Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
It’s Holy Thursday. The sacristy is filled with the scent of Easter lilies, delivered to the church just a few hours ago. Our preparations for this solemn celebration of the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist are simple and straightforward. Since this Mass is offered without the usual full church, we arrange the high altar for the celebration ad orientem, priest and people journeying toward the Lord.
The gesture of the Washing of Feet is omitted. Yet a sense that we few assembled here in the church are here on behalf of the whole parish is powerful. There is an intensity, even a fierceness, present in our prayer, amplified by the narrative of the ordination of the apostles to priestly service. I ask those assembled to dedicate their intentions for this Mass to the joyful discernment of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life on the part of our young parishioners, through the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro.
A religious vocation can seem all too fragile. There are tremendous distractions that drown out the deep desire of the heart to spend oneself entirely for the Church, in the loving union in service to Jesus’ Body. How can a young person in our day recognize and respond to this call from the heart from the Creator? It seems impossible at times. There is in our world what feels like ambient poison that stifles the seed before it is able to germinate, and sterilizes spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.
Yet seen from the perspective of faith, this fragility and precariousness in the call to a vocation testifies to the Providential work of the Divine Gardener in creating fruitfulness where we see only thorns and rocky soil. Each of us called to this consecrated service recognizes turning points in our vocation story: a chance meeting, a strange coincidence, a passing word or phrase that the memory doesn’t surrender. These turning points, unremarkable at the time, acquire great significance in retrospect, and often prove decisive in ways we had never imagined. The magnalia Dei aren’t always accomplished in broad daylight for all to see. However ordinary and placid our vocations may be, it is always the case that they are the result of a special work of God. Gratias agimus tibi.
A tiny group of faithful are present in the church on this Holy Thursday, our church lit only by the evening sun. Together, we turn towards the crucifix mounted over the altar and lift our hearts to him, begging for the fruitfulness that will bring glory to his name and salvation to souls. After receiving his Precious Body and Blood, we chant the Pange lingua, dispersing to our homes in silence, confident in our hope that our prayers are just the sort of small, weak things that the Lord uses to accomplish wonders in the hearts of his people.