Dating back to my preteen altar server days, I’ve always had a deep connection to the Triduum. Every year, when the volunteer ministry schedule for Holy Week came out, I was the first to sign up. Back then, the novelty of the unique rituals intrigued me; it’s not every day that you see your priest kneeling down to wash parishioners feet in imitation of Christ.
Through the years, I still find myself just as connected to the observances of Holy Week. Now, though, instead of having my curiosity piqued by different liturgical traditions like it was during my youth, these blessed holy days signify a deep, spiritual time of reverence, thanksgiving, and self-reflection. Looking back over the season of Lent, I’m reminded how the emptiness I’ve experienced signifies my dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Our Catholic faith is full of so many beautiful traditions, but one that leaves me speechless every time I witness it is the procession of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday. When the Mass of the Lord’s Supper has ended, the consecrated Hosts are solemnly carried over to a special repository, commonly referred to as the altar of repose. Many churches use their chapels for this occasion. The Blessed Sacrament remains in this location until the Communion Service on Good Friday.
I was attending the Holy Thursday service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in San Diego when I first felt the magnitude of this procession. The priest had just finished reciting the post-Communion prayer, the incense was being prepared, and I was gazing around trying to find where the altar of repose was located. The cathedral was packed full of congregants, yet the air hung perfectly silent. Without the rays of the bright Southern California sun shining in, the dark, wooden fixtures set a somber tone. The sanctuary was mostly illuminated by candles burning on the main altar.
I expected the choir to begin playing a quiet melody or to start a soft chant as the procession of the Blessed Sacrament commenced. Instead, the priest invited us all to follow behind him. Parishioners were encouraged to join the Blessed Sacrament as the procession trickled outside, down to the sidewalks that circled the cathedral, before ultimately resting at the temporary altar set up in the social hall. As the priest began to walk, the only sounds to break the silence were from Luke 23:42: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” These sweet, somber words, quietly sung, echoed throughout the remainder of the procession.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This humble plea sits heavily on my chest every time I hear it. These words serve as a meaningful reminder to me that we’re all invited to partake in the kingdom of God by actively participating in our Catholic faith through the sacraments. Remembering the importance of the sacraments inspires me to regularly receive the Eucharist and nudges me to go to Confession.
On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the night that Jesus made a gift of himself for the human race. This year, before you head out for Holy Thursday Mass, remind yourself of what you are celebrating when you remember the Last Supper. You are about to stand witness to the body and blood of Christ.
If you don’t usually participate in Adoration, spend some extra time with Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion. Allow yourself to remain open to hearing God’s message. How can you follow in Jesus’ footsteps by serving others? What are the blessings in your life that you take for granted? What might be holding you back from picking up your cross and following in Christ’s footsteps?
As I reflect upon the beautiful procession of the Blessed Sacrament, I find myself praying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” My soul takes comfort in knowing that we all have an open invitation to live in eternity with God.