HOLY WEEK – Holy Thursday

Dear Parishioners and FRIENDS.
Today, Holy Tuesday, in the Cathedral the Bishop consecrate the HOLY OILS, which will be then distributed to all the parishes of the Archdiocese, as a sign of UNITY of all the local churches with their Bishop. The three oils are: Oil of the Catechumens (for Baptism) Oil of Chrism (for Confirmation and Holy Orders) and Oil if the Sick (for the anointing of the sick).
   I INVITE YOU to prepare and celebrate with solemnity the LAST SUPPER on HOLY THURSDAY EVENING in you own house/apartment with your family (ESPECIALLY CHILDREN). 
Try to spend the whole day of WEDNESDAY to prepare everything you need. Then on THURSDAY try to cook together and decorate the whole dining room, where you are going to celebrate; you can also assign different tasks to different people, so that thew celebration will have a serious and religious tone. It could become the most meaningful celebration of your life.
HERE BELOW a detailed description of the CEREMONY
      During the day you may prepare the LAST SUPPER together with your children or your family. You can prepare the Lamb (or a good cut of meat), bitter herbs (spinach, cabbage or similar vegetables) a cup of good wine (possibly red sweet) then you can bake one big “matzah” type of bread (flower, water, a bit of honey; it should not be too cooked otherwise it becomes too hard) (You could also buy the matzahs in the store)..
       At dinner time, you could have the table prepared with the children and the family with a nice tablecloth, flowers, 2 candles, (even a bit of incense or scented candles) and forks, knives and napkins for each one.
     At the moment of the EVENING MEAL the father (or mother) gathers all the family together and begins:
1 – Reading of the Jewish Passover – Exodus 12, 1-14. (The people of Israel remember the liberation from the slavery of Egypt and passage into the Promised Land).

Exodus 12.1-8, 11-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mafor you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.

The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a  
2 – Washing of the Feet – First reads the Gospel of John 13, 1-5 (or asks someone to read it). THEN he puts a towel around his waist, take a vas and a bowl of water and goes around washing the feet or the hands of all those present. (If you want you can do the scene of Peter who refuses to have his feet washed by Jesus).

John 13.1-15

Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, put on his robe, and returned to the table, Jesus said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”  
3 – THEN they can sit down and have their regular supper.
AT THE END OF THE SUPPER, they do the EUCHARIST. First clear the table and leave only the flowers, candles, one big cup of sweet wine and the unleavened bread (matza). Standing around the table (not sitting) the Father (or mother) reads the account of the Last Supper in Mark 14, 22-26.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The ceremony can close by sharing the feelings of the celebration among the participants. What did I learn? How do I feel now about the Last Supper? And together the they can put everything back to place.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

About Fr. Walter

Father Walter Tonelotto was born in Italy in 1947 and entered the Scalabrini Seminary at an early age. At 20 he was sent by his superiors to study Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York and then to the Toronto School of Theology. He holds a Master in Divinity from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa and a Master in Moral Theology from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, New York City.