First Mass

upper-room1A year ago today, our group of priests concluded our pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a visit to the “Cenacle.”

This is the Upper Room, where our Lord instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, and where the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lady and the Apostles.

pentecost1Centuries ago, the room was turned into a mosque. Now it is under the jurisdiction of the government of Israel, and no religious services are permitted.

The Franciscans have a chapel next door. We concelebrated Holy Mass there together.

In his homily, Archbishop Burke quoted extensively from Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, which the Pope gave us on Holy Thursday, 2003.

At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the paschal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it.

The institution of the Eucharist sacramentally anticipated the events which were about to take place, beginning with the agony in Gethsemane.

john_paul_ii_pencil_drawingOnce again we see Jesus as he leaves the Upper Room, descends with his disciples to the Kidron valley and goes to the Garden of Olives.

Even today that Garden shelters some very ancient olive trees. Perhaps they witnessed what happened beneath their shade that evening, when Christ in prayer was filled with anguish “and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground.”

The blood which shortly before he had given to the Church as the drink of salvation in the sacrament of the Eucharist, began to be shed; its outpouring would then be completed on Golgotha to become the means of our redemption.

By instituting the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ brought about a mysterious “oneness in time” between that hour and the passage of the centuries.

It is very moving for a priest to be at the place where Christ began the Mass and the Priesthood. It reminds us that the Mass and the Priesthood belong completely to Christ.

Archbishop Burke quoted John Paul:

Amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the Eucharist. In a special way it should fill the minister of the Eucharist. By the power coming to him from Christ in the Upper Room, he says: “This is my Body…This is my Blood.” The priest says these words, or rather he puts his voice at the disposal of the One Who spoke these words in the Upper Room.


One thought on “First Mass

  1. and how many laity find the Mass boring (sad)

    and how many clergy feel the need to turn the Mass into a theatrical performance (sadder)

    and how all of us are so often improperly disposed for Mass and reception of the Blessed Sacrament (saddest)

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