"And this food is called among us Eucharistia, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels have delivered unto us which was enjoined upon them."
—St Justin the Martyr
Music: Bach's St. Matthew's Passion; Arvo Part's Passio (Hillard Ensemble)
Tenebrae and the Last Supper
Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning "shadows" or "darkness."
This is the name given to quiet, somber parts of the Liturgy of the Hours that are chanted in monasteries all over the world on the last three days of Holy Week, begining a Midnight on Wednesday flowing into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Since the 5th century the custom has been to grdually snuff the candles in the church so that the congregation is enveloped in darkness, a symbol for our lives without the Light of the World.
These prayers manifest our sorrow, a deep grief for the suffering and crucifixion Jesus, our Lord. Such grief acknowledges our own acts of betrayal, our dreadful choices with long reaching consequences, our abandonment of the laws of Divine Love and the pain, loss and darkness of our personal sins.
A Tenebrae service is an opportunity for serious reflection on one's own life. The readings are taken from Lamenation of Jeremias and the Psalms.
These solemn, mournful days of reflection are the proper prelude to Joy, and the the expanding, conquering light of Glory on Easter Morning.
On Holy Thursday, sometimes called Maundy Thursday, the liturgy includes the Washing of the Feet after the homily, a solemn rite of service performed by Christ upon His disciples to prepare them for their priesthood and the marriage banquet they will offer, and which echoes the Old Testament practice of foot-washing before the marital embrace (II Kings 11:8-11, Canticles 5:3) In front of all the people, the priest washes the feet of 12 men who represent the Apostles.
And during supper Jesus ... 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 ... After He had washed their feet, had put on His robe, and had returned to the table, He 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." John 13:2-14
After the Mass, the priest removes his chasuble, returns to the Altar for the rite known as the Stripping of the Altars, during which everything is removed as Antiphons and Psalms are recited. All the glorious symbols of Christ's Presence are removed to give us the sense of His entering most fully into His Passion. Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemani; His arrest is imminent. Fortescue's "Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described" tells us: "From now till Saturday no lamps in the church are lit. No bells are rung. Holy Water should be removed from all stoups and thrown into the sacrarium. A small quantity is kept for blessing the fire on Holy Saturday or for a sick call." The joyful signs of His Presence won't return until Easter begins with the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.
"O Lord Jesus Christ the son of the living God, set thy passion, cross, and death between thy judgment and my soul, now, and in the hour of my death and vouchsafe to grant unto me grace and mercy: to the living and the dead rest and pardon: to thy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners life and glory everlasting, who livest and reignest, God, with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end."
Listen with yore eyes closed for 6 minutes.... jes' a few minutes to think on your life.