Friday, 31 March 2017 08:40

Holy Thursday

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One of the most beautiful books ever written on the Eucharist was written by a French writer and diplomat in the 1930s, reminiscing about the Holy Thursday liturgy of his childhood.  It is just under 100 pages and a fairly quick read, so it is not impossible to read it in a couple of sittings. I know a few people who try to read it every Holy Week as a preparation for the beginning of the Triduum and that lovely celebration of the Lord’s Last Supper.

The chapters are divided into, and take their titles from the parts of the Holy Thursday liturgy, giving a short meditation on each aspect:  The Epistle, the Gospel, the Washing of the Feet, the Stripping of the Altars, etc. The sensations and emotions that he remembers attending the services of Holy Week as a child are similar to what we might feel, for it is the same Jesus that is coming to us in the same way.

 

The book opens with an introductory chapter, meditating upon the day in John, chapter 6, that Jesus introduced his disciples to the idea of the Eucharist and many of them could not believe what He was saying and no longer followed him:

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus overwhelmed them with reiterated, insistent, irritating affirmations.  It was necessary to shout it.  The lukewarm people would leave; the timid ones would be troubled:  “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day.”…

Jesus must have seen those who withdrew, and not only these few, poor, hard-hearted Jews, but with them all those who were to be scandalized by this mystery throughout the ages.  Jesus must have numbered among them the philosophers and the scientists who believe only in what they see; and the mockers; the blasphemers who, from century to century, would fight, with unrelenting animosity, the small silent Host, the defenseless Lamb.

When the renegades had withdrawn, Jesus was left alone with the twelve apostles.  Then He asked them this question, and it seems that our ears can still hear His supplicating tone: “Do you also wish to go away?”

Thus, until the end of time, the Creator will plead with His creatures.

The mystery of the Eucharist, stripped down to its core, is that the Eternal, all-powerful God who made the universe, makes Himself vulnerable so that we can consume him as a humble ordinary piece of unleavened bread.  Such a God in so little a Host, which can be so easily stepped on, thrown around, discarded and forgotten. But it is precisely in this way, so insignificant, that he chose it - because it was so humble and accessible.  

In our post-modern world, one witnesses on a daily basis, on one hand so much anxiety, emptiness and depression, and on the other hand unprecedented hatred and indifference of religion and doctrine.  In the midst of it all, Jesus continues to make Himself present in His faithful and in an un-opposing way for anyone who wishes to come and find Him. He wants our love and our friendship, but will never force our hand.

This Lent, if you are looking to strengthen your faith in our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist, or be reassured of how much he loves you and wants to be a part of your life, I highly recommend this very readable, very beautiful reminder of the precious gift we have been given.  He is always there, despite our own misgivings, failings, or weaknesses, to heal our wounds and give us the love that all of us desire.

 

Author: Francois Mauriac

Paperback, 120 pages

Published by Sophia Institute Press

 

You can find it here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/354639.Holy_Thursday 

 

jillstoreyJill Storey lives in Virginia with her husband Patrick and their five sons, who never fail to keep life exciting. Their youngest son, John Paul, was born in 2013 with a rare genetic disorder called TAR Syndrome. He is a constant reminder of God's love and the ability to accomplish great things through Him. Jill graduated with a BA in history from Christendom College.  When she's not doing mom duty, she likes to read books and paint.  You can find her at dulcedomum.wordpress.com and georgiepie.etsy.com.