Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Thursday in Rome

At 6:00pm local time this evening (12:00noon EDT), Holy Thursday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis presided over the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Altar of the Chair inside the Vatican Basilica, thereby beginning the celebration of the Pascal Triduum.

The entrance procession moved rom the Altar of the Confessions to the Altar of the Chair, passing by the side of the Altar of Saint Joseph.  During the celebration, as a result of the health crisis that is currently in effect, the ritual of the washing of feet was not observed, neither was there an offertory procession.  In addition, the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose was also omitted.

The images of the Salus Populi Romani and the Crucifix of San Marcello were placed inside the Vatican Basilica for this occasion.

Unscripted Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass of the Lord's Supper

The Eucharist, service, anointing.

The reality we are experiencing today, in this celebration: the Lord who wants to stay with us in the Eucharist. And we always become the Lord's tabernacles, we bring the Lord with us ... to the point that he himself tells us that if we do not eat his body and drink his blood, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the mystery of the bread and wine, of the Lord who is with us, in us, within us.

Service. That gesture which is a condition for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Serve, yes, everyone. But the Lord, in that exchange of words he had with Peter (cf Jn 13: 6-9), helped him to understand that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven we must let the Lord serve us, the Servant of the Lord is also our servant. And this is difficult to understand. If I do not let the Lord be my servant, let the Lord wash me, make me grow, forgive me, I will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

And the priesthood. Today I would like to be close to priests, to all priests, from the most-recently ordained to the Pope. We are all priests. The bishops, all ... We are anointed, anointed by the Lord; anointed to do the Eucharist, anointed to serve.

Today there is no Chrism Mass - I hope we can have it before Pentecost, otherwise we will have to postpone it until next year - but I cannot let this Mass pass by without remembering the priests. Priests who offer their lives for the Lord, priests who are servants. In these days more than sixty have died here in Italy, caring for the sick in hospitals, along with doctors and nurses ... They are the saints next door, priests who gave their lives by serving . And I think of those who are far away. Today I received a letter from a priest, who is a chaplain from a distant prison, which tells how he is living this Holy Week with prisoners. He is a Franciscan. Priests who go far to share the Gospel ... and die there. One of the bishops said that the first thing he did, when he arrived in these mission posts, was to go to the cemetery, to the grave of the priests who lost their lives there, young, from the local plague (local diseases): they were not prepared, they had no antibodies. Nobody knows their names: they are anonymous priests. The country parish priests, who are parish priests of four, five, seven villages, in the mountains, and who go from one to the other, who know the people ... Once, one told me that he knew the names of all the people in the country. Really? I said to him. And he said to me: Even the names of the dogs! They know everyone. Priestly closeness. Well done, you are good priests.

Today I carry you in my heart and I bring you to the altar. Slandered priests. Many times it happens today, they cannot go to the street because people say bad things to them, in reference to the drama we experienced with the discovery of the priests who did bad things. Some told me that they cannot leave the house wearing their Roman collars because people insult them; and they continue to do this. Sinful priests, who together with the bishops and the sinner Pope do not forget to ask for forgiveness, and learn to forgive, because they know that they need to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. We are all sinners. Priests who suffer from crises, who do not know what to do, are in the dark ...

Today all of you, brother priests, are with me on the altar, you, consecrated persons. I only want to tell you one thing: don't be as stubborn as Peter. Allow the Lord to wash your feet. The Lord is your servant, He is close to you to give you strength, to wash your feet.

And so, with this awareness of the need to be wahed, be great forgivers! Forgive! Pray for a big heart of generosity in forgiveness. This is the measure by which we will be measured. As you have forgiven, so you will be forgiven: in the same measure. Don't be afraid to forgive. Sometimes there are doubts ... Look to Christ (look at the Crucifix). There is forgiveness for everyone there. Be brave; also in taking risks, in forgiving, in order to console. And if you cannot give sacramental forgiveness at that moment, at least give the consolation of a brother who accompanies and leaves the door open for that person to return.

I thank God for the grace of the priesthood, for all of you, thank you.  I thank God for you, priests.  May Jesus be good to you!  Only ask ... and allow your feet to be washed.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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