Maundy Thursday, Chrism Mass and in Coena Domini in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

Maundy Thursday, Chrism Mass and in Coena Domini in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

On Thursday 28 March, the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, H.E. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa,  opened the solemn liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, with the celebration of the Missa in Coena Domini in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

This celebration, which according to the rules of the Status quo is anticipated to the morning, commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, of the ministerial Priesthood and of washing the feet, the gesture with which Jesus shows his disciples the total generosity in giving oneself.

Easter, a mystery difficult to accept

“The sad circumstances of the present,” the Patriarch said in his homily, “paradoxically help us to enter the Easter mystery with greater awareness: it is a “difficult” mystery, not so much because of the difficulty of the dogma, but the difficulty of our welcoming and living it.”

In his words, he invites Christians to reflect on how today’s circumstances are not different from those of the Easter of the Lord. “As then,” he continued, “today, as well, the desire for peace is too easily confused with the need for victory. Like the disciples, we too are bewildered and confused, tempted to sleep. Or, like Peter, we are also tempted to take up the sword, allowing ourselves to be taken over by feelings of violence.”

We have to look to Christ, in the events of Holy Thursday when “He goes through the worst night of his life with even greater love, giving himself completely.”

The good of the world through service

The evocative ritual of washing feet took place in front of the Edicule of the Sepulchre:  Cardinal Pizzaballa washed the feet of six seminarians of the Latin Patriarchate and six Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, making visible the deep sense of the service of love of Jesus – knowing that “it is difficult,” the Patriarch emphasized, “to enter this mystery, to be convinced that it is not through power and force that the good of the world passes, but through service and giving, and washing one another’s feet.”

The renewal of the priestly promises

During this celebration, the priests renewed the priestly promises,  not privately but publicly: there were more than 150 priests of all nationalities in the Basilica. According to the liturgy of the day, the holy oils which will be used during the year for the celebration of the Sacraments of Salvation, were blessed in the Holy Sepulchre.

The liturgy came to an end with the touching and solemn procession for putting back the Most Blessed Sacrament: three times around the Edicule (the third time also included the Stone of Unction, passing in front of Calvary) before entering the Empty Tomb, where the Most Blessed Sacrament  was placed in the tabernacle, on the Lord’s Tomb.

Silvia Giuliano