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  • Writer's pictureJenny Snarski

Holy Thursday

When Holy Thursday comes to mind, I imagine most of us immediately think of the Last Supper and Jesus’ Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Participating in the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum is such an incredible gift as a Catholic – in whatever ways possible, even if only in memory some years.

One of the lesser-known Holy Week liturgies – and my favorite in recent years due to my job writing for our diocesan newspaper – is the Chrism Mass. The rubrics for the Chrism mass call for it to be held the morning of Holy Thursday, but when difficult for priests to gather with their Bishop on that day it can be held on another date close to Easter.

Our bishop also admits it’s one of his favorite liturgies of the year as the most visible sign of our unity as the Body of Christ as Catholics. Every parish of the diocese is represented for the distribution of the blessed oils and consecrated chrism that are brought back to parish churches for sacramental use throughout the year.

I challenge you to find information about each oil, the difference between the blessing and consecration and how they are used. Our faith is so rich in symbols and the sacraments are God’s most direct channel of grace – it’s very enriching to dive deeper into the elements that make them up.

Another part of the Chrism Mass is the Renewal of Priestly Vows – directly connected to Jesus’ institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist the day before he gave his life for us.

I invite you to take a special moment to pray for priests today – those who have blessed your life as well as priests who have possibly been causes of woundedness in your own life or the lives of loved ones. Pray for our priests to be holy; pray for our bishops to be true shepherds leading us to Christ.

I leave you with a beautiful poem to reflect on the mystery and gift of the Eucharist, the gift foreshadowed by the Passover sacrifice and God’s care of his people as manna in the desert:

            Word of God to earth descending

                 With the Father present still,

            Near His earthly journey’s ending,

                 Hastes His mission to fulfill.


            Well the traitor’s kiss foreknowing,

                 Miracle of love divine,

            See His Hands Himself bestowing

                 In the hallowed Bread and Wine.


            Holy Body, Blood all Precious,

                 Given by Him to be our Food,

            With them both He doth refresh us,

                 Formed like Him of flesh and blood.


            Mighty Victim, earth’s salvation,

                 Heavenly gates unfolding wide,

            Help Thy people in temptation,

                 Feed them from Thy bleeding side.


            Unto Thee the Hidden Manna,

                 Father, Spirit, unto Thee

            Let us raise the loud Hosanna,

                 And adoring bend the knee.


(From St. Basil’s Hymn Book, 1925; written by St. Thomas Aquinas, “Verbum Supernum Prodiens,” with translation by Robert Campbell)



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