Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper

April 05, 2012

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle marking the start of the Triduum, the three final days before Easter and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. 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 explained that the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was a retelling of the story of God’s love for each one of us. “Jesus knew that within one generation, the story of his love and our redemption could be lost, and therefore, he instituted the Eucharist,” he said. The Cardinal referred to Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, noting that in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Lord’s death and Resurrection – the central event of salvation – becomes really present and the work of our redemption is carried out. It is for this reason that the narrative of the Passion and death of Jesus begins with the account of the institution of the Eucharist.

He continued by explaining the significance of the washing of the feet. “The great command, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your strength,’ and the Second Command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ are intended to be reflected in this Liturgy,” he said. “What brings us to the table of the Lord is our love of the Lord, and what brings us to our knees to wash the feet of others is the recognition that we must see in one another Jesus Christ, and thus love one another.”

“Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is a retelling of the story of God’s love, a love for each one of us individually,” said Cardinal Wuerl.

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 600,000 Catholics, 140 parishes and 98 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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