A Banquet of Eternal Sacrifice

Holy Thursday is a day of profound mystery and thus deserving of profound celebration. Throughout the liturgical calendar, this Mass of the Lord’s Supper is unique in that it is the only day in that the priest will consecrate not one but two hosts: one which he will consume at this Mass, and another which will be carried in procession to the altar of repose, ready for the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday. Aquinas’ hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi – considered by many, including 2024 Lent Reflections (44)myself, to be the most beautiful musical exposition of our Catholic Faith – is sung as the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is carried, under the appearance of bread, throughout the church at the end of the Mass.

The principal reason that we celebrate this hallowed day is because we remember the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar – the Eucharist – at the Last Supper. This was a most sacred banquet, a banquet of eternal sacrifice. The prayer O sacrum convivium speaks of how a “pledge of future glory is given to us.” On Holy Thursday, on which Christ was betrayed, He was to rise in three days’ time: Now, as we celebrate this awesome sacrifice, we know that “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”

There are two other important aspects to Holy Thursday. The first of these is directly related to the institution of the Eucharist, wherein Christ tells his apostles to “do this in memory of me.” Christ is the eternal high priest who is the sacrifice, and those who are called to his ministerial priesthood offer this sacrifice to the Lord every single day. The second is the source of the common English name, Maundy Thursday, coming from the Latin Mandatum: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). Our Lord gives this new commandment to his disciples after the washing of the feet.

Jesus Christ truly is the suffering servant, who became “obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Let us proceed into these great mysteries in the threefold empowerment of this day, adoring Christ truly present in the Eucharist, by supporting the material and spiritual needs of those brave men ordained to the ministerial priesthood, and by living out the Lord’s commandment to pour forth our love unto others as a reflection of the love he has for us. Tantum ergo sacramentum, veneremur cernui.

Kieran Malandain '26

Kieran Malandain is a student in Yale College.