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March 24, 2005

Novi et Aeterni Testamenti: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The Last Supper Our Lord shared with His Apostles in the Upper Room on the first Holy Thursday marked the beginning of the New and Eternal Testament of the New Moses, Jesus Christ. The first Moses, a prefiguring of Our Lord, had led the Chosen People out of Egypt, where they had been enslaved for over four centuries. The new Moses, Our Lord, used the occasion of this Last Supper, in which He offers us His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to lead us out of our enslavement to sin and eternal death, to make it possible for us to pass over from the desert journey of life to the eternal Canaan, Heaven. The priesthood of heredity of the Old Dispensation is superseded by the priesthood and victimhood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which He entrusts to mere men until the end of the world to be the instruments through which the graces He won for us on Calvary are channeled into human souls. This night truly marks the replacement of the old wineskins by the new wineskin of Faith in the Son of God made Man, Who came to earth precisely to undergo His Passion and Death for our salvation.

The Chosen People ate the manna in the desert to fed their bodies. We, however, have the true Bread came down from Heaven to feed us, Our Lord Jesus Christ. By virtue of the events of the Easter Triduum which we enter into on Maundy Thursday, He left us with all of the supernatural helps necessary to follow Him on a daily basis, to resist temptation, to grow in holiness--and by doing so to provide an example to the world of fidelity to His Holy Cross. The Mass, the perfect prayer, which was consummated on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday, provides us with an opportunity every day of the year except on Good Friday to be present as His one Sacrifice to the Father in Spirit and in Truth as it is offered in an unbloody manner at the hands of an alter Christus. We are truly present at Calvary during each Mass we are privileged to hear.

Our love of the Sacrament of the Eucharist instituted at the Last Supper is not confined to the Mass, however. Just as Our Lord spent nine months as the prisoner of the tabernacle of Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb, so does He remain the prisoner of each tabernacle in every Catholic Church until the end of time by His Real Presence in the Eucharist. We have the opportunity immediately after the procession on Maundy Thursday to worship Our Lord in the repository, calling to mind the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane He underwent this night prior to His arrest, trial, imprisonment, scourging at the pillar, and crowning with thorns. Yes, that opportunity is available to us every day, with the exception of the time after Midnight on Good Friday until after the Easter Vigil Mass. But the night of Maundy Thursday is the night above all over nights to keep company with Our Lord in His Real Presence in the Tabernacle of Reposition.

Which one of us would not make the time to keep one of our loved ones company as he or she was about to undergo some terrible ordeal? Haven't we made time in our lives to comfort those we loved who were about to undergo surgery, as well as those in our families who were on the verge of dying? Does it not make sense for us to keep company with Our Lord on the actual date of the first Maundy Thursday, yes, the night in which the very thought of coming into contact with our sins caused Him to sweat droplets of His Most Precious Blood?

Love grows the more it has contact with its object. That is why the rush of new love impels an engaged couple to spend as much time as they can with each other. That is why some married couples, who have cooperated with the graces available to them in the Sacrament of Matrimony, never tire of each other's presence, growing in mutual love and respect as the years progress. But no human love is the equal of the unsurpassed love that God showed for us when He suffered to redeem our sinful human nature. And we are to have a love for no one human being, not even a spouse, which surpasses our love for Christ and His Holy Church. For we can love no other person authentically if our love is not firmly anchored in an unshakable love for the Blessed Trinity.

Our Lord's love for us is such that He held back nothing during the events which began during His Passion on Maundy Thursday. Can we not do the same for Him, developing a continuing, life long habit of visiting Him in His Real Presence? If we want to spend all eternity with Him in Heaven, is it not a good idea to show Him how much we love Him by spending time with Him now on earth, by offering up our prayers and petitions for our loved ones and ourselves, by praying fervently to Our Lady as slaves who are totally consecrated to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart that we may let the rays of her Divine Son's Sacred Heart help us become instruments of mercy in a merciless world?

Although we were not present with Saints Peter, James, and John as they slept through the first Holy Hour with Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have the opportunity, as noted earlier, today, Maundy Thursday, to keep company with them and Him following the conclusion of Holy Mass tonight. Our Lord sweated droplets of His Most Precious Blood as He contemplated fearfully coming into contact in His Sacred Humanity with the very antithesis of His Sacred Divinity: sin. He saw the sins of every human being from the beginning until the end of time as He was comforted by an angel during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He saw each one of our sins. Unlike the three Apostles who were taken up by Our Lord to Mount Tabor as He was transfigured in glory before their eyes, we must not fall asleep as we keep Our Lord company during the hour of His Agony in the Garden. We must meditate on the horror of our own sins and on the love Our Lord wanted to show us in fulfilling the Father’s will by paying back the blood debt of our own sins on the wood of the Holy Cross tomorrow, Good Friday.

T he new and eternal passover, inaugurated on the first Maundy Thursday nearly 2,000 years ago, enters us deep into the Lord's Passion. It is time for us now to withdraw from the mundane and profane. It is time for us to concentrate on how precious the salvation of each one of our souls is to Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is time for us to let Him lead us out of the wilderness of our own lives, so frequently characterized by inattention to a concern for our spiritual growth. It is time for realize that without Him we can nothing, without His Cross we have no hope for life. Rejoicing in the institution of the priesthood and Eucharist, resolving to serve each other with the humility which motivated Our Lord to wash the feet of His Apostles, pledging to be ever more conscious of our need for spiritual reform by the use of the Sacred Tribunal of Penance, we must enter into this Easter Triduum in 2005 full of gratitude. Gratitude for having been made in the image and likeness of the Triune God. Gratitude for having been redeemed on the wood of the Cross. Gratitude for having been brought to the baptismal font so that we could have the gift of the true Faith impressed on our immortal souls, a gift that would not have been possible had not Our Lord left the Upper Room after the Last Supper to do the Father's will.

Protected by Our Lady, may we do the Father's will for us right now: to let the new Moses once more lead us out from a world of death and sin to the life of true peace and joy that comes only from being made anew each day by the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, extended to us every day save one by the true Church in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the fullest expression of which is found only in the glorious Immemorial Mass of Tradition.

A blessed Easter Triduum to you all as we continue to pray fervently for a miracle to save the life of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo as she undergoes her own passion this Holy Week in 2005. We pray for all of those who are responsible for starving and dehydrating her to the point of death. We pray for all of those in civil authority who believe that they are powerless to do anything to help her. And we pray that Our Lady will continue to comfort Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schindler as they suffer the torment of the injustice that is being visited upon their daughter, a true victim-soul of Modernity. Our Lady stands with them in their own agony and passion just as He kept close to her Divine Son following His arrest this very night and stood so valiantly beneath His Holy Cross on Good Friday.


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