Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of The Sacred Paschal Triduum. These three solemn days celebrate the greatest mysteries of our redemption. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church gathers and with special celebrations keeps the memory of our Lord’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
On Maundy Thursday the Holy Church begins the Triduum with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. When our Lord was about to be handed over to death, He entrusted to His Church a sacrifice which was New for all eternity. This was the New Covenant in His blood; the banquet of His love.
The central act of Christian being is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Everything we seek to do, seek to be, all the other Sacraments, all church ministries, and the works of the apostolate, are all bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented towards it. It is in the Holy Eucharist itself that is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, because it contains Christ Himself, our paschal lamb.
The most sacred Eucharist is both a giving and a receiving. In this great mystery of salvation God gives Himself to us, and, if we are in a state of grace*, we receive and consume Christ the paschal lamb, who sacrifices Himself for us on the Cross. Albeit in a much lesser way, we also give; we give ourselves in worship and prayer to God, uniting our sufferings and trials with His on the Cross, and if we have done this worthily, He receives us into that communion in the divine Life by which the Church is kept in being.
By the Eucharistic celebration we unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy. We anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all.
So the Eucharist, the Mass, is the sum and summary of our Faith, our Christian life, and it is the most sacred and most mysterious act of the Church, in which we have the greatest privilege of participating, in one way or another.
Thanks be to God for His most ineffable Gift.
* If we are in a state of mortal sin (by committing a grave sin without coercion and with knowledge) then we cannot receive the Eucharist until we are reconciled to God by the Sacrament of Penance. If we receive the Eucharist unworthily we profane Christ and commit a further grave sin.