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A Message from Fr. John for Holy Thursday (April 9)

Dear St. Denis Parishioners:

On Holy Thursday (April 9), St. Denis will celebrate the “Mass of the Lord’s Supper” with Fr. John, Fr. Dennis, and Fr. Vincent.  This Mass will be livestreamed at 4:00 p.m. via St. Denis’s Facebook page; and the video will be uploaded to St. Denis’s YouTube channel about 2-3 hours after the end of the liturgy. 

The livestream should be viewable even if you do not have a Facebook account.  (If you don’t have an account, you may have to refresh St. Denis’s Facebook page to get it to open; and if a pop-up appears encouraging you to set up an account, you can dismiss the pop-up by clicking on “Not Now.”)

For information about other livestreamed or televised Masses on Holy Thursday, please click here.

When watching a Mass on the Internet or on TV, please participate as much as you can—e.g., by saying the responses and prayers aloud and by standing, kneeling, and sitting at the appropriate times.  I also recommend praying St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Act of Spiritual Communion,” which is available here.  Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us to avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

The “Mass of the Lord’s Supper” on Holy Thursday is special because, at this Mass, we recall what Jesus did for his beloved disciples on the night before he died, including how he lovingly washed their feet and how he instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist by giving them his Body (in the form of bread) to eat and his Blood (in the form of wine) to drink. 

The livestreaming of the Mass will continue with the priests of St. Denis processing with the Blessed Sacrament from the main altar to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where we will spend one hour with Jesus in prayer.  During this hour of Eucharistic Adoration, you may want to pray the Rosary using the Luminous Mysteries, with a different person leading each decade of the Rosary.  (For instructions on praying the Rosary, please click here or here.)    

St. Denis’s livestreaming of the “Mass of the Lord’s Supper” and the subsequent Eucharistic Adoration will end by about 6:00 p.m.  At that time, or sometime thereafter, I encourage you to have a special meal with your immediate family. 

To make this meal special, you may want to turn off all of the electric lights and have dinner by candlelight.  To make the meal even more special, you could approach this dinner as if it was a kind of “Last Supper”—e.g., imagine that someone was going away for a long time, such as off to college, to get married, or to move far away for a new job.  If this truly was a kind of “Last Supper” for your immediate family, what would you say to each other?  How would you treat each other?  How would this dinner be different than an ordinary dinner?

Then, after dinner, instead of turning on the TV or using your computers or smartphones, you could spend some quality time together as a family praying, talking, or playing games.

I recommend reading Thursday’s Gospel (John 13:1-15) three times either by yourself or with your family (perhaps with a different family member reading the Gospel each time) as described in the following three steps. 

Step 1:  Prior to the first reading of the Gospel, you would ask everyone to listen for a word or phrase that catches their attention or speaks to their heart.  Then, after the first reading, everyone would share what word or phrase caught their attention or spoke to them. 

Step 2:  Prior to the second reading, you would ask everyone to think about why they chose that word or phrase.  Then, after the second reading, everyone would try to explain (perhaps with a story or an anecdote) why that word or phrase caught their attention or spoke to their heart.

Step 3:  Prior to the third reading, you would ask everyone to be attentive to how the Lord is speaking to them or calling them through this Gospel.  Then, after the third reading, everyone would share what the Lord is calling them to do, to think, to feel, or to be.  Finally, you can conclude by praying the “Our Father.”    

Keeping a candle lit throughout the evening is another way to celebrate Holy Thursday at home.  For Christians, a candle’s light represents the light of Christ, who said:  “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).  Therefore, on the evening of Holy Thursday, please keep a candle burning in a quiet area of your home where people can go and pray.  And when it’s time to go to sleep, you can blow out the candle; and everyone can pray a bedtime prayer using their own words, or perhaps kneel down beside their bed and pray the following classic prayer that many of us learned as children: 

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I ’wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

May God bless and protect you and your families during this Holy Week; and through our current trials, may He  draw all of us closer to Him.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Fr. John

P.S.  Please check St. Denis’s website (StDenis.org) for our Holy Week livestreaming and video schedule, as well as for recommendations for celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday at home.  (The Good Friday recommendations will be posted on Wednesday, April 8.)
 

 
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