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Mass of the Lord's Supper

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) - The Last Supper (1495-1498)

The Last Supper (Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (1498), by Leonardo da Vinci).

The Mass of the Lord's Supper, which inaugurates the Easter Triduum,[1] commemorates more explicitly than other celebrations of the Mass the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples.

The Mass stresses three aspects of that event: "the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the commandment of brotherly love that Jesus gave after washing the feet of his disciples."[2]

Structure

The Mass begins as usual, with the exception that the tabernacle, wherever placed, should be empty.[3]

At the singing of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, all the church bells may be rung; afterwards, they are silenced until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil.[4]

The Liturgy of the Word consists of the following readings:

Meister des Hausbuches 003

Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles by Meister des Hausbuches, 1475 (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin).

After the homily, which should explain the three aspects of the celebration mentioned above,[7] the priest who is celebrating the Mass removes his chasuble, puts on a linen gremiale (an amice is often used for this purpose), and proceeds to wash the feet of a number of people (usually twelve, corresponding to the number of the Apostles)[8]

There are special formulas in the Eucharistic Prayer to recall that the Mass of the Lord's Supper is in commemoration of Jesus' Last Supper.

Sufficient hosts are consecrated for the faithful to receive Communion both at that Mass and on the next day. The hosts intended for the Good Friday service are not placed in the tabernacle, as is usual, but are left on the altar, while the priests says the postcommunion prayer.[9] Then the priest incenses the Blessed Sacrament three times and, taking a humeral veil with which to hold it, carries it in solemn procession to a place of reservation somewhere in the church or in an appropriately adorned chapel.[10] The procession is led by a cross-bearer accompanied by two servers with lighted candles; other servers with lighted candles follow and a thurifer immediately precedes the priest.[11]

On arrival at the place of reposition, the priest places the vessel with the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle there, leaving the door open. He then incenses it and closes the tabernacle door. After a period of adoration, he and the servers depart in silence.[12]

The continuation of Eucharistic adoration is encouraged, but if continued after midnight should be done without outward solemnity.[13][14]The Blessed Sacrament remains in the temporary place until the Holy Communion part of the Good Friday liturgical service.

At a suitable time after the Mass of the Lord's Supper the altar is stripped without ceremony, and crosses in the church are removed or covered.[15]

History

The celebration of a Mass in the evening of Holy Thursday began in late fourth-century Jerusalem, where it became customary to celebrate the events of the Passion of Jesus in the places where they took place. In Rome at that time a Mass was celebrated at which penitents were reconciled with a view to participation in the Easter celebrations. The Jerusalem custom spread and in seventh-century Rome the Pope celebrated a Mass of the Lord's Supper on this day as well as the Mass of Reconciliation. By the eighth century, the Masses became three: one for reconciliation, one for blessing the holy oils and a third for the Last Supper. The last two were in reduced form, being without Liturgy of the Word. Pope Pius V's reforms in 1570 forbade the celebration of Mass after noon, and the Mass of the Lord's Supper became a morning Mass and remained so until Pope Pius XII's reforms in the 1950s.[16]

The washing of feet that is now part of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, was in use at an early stage without relation to this particular day, and was first prescribed for use on Holy Thursday by a 694 Council of Toledo. By the twelfth century it was found in the Roman liturgy as a separate service. Pope Pius V included this rite in his Roman Missal, placing it after the text of the Mass of the Lord's Supper.[17] He did not make it part of the Mass, but indicated that it was to take place "at a suitable hour" after the stripping of the altars.[18] The 1955 revision by Pope Pius XII inserted the rite into the Mass.

References

  1. General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 19
  2. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 45
  3. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 48
  4. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 50
  5. Exodus 12:1-8 and 12:11-14
  6. Psalms 116:10-11 and {{{3}}}
  7. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 45
  8. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 51
  9. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 35-36
  10. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 37-38
  11. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 38
  12. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 39-40
  13. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 43
  14. Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, 56
  15. Missale Romanum, Feria V in Cena Domini, 41
  16. Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff, An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Liturgical Press, 2007 ISBN 0814658563, 9780814658567), p. 379
  17. Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff, An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Liturgical Press, 2007 ISBN 0814658563, 9780814658567), p. 380
  18. Missale Romanum, Editio Princeps (1570), reproduction published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1998, ISBN 88-209-2547-8

See also

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