We are approaching a most unusual Holy Week in the U.S. Typically, many of us regular church-goers would spend an extra day if not Thursday, Friday, and Saturday or Sunday in church. This will not happen this year as most churches, including mine, are closed due to COVID-19.
One of my favorite Masses is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion and the establishment of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It also is recognized as the institution of the priesthood.
The following photo is of the Upper Room in Jerusalem where we remember this event. The Upper Room was also where the Holy Spirit alighted upon the apostles after Pentecost. The current building is not the original but erected on the site of what is believed to be the correct location.
The celebration of Jesus’ Passion along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem began in the late fourth-century. Churches across the world followed by reenacting the Passion in their communities.
But, throughout history, and across the world, restrictions periodically have been enacted in celebrating Holy Week due to political upheavals, wars, religious persecution, illness, and plagues. Other communities had or have limited clergy to preside over services. Where Masses are infrequent, communion services are held since consecration must be performed by a priest.
Such was the situation with Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin when she arrived in the U.S. with her companions in 1840. Services were not regularly available for those in the Midwest. As with many areas at that time, the sisters’ chaplain, Father Buteux, traveled throughout the area, and therefore was not always at their little church to offer Mass for the sisters.
We all tend to take things for granted until they are threatened. Our health, mobility, home, employment, access to clean drinking water, and so on are not recognized as gifts until they are withdrawn from us. Hopefully, when life returns to “normal,” we will be eternally grateful, for at least awhile.
In the meantime, we are fortunate to view services online and on television, such as EWTN. The priests at my church, St. Peter, send regular emails through Flocknotes and links where we can see them saying daily Mass. Our parish is live on Facebook. You can look for your parish and diocese online through Google and Facebook, or feel free to view my parish or diocese, (Diocese of Rockford, Illinois). Our community would love for you to join us.
(The Gift of the Eucharist is remembered in the fifth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. For an easy way to learn how to pray the rosary, see my book The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, available from Amazon.com, ACTA Publications, and my website.)