Posted by: geolocke | 2014/04/18

Holy Thursday – The Last Hour

Another aspect of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is that it isn’t really a Mass, but just the beginning of one long Liturgical celebration that last three days; Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

On Thursday, after the washing of the feet and the partaking of the Eucharist, something special happens. The Priest(s), Deacon(s) and Altar servers remove the Blessed Host from the Tabernacle and process to another place of repose within the church. There it will remain for Adoration by the faithful until Midnight when it will be removed and placed in safe-keeping within the Sacristy.

After removal of the Sacred Host from the Tabernacle and the procession, the Deacon(s) return to clear the Altar. There is no music now, only the occasional hushed whisper and the shuffling of feet, the creek of the kneelers and the opening and closing of doors are heard. This in one of my one of my most favorite personal times with the Lord, and one of the most powerfully jarring reminders of what is yet to come in our re-presenting of Christ’s story.

For the un-initiated, Catholics believe that Our Lord is present in a real way in the Consecrated Bread, which is the Sacred Host. This Sacred Host remains with in the tabernacle adjacent to the Altar. That is why we kneel in respect when we enter the Church and prepare to sit, because we are in the real presence of our Lord whenever we enter the Church, just as surely as the Apostles and Disciples were in the presence of The Lord as they traveled with him and ate with Him.

The Sacred Host is always present in the Tabernacle throughout the year except during the Triduum when it is removed for exposition and adoration. It is our constant reminder that the Lord is ever-present and ever near.  On Holy Thursday, after Exposition and Adoration has begun, I like to stay and witness the clearing of the Altar, then I leave for a little supper.

I return about 11pm and remain in Adoration for the Final hour. It is rarely crowded at this time. Just a few witnesses remaining to watch and wait and pray. Finally the hour is here. The priest approaches the place of reposition, extinguishes the candles and removed the Sacred Host from our presence.

This is one of the most powerful moments for me of the whole Easter Story. For me, this represents the time when Jesus was arrested by the guards and removed from the presence of the Apostles and his Disciples. For me it is a very powerful, emotional experience every time I witness it.  There are just a few of us left by then, just the same as so many years ago in a garden outside the walls of Jerusalem.  My eyes always well up with tears and there is a tightness in my throat.

How can I describe this feeling? It could be likened to the feeling of the bright sun warming your face on a cold winter day, only to have it suddenly hidden by a cloud and you realize just how cold the surrounding world really is. That really does it no justice, but it’s the best I can come up with at the moment. For someone who is used to always having that presence there, who is always the one leaving that presence, to suddenly have that presence removed from you is a shock and it always leave me just a little bit shaken.

Friday is here, and our lord is taken from us to be falsely tried and crucified.



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