, all of you; this is my body, and this the chalice of my blood which is shed for all for the forgiveness of every sin. Whenever you receive it, you do so in memory of me."

On the altar, therefore, Christ is present; there he is slain, there he is sacrificed, there his body and blood are received. Christ who on this Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper day gave his disciples the bread and the cup is the same Christ who today consecrates these elements. It is not the man who handles the sacramental species who consecrates Christ's body and blood; it is Christ himself, who was crucified for you. By the lips of the priest the words are pronounced; the body and blood are consecrated by the power and grace of God.

And so in all things let the purity of our mind and thought be evident, for we have a pure and holy sacrifice and must train our souls in a corresponding holiness. Having done all that needs to be done, we may then celebrate these sacred mysteries with all simplicity. Let us therefore approach Christ's altar in a fitting manner, so that we may be counted worthy to share eternal life with Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

(Sermo Mai 143: PLS 2, 1238-1239)

Edith Barnecut, O. S. B. As a consultant for the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, Sr. Edith was responsible for the final version of many of the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Copyright © 1994, New City Press.
All Rights Reserved.
Journey with the Fathers
Commentaries on the Sunday Gospels
- Year C, pp. 42-43.
Edith Barnecut, O. S. B., ed.
To purchase or learn more about
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go to http://www.newcitypress.com/
Art by Martin Erspamer, O.S.B.
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
Used by permission of Liturgy Training Publications. This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go to: http://www.ltp.org/

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