It is Holy Thursday, and for the first time since I became Catholic more than three decades ago, I will not be able to be physically present at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic mandates to “shelter in place” and our bishop, like all bishops across the United States, suspending public masses.
So we will gather again virtually tonight as we commemorate and make present again the Last Supper, at which Jesus instituted the priesthood and the Most Holy Eucharist as He had His last meal with His followers before He went out to the Garden of Gethsemane in order to prepare Himself for His passion by uniting Himself in prayer with God, His (and our) Father.
This is why the ancient tradition of processing the Blessed Sacrament from the main altar to an “Altar of Repose” occurs at the end of the Holy Thursday Mass, and why the faithful would “watch an hour” (or two) until midnight alongside our Lord in the “garden” of our hearts and minds as we prepare for accompanying our Lord throughout His Passion and death on Good Friday.
The fact that we are unable to gather for this beautiful liturgy could be very discouraging and disheartening, and perhaps could create frustration, annoyance and maybe even anger in our hearts and minds.
But let me remind you.
Discouragement, anger and frustration are the tools of Satan.
HOW THE MASTER OF DEATH IS TRYING TO STEAL YOUR JOY
Very simply, Satan is trying to steal your joy.
By getting you to focus upon the fact that simply because we are unable to physically be together as a community and receive Holy Communion tonight, that this must mean that what is being commemorated is not “real.” And then Satan uses that to suggest to us that this means we can then disregard the commandment given to us by Jesus to us at the Last Supper– “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34.
(Just as an aside, Holy Thursday is also referred to as “Maundy Thursday” because Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “mandate” or “command” which is what Jesus gave to us–to love one another as He has loved us.)
But Jesus knew the wiles and strategems of Satan. So, at the end of the meal, in order to ensure that we, His disciples, will know without a doubt HOW to love one another, Jesus does the unimaginable–HE, the Master, washes the feet of His disciples! And then to make certain that we can not misunderstand, Jesus says,“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13:16-17
And what is Satan’s response to the CLEAR mandate and example of Jesus?
These are all LIES.
Satan is lying as he tries to steal your joy.
Don’t let Satan win.
Don’t let him steal your joy simply because we can’t physically be present at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening.
No, let us rebuke Satan alongside St Michael and the angels and saints, and be willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to bind ourselves together spiritually tonight and throughout the Sacred Triduum.
THREE THINGS WE CAN DO
- Begin by making an Examination of Conscience and then making as perfect an Act of Contrition as you can.
- Make a Spiritual Communion in the moments after the priest celebrating the Mass physically receives Jesus. And TRUST that Jesus–Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity–will come into your soul as well as all the graces that God desires for you this night.
- Be willing to accept and OFFER UP all of our sufferings we are experiencing right now–anything that we do not like, did not choose, cannot change and do not understand–and let us bring them to the altar of repose tonight and offer them up as we pray alongside Jesus in the Garden and prepare to accompany Him throughout His Passion.
Make a resolution NOW, that you will NOT allow Satan to steal your joy during this Sacred Triduum.
Rather, resolve to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to remain beside Jesus, Mary, and all your brother and sisters in the Communion of Saints and to remain faithful to what we know IS real–Jesus present to us in His sacraments and present to us in each and every moment of our lives–so that TOGETHER we tell the Master of Death, NOT TODAY!!
Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic author, speaker and mentor, and host of the Say Yes to Holiness podcast. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama where she strives to live out a life of authentic discipleship in the pursuit of holiness while empowering, teaching and accompanying others in striving to do the same.
If you want to learn more about how to embrace the life God created you for, then plan to Christina during the week of April 20th for the SAY YES TO HOLINESS TODAY Live Masterclass Event. To get more information, send a direct message to @sayyestoholiness on Facebook, or send an email to: email@example.com.
Additionally, you can Text to Join the Say Yes to Holiness email list by texting SAYYESTOHOLINESS to 66866 or sign up for my weekly newsletter here. And make sure to listen to the Say Yes to Holiness podcast and learn more about Christina’s ministry efforts at: www.sayyestoholiness.com.