Thursday, April 09, 2009


One of the difficult points for modern day Christians is the association of Holy Communion or the Eucharist with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the Last Supper, Jesus is seen to be offering Himself up, body and blood, under the appearance of bread and wine, __before__ His death on the cross.

In the liturgy, however, the Triduum is offered as one. On Holy Thursday, the Last Supper is remembered. Interestingly enough, the Holy Thursday Mass is offered during the evening. The breviary or Liturgy of Hours says that the evening prayers are skipped if one participates in the Mass of of Lord's Supper. As far as I know, this is unique. Another interesting point -- which is a bit jarring for people who are used to the rhythm of the Mass -- at the "end" of the liturgy of the Holy Thursday Mass, we don't hear the priest say, "The Mass is ended, go in peace..."

On Friday, there is no Mass, but there is a service. Traditionally, this service is offered at 3pm, the hour of Mercy, but as a compromise with our pagan work-worshipping culture, the Good Friday service is often offered during the evenings on Friday. Our modern calendar and conventions separate the two days of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, but the Jewish way of reckoning days has both coming up on the same day. The start of the Jewish day begins at sunset and ends on the next day's sunset. The Last Supper, a passover meal is held at the beginning of the new day (in the evening). Our Lord spends the night in the Garden of Gethsemane in prayer, and He asks the Father if it is possible that the __cup__ might pass from Him. Of course, the Son will do the Father's will. Jesus is arrested, sent to the Sanhedrin and passed on to Pilate for sentencing in morning. After being scourged, Jesus is to carry His cross to Golgotha. At noon, the skies darken, and at 3pm, Jesus says, "it is finished." The passover meal is finished, and completed in the same day.

Jesus is placed in the tomb before the start of the Sabbath. Jesus has died before the Sabbath, the first of three days by Jewish reckoning. The Sabbath passes, the second day, and evening comes. Some time during the night of the third day, Jesus has resurrected and left the tomb. Easter Vigil, the highest point of the Catholic liturgy is celebrated on that third day, on Saturday evening, and this completes the Triduum.

This reference to liturgy is not the only way to show the unity of the Last Supper with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I've alluded to another way by placing emphasis on the __cup__. However, in this case, someone else has done the hard work, and so I have the pleasure of providing a link to


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