Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

1. Do this in memory of me. In this one command, Jesus instituted two sacraments of the Church- Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. These two sacraments are intertwined in such a way that if there is not one, then there is not the other. Unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we have no life within us (see John 5:53). But without the Holy Priesthood, we cannot celebrate the Eucharist.
2. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus Christ is present in the Most Holy Eucharist. His presence is not merely recalled, but is actual. Since the Eucharist is indeed Christ, we recognize that the Eucharist is source of all grace in the Christian life. We depend on the Eucharist not just because we recognize Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread, but because we need Him for our food. For us to achieve the glory marked out for us, Jesus Christ must live in us. God is not content with feeding our minds and hearts with His words, but He has generously provided to feed our bodies with His Word- Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that our whole selves may be prepared for the Glory of the Resurrection.
3. The Eucharist is more than the source of all grace. Likewise it is the summit of our Christian worship. Jesus Christ is our True High Priest who has offered Once for All, the sacrifice of Himself on the Wood of the Cross. Yet in the celebration of the Eucharist, we are present for and participate in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. By the Eucharist, Jesus has made it possible for us to be witnesses of His Passion Death and Resurrection. In an Unbloody manner, the Eucharist connects us to the greatest event in the History of the World- the Paschal Mystery of our Lord. Since Jesus is truly the One offering and the One offered, we rightly say that the Eucharist is the highest form of praise, adoration, and worship. Other devotions and practices are beneficial and commendable, but nothing equals the power and majesty of the Holy Mass because it is the prayer of Jesus Himself.
4. In order to continue our participation in this Divine Mystery, Jesus instituted the ministry which we call the Holy Priesthood, or the Presbyterate. As Jesus chose Apostles from the midst of His disciples, the Lord also chooses men to be priests to exercise authority and power in the celebration of the Sacraments. Let us not be amazed that God chooses to work in such a manner. Jesus uses Bread and Wine to become His Precious Body and Blood. Our Lord has chosen to use human agency for the procreation and population of the world. As Saint Teresa of Avila said Christ has no body now on earth but yours. God chooses men as the sacrament of His presence. These men are chosen to offer the sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments in persona Christi capitis- that is, in the person of Christ the Head. As priests, we do not celebrate sacraments on our own but rather we are instruments of Jesus for the benefit of the Body of Christ the Church.
5. Although the Ministerial Priesthood is a true share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, it does not exist for itself nor to lift its members on high above other Christians. The priesthood is for service to Jesus and service to His Church. When I say the words This is my body which will be given up for you, Christ is speaking through me. The words refer to the Consecration of the Gift of Bread. But I think they also refer to the priest. I mean that we too must offer up ourselves for others in union with Christ.
6. These days, most people view the priesthood, and in fact the whole of Christian faith from the point of view of lack. That is, many think "priesthood is not getting married," "marriage is not being free to go with anyone," "obedience keeps one from doing what they want to do," or "holiness is not having fun." In truth, doing God’s will is freeing. Freedom to commit one’s whole life, free to be what we are supposed to be.
7. This freedom is only possible because of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is made present each time we celebrate the Eucharist. And to think that the Eucharist and the Priesthood are pure gifts from God. All we have to do to receive is open our hands and our hearts.

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