Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Thursday, April 17, 2014
HYATTSVILLE, Md. – 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.
“From time immemorial, peoples, communities, gatherings of people self-defined as a nation, have created monuments – memorials – so that the next generation might know of their struggles, their joys, their accomplishments, their history – their identity,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his homily. “Monuments, memorials, commemorations, anniversaries are all intended to ensure our identity. All are done – lest we forget. Lest we forget that it is in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we find our identity.”
The cardinal told the congregation that the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was a retelling of the story of God’s love for each one of us. “By his passion and death, by his self-offering on the cross, Jesus would show us his limitless love for the Father and for us. In his blood he would wash away all of our sins, all of our failure, everything that would keep us from God.”
“Jesus knew that within one generation the story of his love and our redemption could be lost. Thus, he instituted the Eucharist,” Cardinal Wuerl explained. “Lest we ever feel alone, distant from God, alien to his presence or apart from his embrace, Jesus offers us himself to be as near to us, as real to us, as close to us as the bread and wine now consecrated and changed into his very Body and Blood.”
The Cardinal also explained that the washing of the feet, like the Eucharist itself, is intended to help us 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 said.
He challenged everyone gathered to “think of all of the ways in which we 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.”
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 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.