Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, executive editor of The Anchor, the official newspaper of the Fall River diocese; and Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Boston archdiocese
- The Pilot
- The Anchor
- “Entering the Kingdom,” Fr. Roger Landry, Editorial in The Anchor (April 22, 2011)
- “Following Jesus’ Example,” Fr. Roger Landry, Homily for Holy Thursday (March 28, 2002)
- “Our Crucifed, Eucharistic Lord,” Fr. Roger Landry, Homily for Good Friday (March 25, 2005)
- “Meditation Notes for the Seven Last Words,” Fr. Roger Landry, Priestly Day of Recollection (April 14, 2003)
Today’s topics: The Liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday
A summary of today’s show: The Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Celebration of the Passion provide Scot, Susan, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy with fodder for a spiritually fruitful discussion of Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
1st segment: We are at Holy Thursday. On today’s show, since we are in the height of our liturgical year, we won’t discuss the news as we do on most Thursdays, but we will discuss the great liturgies of the “Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper” tonight and also the “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion” tomorrow on Good Friday. We are discussing both liturgies today since tomorrow WQOM will cover the Good Friday liturgy directly from Hanceville, AL during this hour.
Scot asked Susan what experiencing the Triduum means to her? She said Holy Thursday is her favorite day of the year because of the Eucharist. She has been blessed this Lent with the Magnificat and the Holy Father’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy WeeK” and the Stations of the Cross that he wrote as Cardinal Ratzinger. She shared a haiku sent to her by a friend: “He knew He must leave/So he found a way to stay/The Holy Eucharist”.
2nd segment: Scot said on Holy Thursday that there is no daily Mass today on the Church’s calendar, but there is only the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Fr. Roger said while every Mass brings us to the upper room, on Holy Thursday it brings us in a significant way to that time and place. The liturgy tonight also doesn’t end tonight, but continues through the Good Friday liturgy and finally ends with the Easter Vigil. As a priest, it is the anniversary of all priests because Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper. The Mass brings him back to the reasons he became a priest.
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Scot said during the Mass, the celebrant washes the feet of people who are present imitating Christ washing the feet of the apostles. Gregory said to him it signifies the priest taking the role of a servant. As Cardinal Sean said inthe Chrism Mass, we sometimes forget this role of the priest as the servant. They are taking the last place as Jesus took the last place.
Scot said the Holy Father talked about the washing of the feet in his book. He said Jesus washes the feet because baptism cleanses the rest of the person in preparation for the wedding feast of the Lamb. Susan said Jesus frequently says that we must love one another, but here He is emphasizing that we must match love with our actions. We must love not just as an emotion, but to love one another as He loves us.
In the Pope’s book, he focuses on how, unlike Adam who grasped at divinity, Christ did not grasp at His divinity, taking the form of a servant. The Lord came down from heaven precisely to die on the cross. This act symbolizes His whole ministry, to cleanse us and to serve us. He takes a pssage from a passage from the Book of Revelations in which the redeemed have their robes washed and made white by the blood of the Lamb. Fr. Roger said he hadn’t seen it as a sacrament of the whole of Christ’s life, as the Pope says. We ourselves are cleansed through the full depth of his love. It helps us to understand just how Christ loved us all the way to the end.
Scot said this begins Christ’s hour, his time. Why is this the beginning? Fr. Roger said that St. John uses two notions of time. One is seconds and minutes, but the other is a description of a significant moment or occasion. When this is his time, it is the occasion of the highlight of Christ’s life. This hour starts here and ends at the Cross. Christ’s hour is our hour too to enter into and live in our whole lifetime.
Gregory said that when Jesus talks about being the master who was the feet, it shows him that he doesn’t have the ability to love one another as Christ loves us on his own ability and merit, but only through the love of Christ can he have the strength to take this last place.
Susan said in her parish,whose church can hold 700 people, will be filled to capacity. She said it is very touching to her to see her own pastor wash the feet of the people.
How does Fr. Roger choose the people to wash their feet and what’s the experience of doing it? He said pastors have a lot of latitude for how they do it. He said the most experiencing is washing the feet of prisoners in jail on retreats. The ceremony is supposed to be the commemoration of Christ calling the apostles, not just any disciples, so he always choose male altar servers so that it might be an occasion for them to hear a potential call to the priesthood. The Church says that it should be men to symbolize the apostles and the priesthood.
At first a lot of people reject the request to take part, but the Gospel itself talks about how Peter resisted. When he brings it up, people often reconsider in the example of St. Peter. People are often embarrassed and shy and don’t think they’re worthy to be called out in front of other, but it’s the example of how we are not worthy, but made worthy by Christ.
This Mass doesn’t end with a final blessing, but the Eucharist is processed to a chapel or other place of reservation where people can stay and pray with Christ as if accompanying Him into the Garden of the Agony. Gregory said it’s a beautiful opportunity to continue the Triduum in a moment to be with the Lord, before He is taken from us on Good Friday.
Susan said in her parish they sing Night Prayer at 10pm and the church stays open until Midnight. Fr. Roger encourages his parishioners to stay in some prayer with the Lord. He usually has about 30 people who stay with him through midnight and groups from about 30 parishes visit while taking part in the devotion of the seven altars. Fr. Roger said Pope Benedict this focused on the importance of the adoration after the liturgy. In His prayer in the garden, Christ teaches us not to be afraid of death or suffering, but to say yes to the will of God.
Scot said what stands out for him is how the apostles fell asleep despite being asked by Christ to pray with him. Fr. Roger said that while there’s a physical sleepiness—although it’s hard to fall asleep while on your knees—but there’s also a spiritual sleepiness, an insensitivity to evil in the world as well as the good the Lord calls us to. We push it aside, but Lent is meant to help us wake up to the full reality of God’s love.
3rd segment: Now moving to talk about the Good Friday liturgy, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, a continuation of the Triduum. The Mass readings come from the Gospel of John. Fr Roger said the Church uses John every Good Friday and rotates among the other three Gospels on Palm Sunday. Matthew, Mark, and Luke share many of the same details, but John also strikes deeper into the mystery. It includes that dialogue with Pontius Pilate, which includes Pilate’s skeptical “What is truth?” On Good Friday, we discover anew that Truth has a name, Jesus Christ.
Susan said the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus is startling. She said Pope Benedict in his stations of the cross says that Pilate is not entirely evil, because he looks for a way to release the innocent man, but lets his concern for his station and what others think steer his ultimate action. We can ask ourselves what we would do if we were there as a fruitful meditation.
Gregory said as a parent that it’s important to explain to the children the significance of the event and break down the story for them and help them understand the meaning of Jesus’ death and the ultimate victory over death. It’s not a sad ending, it’s just the middle of the story, so they can look forward to Easter.
He said that he’s struck by on Palm Sunday, we as the congregation are the ones who shout out “Crucify him!” Where would we be in that crowd if we were there?
Jesus gives His last homily from the cross. Fr. Roger said we are told to put on the mind of Christ and in this hour, these 7 last words show us how He really enters into our humanity. He prays for us, asking the Father to forgive us because we don’t really know who Jesus is.
Then He prayed for a sinner in particular, the Good Thief. He was the one lost sheep Christ went to find.
His 3rd word was to give Mary to John and through him to all of us.
His 4th word shows his anguish, with the Psalm in which He calls out to God as he is forsaken, but the Psalm ends hopeful.
His 5th word shows how He thirst for us.
His 6th word says it is finished, His mission is accomplished.
His 7th word, He prays to the Father in heaven. He entrusted everything to the Father.
They help us enter into His mind and His heart.
Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said,
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”
So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.
The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.
Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, “
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
“Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
“What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.
4th segment: One of the powerful elements of the Good Friday liturgy is the veneration of the cross. When Scot attended at St. Paul in Cambridge, he remembers waiting in line, singing, “This is the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world. Come let us worship” Susan said as the celebrant processes forward with the cross, singing with response. She notes that it is not just a piece of wood. It is a crucifix, wood on which hangs the corpus of Christ. Scot said it makes it personal to go forward and kiss the cross.
Gregory said as he waits his turn to venerate, he considers what are his crosses in life and how he could love the way he should. Scot said he thinks about his sins that added to the burden of Christ’s cross.
Fr. Roger said the Church recommends we genuflect before the crucifix. We usually only genuflect before the Eucharist, except on Good Friday. Many people take off their shoes, like Moses took off his sandals before the burning bush. On a spiritual level, he encourages people to think of the unbelievable pain Christ would have endured on that weapon. But the cross is not so much a sign of pain, but is a sign of love. It is the greatest sign of love, more than Cupid or a wedding ring. The cross is the sign by which we first receive the Lord’s love for us in baptism. He encourages people to come slowly, not in a rush. To venerate with love, with the same devotion Mary would have had when she received her Son’s body from the cross.
Scot said the intercessory prayers are quite powerful. At St. Paul’s, Cambridge, they sang these prayers that ask for special grace for the Church, the Pope, the Clergy and Laity, those preparing for Baptism, for Unity of Christians, for the Jewish People, for those that don’t believe in Christ, for those that don’t believe in God, for those in public office, and for those in special need. Especially the prayer for Jewish people is poignant because we recognize they are our elder brothers in faith and that Jesus and Mary and apostles were themselves Jewish.
Susan recalled that the prayer for the Jews changed in recent years to make clear that the Church is not anti-Semitic. As in John’s Gospel, it is not just the Jews who crucified Christ, but as we all cry out, Crucify Him!, it is we who crucify Him.
In the prayer for unbelievers, the prayer says that sometimes people don’t believe because of the way that believers act.