The most sacred days of the Church year, known as the Paschal Triduum, began Thursday evening in the Diocese with the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown. Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated the Mass.
Holy Thursday commemorates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist — the Real Presence of Jesus Christ — along with the Institution of the Ministerial Priesthood and the Commandment to love one another as Christ has first loved us.
The Diocese of Allentown will celebrate the Year of the Real Presence beginning April 11.
“As we begin this Easter Triduum,” said Father Brendon Laroche in his homily, “we celebrate the gifts of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the charity they put forth into the world, so that the whole Church might do those works of mercy.” He is assistant Pastor at the Cathedral.
“Let us ask Our Lord in the Eucharist to empower each one of us, to be sent forth from this place so that we might show that love, that mercy, to everyone we meet, that we might feed those who are hungry, give drinks to those who are thirsty, counsel those who are doubting, pray for the living and the dead, and do all the other works of mercy the Church gives to us….
“So that we know that we are living the love put into our hearts through our baptism to the death and resurrection of Christ, and through the feeding of that divine life we receive from this altar so that, fed by Christ, empowered by His grace, we might love others as he has loved us.”
The Offertory included several baskets of food, donated throughout Lent by parishioners of the Cathedral “to help feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, two of the corporal works of mercy,” said Father Laroche.
The Mass ended with Bishop Schlert carrying the Holy Eucharist, under a handheld canopy, called an ombrellino, in a candlelighted procession around both sides of the church. Then the Eucharist was placed near the front of the church for visitation, with the lights first dimmed and then turned off to experience the darkness before the Resurrection.
Earlier in the Mass, Monsignor Francis Schoenauer, Pastor of the Cathedral, received the oils that were blessed the day before at the Chrism Mass: Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens (for those preparing to receive baptism), and the Sacred Chrism (for children and adults who are baptized and confirmed, and priests who are being ordained).
The Triduum continues today with the Good Friday Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Saturday at the Solemn Easter Vigil Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord.