Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Washes the feet of 12 people, as Christ washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper
April 2, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today marked the start of the Triduum, which is the final three days before Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. During the Mass, the cardinal washed the feet of 12 people, just as Christ washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper.
In his homily the cardinal talked about the importance of photographs because they allow us to be present, all over again, to things that happened in the past. “Tonight is the Church’s celebration of a great memorial that allows us to reflect on something that happened many, many years ago – the last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist….But there is no memory or photo or image or painting of a previous event that can actually make that event be present. In the Eucharist, the remembrance has the power to make what is recalled to mind actually, really, sacramentally but truly, be present,” he said.
The cardinal noted that because Jesus knew that within one generation the story of his love and our redemption could be lost, he instituted the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, “We do more than listen to and hear the account of Christ’s final hours. We actually become present, or rather the events are made present to us,” the cardinal said.
“Tonight as we approach the altar of the Lord and do so in this memorial of God’s love for his people, his love for us, we also rejoice in the recognition that God loves each one of us. We can say with assurance that God loves me and I have actually encountered him – met him,” the cardinal said. “The great devotion we have for and exceptional care we show the Blessed Sacrament comes out of our profound faith that Jesus Christ is truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity after the consecration of the bread and wine.”
“But Jesus’ pledge that he would remain with us until the end of time is lived out not just in the Sacrament of the Eucharist but in the works of love and service that reflect the very action of Christ himself.” Referencing the washing of the feet of twelve people that would occur after the homily, the cardinal said, “The washing of the feet, like the Eucharist itself, is intended to help you and me once again hear the story of God’s love. Lest we forget that a part of God’s love for us and our love for God is our love for one another, Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles. Everything is love. This action simply reminds us that God loves each of us and in that love he calls us to love one another.”
He challenged the faithful present at the Mass to think of ways in which they are capable of showing love for others. “Maybe not as dramatically as washing their feet but in a way that truly shows we care: by a word of forgiveness, by a gesture of welcome, by a sign of caring.”
“Then as we come to the altar and step forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ with a profound act of faith, let us renew in our hearts the realization that Christ who washed the feet of his disciples is present to wash away anything that would keep us from being one with him or hinder us from sharing in the joy of his new and eternal life.”
After Mass, the Eucharist was moved in a solemn procession to a chapel for silent adoration, and the altar and sanctuary were stripped of all ornamentation in preparation of Good Friday, the day Christ died on the cross. Mass is not held in Catholic churches on Good Friday.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi