Holy Thursday marks the beginning of the Sacred Triduum

As Catholics around the world began the celebration of the holiest days of the liturgical year, the faithful gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday evening for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Bishop Robert Deeley served as the celebrant to begin the three-day period of the Sacred Triduum which commemorates Christ's Passion, death, and resurrection.

“We will remember this evening his gathering with his disciples at a celebration of a ritual meal; tomorrow, Good Friday, his death on Calvary; and, in the night of Holy Saturday extending into Easter Sunday, his glorious resurrection from the dead,” Bishop Deeley said in his homily. “We will do these as distinct moments, distinct celebrations but, in essence they are all one. They depend on each other, and interconnect with each other. They are all part of Jesus’ saving mission.”

Bishop Deeley performed the washing of the feet of members of the congregation, echoing when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, as accounted in the gospel reading. This ceremony is done on Holy Thursday to remind Catholics of Jesus’ message of loving and serving one another.

“What happened to the disciples in the moment when Jesus did wash their feet was not fully understood by them at the time. Jesus even tells Peter: ‘What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.’,” Bishop Deeley shared. “The disciples could not have understood until the entire story was written. Jesus was not just talking about washing the feet of others. He was asking something more. The disciples would see more on Good Friday. They would see Jesus not just wash their feet but give himself completely on the cross.”

Holy Thursday signifies when the sacrament of the Eucharist was established and celebrates the institution of the priesthood during the Last Supper.

“The Mass, the Eucharist changes us just as it did the disciples. We come to realize that our lives make Jesus’ love present in the world,” Bishop Deeley shared. “Every gesture of love becomes a visible manifestation of the love of the Father which we come to know in the Eucharist as we experience it in Jesus.”

The Holy Thursday Mass is the last Mass that will be celebrated before the Easter Vigil, so extra hosts were consecrated for use in Good Friday services, which commemorate Christ's crucifixion and death. Following Communion, the Most Blessed Sacrament was transferred in procession to the altar of repose in the chapel. Once in the chapel, the bishop incensed the Blessed Sacrament while all present for the rite sang the chant "Tantum Ergo."


altar servers process into mass
Bishop processes into mass
Bishop uses incense around the altar
Woman speaking from pulpit
Priests on the altar
Man sings from the pulpit
Bishop washes feet of woman
Bishop standing with altar servers
Priests at the altar
Priests kneel at the altar