Diocesan News

Easter Triduum to Begin With Holy Thursday Evening Mass

Jesus at the Last Supper is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Greenlawn. (Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

WINDSOR TERRACE — The sacred Easter Triduum — which marks the end of the Lenten season and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil — begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Held during the evening of Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is regarded as one of the most important Catholic liturgies of the year. It commemorates the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Jesus Christ and the institution of the priesthood.

During the Last Supper, Jesus offered Himself as the Passover sacrifice the night before He died, sharing the bread and wine with the Twelve Apostles and telling them it was indeed His Body and Blood.

One major component of the Mass is typically the Mandatum, better known as the washing of the feet. The washing of the feet was first narrated in John’s Gospel, in which he poured water over His disciples’ feet and instructed them to follow His example. The rite later became a part of the annual Holy Thursday liturgy when bishops and priests began washing several parishioners’ feet during Mass.

However, like last year, the optional feet-washing rite will not occur in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Last April, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, symbolically washed the feet of local first responders — including doctors, nurses, police officers, and firefighters — working on the frontlines as the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold across New York City.

Additionally, the distribution of Holy Communion by chalice will continue to be suspended due to the pandemic.

“Normally, for sure, at the Mass of Holy Thursday, we would receive communion under the two species,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio explained, “but this year that will be limited to just one species [the host].”

He continued, saying, “This way, we don’t have the problem [or] difficulty with the chalices as it would be.”

The host will continue to be received in hand, not on the tongue, following health and safety guidelines.

The Blessed Sacrament would also usually be carried in a solemn procession to the repository at the end of Mass. There will be no procession this year, according to Bishop DiMarzio. Local parishioners may be able to continue the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament well into the night, depending on their church’s schedules and health and safety guidelines.

Bishop DiMarzio’s message to the faithful, ahead of the Easter Triduum, encourages hope.

“We need an uplifting message, and there’s nothing better than the Resurrection because it seemed like all was over,” Bishop DiMarzio said, noting that Jesus died with His ministry completed. “We recognize that He rose from the dead [and] He gave new life, new hope to anyone who would follow Him.”

“When we see that Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered sin and all the things that lead us to sin, temptation,” the bishop added. “We want to appropriate that message for ourselves at Easter, so we can be stronger in the fight against this pandemic and protect everyone’s life.”

Bishop DiMarzio will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, which will air live on NET TV on Thursday, April 1, at 7 pm.