Maundy Thursday, 9th April 2020.
Today we begin the Sacred Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday). If you are saddened that you cannot participate in the Triduum this year by being personally present, if you are hurting because of it, take heart, because it is a sign that you truly love Our Lord. Unite yourself with Our Lady, St John and St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross and offer up your sufferings in reparation for all the offences committed against Our Lord and His most holy Mother, for the Church and for the Pope, the Bishops, for the conversion of sinners and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. To offer up our sufferings in this way is one of the main features of being Catholic – carrying our crosses in union with Christ, and God gives us all the graces necessary to carry them.
There is the beautiful prayer the Angel of Portugal taught the three seers of Fatima in 1916 in preparation for the apparitions of Our Lady that would take place the following year.
The Angel appeared with a Chalice in his hand, holding over It a Host from which drops of Blood fell into the Chalice. He left the Host and Chalice suspended in the air and then prostrated himself before It, repeating the following prayer three times and teaching the children to do the same:
Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of JESUS Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.
We should all say this prayer frequently – so great are the sins in the world and in the Church today, far greater than in 1916 when the Angel taught it to the children. It also reminds us of the reverence and adoration we must have for the Holy Eucharist. Christ is truly present there – God is truly present there. We are living in a world today without God. Perhaps this has been particularly highlighted to us during this pandemic because you are without access to the Blessed Sacrament. Churches are locked, even for private prayer (something I just cannot understand). You cannot receive the other Sacraments either – at least not easily, but you can go to the supermarket and the doctor, and you can still go out for your daily exercise. But God is not important it seems. But we need God more than ever in these times. It’s as if everything has been turned on its head. But we can take great comfort in the fact that God is in charge. He has permitted this to happen for some reason, so there has to be a lesson for the world. The world must return to Him so that He again becomes central. God is shouting at the world now to repent. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). This is the message in both the Old and New Testaments and also of Our Lady whenever she appears throughout the world. She is our Mother, she loves us and she wants the world to return to her Son. It cannot be a coincidence this pandemic has been unleashed during Lent. So we are called to lead the way in this. Make many acts of penance and reparation and pray many Rosaries.
Maundy Thursday is a very special day and particularly for us priests, as it is the day Our Lord instituted the Holy Mass and the Priesthood. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are in a certain way one and the same thing. What do I mean? At the Last Supper, Our Lord instituted a memorial of His crucifixion and death. So the Mass is not a commemoration of the Last Supper. It is primarily a sacrifice, the making present of His death sacramentally on the altar. At the Last Supper, Our Lord performed two miracles. He changed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood, and because He is God, He also reached forward in time and made His own sacrificial death and crucifixion present to the Apostles under the appearance of bread and wine some hours before it actually happened in time. The separate Consecration of the bread and wine recalls the real separation of His Body and Blood on the cross – in other words His death. Similarly, at every Mass we are transported back in time to Calvary, and His crucifixion and death are made present to us. Hence the Mass is a true sacrifice albeit in an unbloody manner. Although you cannot receive Holy Communion or attend Mass today, you can make a Spiritual Communion. Try to do it today especially with great fervour because this will be a comfort to our Lord during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And then there is the institution of the Priesthood. When a priest is ordained it is the Priesthood of Christ he shares in. Perhaps we don’t often think of Our Lord as a Priest, but He is. A priest is one who offers sacrifice. From the moment of His conception in Our Lady’s womb, when He took on our humanity, JESUS is the eternal High Priest. And on the cross, He was both priest and victim. He offered Himself to the Father to redeem us, and therefore the Mass is the most perfect act of worship we can perform on earth, because it is Christ who is being offered and who makes the offering. And being God, the sacrifice of His life was of an infinite value, and therefore every Mass is also of an infinite value, because Calvary and the Mass are one and the same. The picture below is a great illustration of this and I have it hanging in my room. Christ only died once, but in the Mass the fruits of His Passion, Death and Resurrection are applied to the world and calls down God’s great mercy upon us.
So let us have full trust in Our Lord and thank Him today profoundly for the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and of the Priesthood. Please continue to pray for all of us priests, for those in formation and for vocations to the priesthood. The Mass this evening is being offered for all the priests of the Catholic Church. Try to stay as close as you can to Our Lord in these holiest of days, and let us be joyful because Christ always has the victory in the end.
May God bless you all, and in the words of Our Lord, “Fear not, only believe” (Mark 5:36).