"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

MAUNDY THURSDAY (more to come)

We celebrate Maundy Thursday together: first all the priests together with their bishop, then all the people together with their priest.  Here are two sermons preached by Pope Benedict on the priesthood and on the Christian Mystery as celebrated by the whole Church.   

How is this as a short, profound statement on the meaning of the Cross?

"Through his love, the Cross becomes "metabasis," the transformation of the human being into a participant in the glory of God. In this transformation, He involves all of us, drawing us into the transformative power of his love to such an extent that, in our being with Him, our lives become a "passage," a transformation. Thus we receive redemption – becoming participants in eternal love, a condition toward which all of our existence strives." 
I don't think I have ever heard a better explanation of why Christ died.
Chrism Mass 2018

 Holy Thursday. Chrismal Mass 
March 20, 2008 

Pope Benedict on the Priesthood

Dear brothers and sisters, each year the Chrism Mass exhorts us to return to that "yes" to the call of God which we pronounced on the day of our priestly ordination. "Adsum – here I am!", we said like Isaiah, when he heard the voice of God, who asked him: "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am, send me!", Isaiah replied (Isaiah 6:8). Then the Lord himself, through the hands of the bishop, laid his hands upon us and we gave ourselves to his mission. Since then, we have traveled down various roads in following his call. Can we always claim what Paul, after years of a service of the Gospel that was often laborious and marked by sufferings of all kinds, wrote to the Corinthians: "Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged" (2 Cor. 4:1)? "We are not discouraged." Let us pray today that our zeal may always be rekindled, so that it is constantly fed by the living flame of the Gospel. 

At the same time, Holy Thursday is for us an opportunity to ask ourselves again: To what did we say "yes"? What is this "being a priest of Jesus Christ"? Canon II of our missal, which was probably composed in Rome before the end of the second century, describes the essence of the priestly ministry with the words that, in the book of Deuteronomy (18:5,7), described the essence of the Old Testament priesthood: astare coram te et tibi ministrare. Two functions, therefore, define the essence of the ministerial priesthood: in the first place, "standing before the Lord." In the book of Deuteronomy, this should be interpreted in the context of the previous dispensation, according to which the priests did not receive any portion of the Holy Land – they lived by God, and for God. They did not attend to the usual work necessary for sustaining daily life. Their profession was "to stand before the Lord" – looking to Him, living for Him. Thus, all told, the word indicated a life lived in the presence of God, and thus also a ministry in representation of others. Just as the others cultivated the land, from which the priest also lived, so he kept the world open to God, he had to live with his gaze turned to Him. If these words are now found in the Canon of the Mass immediately after the consecration of the gifts, after the entry of the Lord among the assembly gathered in prayer, then they indicate for us the standing before the Lord who is present; it indicates, that is, the Eucharist as the center of the priestly life. But even here its impact goes further. In the hymn of the liturgy of the hours that, during Lent, introduces the office of readings – the office that the monks used to pray during the hour of the nocturnal vigil before God, and for the sake of men – one of the tasks of Lent is described in the imperative: arctius perstemus in custodia – let us be watchful with greater intensity. In the tradition of Syriac monasticism, the monks were described as "those who stand on their feet"; standing on one's feet was an expression of vigilance. What was here considered as the task of the monks, we can reasonably view as being also an expression of the priestly mission, and as a correct interpretation of the words of Deuteronomy: the priest must be one who watches. He must stand guard before the relentless powers of evil. He must keep the world awake to God. He must be one who stands on his feet: upright in the face of the currents of the time. Upright in the truth. Upright in his commitment to goodness. Standing before the Lord must always be, in its inmost depths, also a lifting up of men to the Lord, who, in turn, lifts all of us up to the Father. And it must be a lifting up of Him, of Christ, of his word, of his truth, of his love. The priest must be upright, unwavering and ready even to suffer outrage for the sake of the Lord, as shown in the Acts of the Apostles: they "[rejoiced] that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name" (5:41). 

Let's continue now to the second expression, which Canon II takes from the Old Testament – "to stand in your presence and serve you." The priest must be an upright, vigilant person, a person who stands straight. Then, to all of this, service is added. In the text of the Old Testament, this word has an essentially ritual meaning: the priest was responsible for all of the acts of worship stipulated by the Law. But this acting according to ritual was then classified as service, as a task of service, and this explains in what spirit these activities had to be carried out. With the inclusion of the expression "to serve" in the Canon, this liturgical meaning of the term is in a certain way adopted – in keeping with the newness of Christian worship. What the priest does at that moment, and in the celebration of the Eucharist, is to serve, and to carry out a service of God and a service of men. The worship that Christ rendered to the Father was that of giving of himself to the end, for the sake of men. The priest must insert himself into this worship, into this service. Thus the expression "to serve" involves many dimensions. Certainly first among these is the proper celebration of the Liturgy and of the Sacraments in general, carried out with interior participation. We must learn to understand more and more the sacred liturgy in all of its essence, to develop a lively familiarity with it, so that it becomes the soul of our daily life. It is then that we celebrate properly, it is then that there emerges on its own account the ars celebrandi, the art of celebrating. There must be nothing artificial in this art. If the Liturgy is a central task of the priest, this also means that priority must be given to learning continually anew and more profoundly how to pray, in the school of Christ and of the saints of all ages. Because the Christian Liturgy, by its nature, is also always a proclamation, we must be persons who are familiar with the Word of God, who love it and live it: only then will we be able to explain it in an adequate way. "To serve the Lord" – priestly service also means learning to know the Lord in his word, and to make Him known to all those He entrusts to us. 

Two other aspects, finally, are part of service. No one is as close to his master as the servant, who has access to the most private dimension of his life. In this sense, "serving" means closeness, it requires familiarity. This familiarity also brings a danger: that our constant contact with the sacred might make it become routine for us. Thus reverential fear is extinguished. Under the influence of all of our habits, we no longer perceive the great, new, surprising fact, the He himself is present, that He speaks to us, He gives himself to us. We must fight without rest against this habituation to the extraordinary reality, against the indifference of the heart, recognizing always anew our insufficiency and the grace that is present in the fact that he delivers himself into our hands in this way. Serving means closeness, but above all it means obedience. The servant is under orders: "Not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). With these words on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the decisive battle against sin, against the rebellion of the fallen heart. Adam's sin consisted precisely in the fact that he wanted to do his own will, and not that of God. The temptation of humanity is always that of being totally autonomous, of following only its own will and of maintaining that only in this way will we be free; that it is only through such limitless freedom that man can be fully himself. But in this very way, we pit ourselves against the truth. Because the truth is that we must share our freedom with others, and can be free only in communion with them. This shared freedom can be true freedom only if through this we enter into what constitutes the measure of freedom, if we enter into the will of God. This fundamental obedience that is part of the human being, a being that is not solely of and for itself, becomes even more concrete in the priest: we do not proclaim ourselves, but rather Him and his Word, which we could not have imagined on our own. We proclaim the word of Christ correctly only in the communion of his Body. Our obedience is believing together with the Church, thinking and speaking together with the Church, serving together with it. This always involves what Jesus predicted to Peter: 'someone else will . . . lead you where you do not want to go'. This being led where we do not want to go is an essential dimension of our service, and it is precisely this that makes us free. By being led in this way, which can be contrary to our own ideas and plans, we experience something new – the riches of the love of God. 

"To stand before Him and serve Him": Jesus Christ, as the true High Priest of the world, has conferred upon these words a profundity that was unimaginable before. He, who as Son was and is Lord, wanted to become that servant of God whom the vision of the book of the prophet Isaiah had foreseen. He wanted to be the servant of all. He depicted the entirety of his high priesthood in the gesture of the washing of the feet. With the gesture of love until the very end, He washes our dirty feet, with the humility of his service He purifies us from the sickness of our arrogance. Thus he makes us capable of becoming God's companions. He descended, and the true ascension of man is now realized in our ascending with Him and to Him. His elevation is the Cross. This is the most profound descent, and, as love pushed to the very limit, it is at the same time the culmination of the ascent, the "elevation" of man. "To stand before Him and serve Him" – this now means entering into his call as servant of God. The Eucharist as the presence of the descent and ascent of Christ thus refers, beyond itself, to the many ways of the service of love of neighbor. Let us ask the Lord, on this day, for the gift of being able to say once more in this sense our "yes" to his call: "Here I am. Send me, Lord" (cf. Isaiah 6:8). Amen

 Holy Thursday. Mass of the Lord's Supper 
March 20, 2008 

Dear brothers and sisters, Saint John begins his account of how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples with especially solemn, almost liturgical language: "Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end" (13:1). The "hour" of Jesus has arrived, toward which all of his activity was directed from the beginning. John describes what makes up the content of this hour with two terms: "to pass" (metabainein, metabasis) and "agape" – love. These two words explain each other; both describe together the Passover of Jesus: cross and resurrection, crucifixion as elevation, as "passage" to the glory of God, as a "passing" from the world to the Father. It is not as if Jesus, after a brief visit to the world, were now simply departing and returning to the Father. This passage is a transformation. He carries with him his flesh, his being man. On the Cross, in giving himself, He is fused and transformed, as it were, into a new mode of being, in which He is now forever with the Father, and at the same time with men. He transforms the Cross, the act of killing, into an act of self-donation, of love to the end. With this expression, "to the end," John refers in advance to the last words of Jesus on the Cross: all has been brought to conclusion, "it is finished" (19:30). Through his love, the Cross becomes "metabasis," the transformation of the human being into a participant in the glory of God. In this transformation, He involves all of us, drawing us into the transformative power of his love to such an extent that, in our being with Him, our lives become a "passage," a transformation. Thus we receive redemption – becoming participants in eternal love, a condition toward which all of our existence strives. 

This essential process of the hour of Jesus is represented in the washing of the feet, in a sort of symbolic prophetic action. In it, Jesus displays through a concrete action precisely what the great Christological hymn of the letter to the Philippians describes as the content of the mystery of Christ. Jesus removes the garments of his glory, he girds himself with the "towel" of humanity, and becomes a slave. He washes the dirty feet of the disciples and thus makes them capable of participating in the divine meal to which He invites them. Exterior purifications for worship, which purify man ritually while nevertheless leaving him as he is, are replaced by the new bath: He makes us pure through his word and his love, through the gift of himself. "You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you," He will say to the disciples in his discourse on the vine (John 15:3). He continually washes us again with his word. Yes, if we welcome the words of Jesus in an attitude of meditation, of prayer and of faith, they develop their purifying power within us. Day after day, we are as it were covered with various forms of uncleanness, empty words, prejudice, partial and altered wisdom; a multifarious half-falsity or open falsity constantly infiltrates our depths. All of this obfuscates and contaminates our soul, it threatens to make us incapable of truth and goodness. If we welcome the words of Jesus with an attentive heart, these reveal themselves as genuine washings, purifications of the soul, of the inner man. This is what the Gospel of the washing of the feet invites us to: to allow ourselves continually to be washed again by this pure water, to allow ourselves to be made capable of convivial communion with God and with our brothers. Yet from the side of Jesus, after the blow of the lance from the soldier, there emerged not only water, but also blood (John 19:34; cf. 1 John 5:6,8). Jesus did not only speak, He did not leave us only words. He gives himself. He washes us with the sacred power of his blood, meaning his self-donation "to the end," to the Cross. His word is more than simple speech; it is flesh and blood "for the life of the world" (John 6:51). In the holy Sacraments, the Lord kneels down again and again before our feet, and washes us. Let us pray to Him that the sacred bath of his love may penetrate us more and more deeply, so that we may be truly purified! 

If we listen attentively to the Gospel, we can discover two different aspects in the episode of the washing of the feet. The washing that Jesus performs for his disciples is above all simply his own action – the gift of purity, of the "capacity for God" offered to them. But the gift then becomes a model, the task of doing the same thing for each other. The Fathers described this twofold aspect of the washing of the feet with the words "sacramentum" and "exemplum." In this context, "sacramentum" does not refer to one of the seven sacraments, but to the mystery of Christ in its totality, from the incarnation to the cross and resurrection: this totality becomes the healing and sanctifying power, the transformative power for men, it becomes our "metabasis," our transformation into a new form of being, in openness toward God and in communion with Him. But this new being that He, without our merit, simply gives to us must then be transformed in us into the dynamic of a new life. The totality of gift and example that we find in the pericope of the washing of the feet is characteristic of the nature of Christianity in general. In comparison with moralism, Christianity is something more and something different. Our activity, our moral capacity is not placed at the beginning. Christianity is above all a gift: God gives himself to us – He does not give some thing, but himself. And this takes place not only at the beginning, at the moment of our conversion. He continually remains the One who gives. He always offers us his gifts anew. He always precedes us. For this reason, the central action of being Christians is the Eucharist: gratitude for having been gratified, the joy for the new life that He gives us. 

In spite of all this, we do not remain passive recipients of the divine goodness. God gratifies us as personal and living partners. The love that is given is the dynamic of "loving together," it is intended to be a new life within us, beginning from God. We thus understand the words that, at the end of the account of the washing of the feet, Jesus speaks to his disciples and to all of us: "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34). The "new commandment" does not consist in a new and difficult norm, one that did not exist before. The new commandment consists in a loving together with Him who loved us first. This is also how we must understand the Sermon on the Mount. This does not mean that Jesus gave us new precepts at that time, which represented the demands of a more sublime humanism than the previous one. The Sermon on the Mount is a journey of training in conforming ourselves to the sentiments of Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5), a journey of interior purification that leads us to living together with Him. The new reality is the gift that introduces us into the mentality of Christ. If we consider this, we perceive how far we often are in our lives from this new reality of the New Testament; how slight an example we give to humanity of loving in communion with his love. We thus owe humanity a proof of the credibility of Christian truth, which is demonstrated in love. Precisely for this reason, we desire all the more to pray to the Lord to make us, through his purification, ripe for the new commandment. 

In the Gospel of the washing of the feet, the conversation between Jesus and Peter presents yet another detail of the praxis of Christian life, to which we finally want to turn our attention. At an earlier point, Peter had not wanted to allow the Lord to wash his feet: this reversal of order, that the master – Jesus – should wash feet, that the master should perform the service of a slave, is completely in contrast with his reverential fear of Jesus, with his concept of the relationship between teacher and disciple. "You will never wash my feet," he tells Jesus in his usual passionate manner (John 13:8). This is the same mentality that, after the profession of faith in Jesus as Son of God, in Caesarea Philippi, had urged Peter to oppose Jesus when he had predicted his affliction and cross: "No such thing shall ever happen to you," Peter had declared categorically (Mt. 16:22). His concept of the Messiah involved an image of majesty, of divine greatness. He had to learn over and over again that the greatness of God is different from our idea of greatness; that it consists precisely in descending, in the humility of service, in the radicalness of love to the point of total self-abandonment. And we, too, must learn this over and over again, because we systematically desire a God of success, and not of the Passion; because we are not capable of realizing that the Shepherd comes as a Lamb who gives himself, and in this way leads us to the right pasture. 

When the Lord tells Peter that without the washing of his feet he would never be able to have any part in Him, Peter immediately and impetuously asks to have his head and hands washed as well. This is followed by the mysterious words of Jesus: "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed" (John 13:10). Jesus alludes to a bath that the disciples, according to ritual prescriptions, had already taken; in order to participate in the meal, they now needed only to have their feet washed. But naturally, a deeper meaning is hidden in this. To what does it allude? We do not know for sure. In any case, we should keep in mind that the washing of the feet, according to the meaning of the entire chapter, does not indicate a single specific Sacrament, but the "sacramentum Christi" in its entirety – his service of salvation, his descent even to the cross, his love to the end, which purifies us and makes us capable of God. Here, with the distinction between the bath and the washing of feet, nevertheless, there also appears an allusion to life in the community of the disciples, to life in the community of the Church – an allusion that John may have intentionally transmitted to the community of his time. It then seems clear that the bath that purifies us definitively and does not need to be repeated is Baptism – immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ, a fact that changes our lives profoundly, giving us something like a new a identity that endures, if we do not throw it away as Judas did. But even in the endurance of this new identity, for convivial communion with Jesus we need the "washing of the feet." What does this mean? It seems to me that the first letter of Saint John gives us the key for understanding this. There we read: "If we say, 'We are without sin,' we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing" (1:8ff.). We need the "washing of the feet," the washing of our everyday sins, and for this we need the confession of sins. We do not know exactly how this was carried out in the Johannine community. But the direction indicated by the words of Jesus to Peter is obvious: in order to be capable of participating in the convivial community with Jesus Christ, we must be sincere. One must recognize that even in our own identity as baptized persons, we sin. We need confession as this has taken form in the Sacrament of reconciliation. In it, the Lord continually rewashes our dirty feet, and we are able to sit at table with Him. 

But in this way, the word takes on yet another meaning, in which the Lord extends the "sacramentum" by making it the "exemplum," a gift, a service for our brother: "If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). We must wash each other's feet in the daily mutual service of love. But we must also wash our feet in the sense of constantly forgiving one another. The debt that the Lord has forgiven us is always infinitely greater than all of the debts that others could owe to us (cf. Mt. 18:21-35). It is to this that Holy Thursday exhorts us: not to allow rancor toward others to become, in its depths, a poisoning of the soul. It exhorts us to constantly purify our memory, forgiving one another from the heart, washing each other's feet, thus being able to join together in the banquet of God. 

Holy Thursday is a day of gratitude and of joy for the great gift of love to the end that the Lord has given to us. We want to pray to the Lord at this time, so that gratitude and joy may become in us the power of loving together with his love. Amen.
Pope Francis in the Chrism Mass & washing feet in the Regina Caeli Prison 

Maundy Thursday 2018 

“At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Simon Peter had questioned Jesus, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” The Bible is full of people who ask God why and how: Mary at the Annunciation, “How can this be?” or Moses before the burning bush, “What shall I say?” Throughout the Exodus, the Israelites kept on complaining against Moses and Aaron, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to this place, where there is neither food nor water?” At the time they did not know what God was doing, but later, in the Promised Land, they could to look back and begin to understand. They celebrated the Passover to show that they understood God’s plan and this understanding brought with it repentance and thanksgiving.

            At the Last Supper, the disciples couldn’t follow what Jesus was doing. What did he mean when he said, “This is my body; this cup is the new covenant in my blood,” when all they could taste and see was bread and wine? And all this talk of a Paraclete, who would lead them to the whole truth and give them power from on high? Now, at the end of the meal, here he was, washing their feet and telling them to follow his example. What could this mean?

            Caiaphas and Pilate, the High Priests and the Pharisees, the Roman authorities, the soldiers and the crowds, even Simon Peter and Judas and the other disciples, all those involved in the Passion, Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, what could they have understood at the time? Jesus alone knew that his hour had come. Only later did they understand, beginning surprisingly enough with the good thief, who said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and the soldier, a Gentile, who was first to declare, “Truly, this was the Son of God”.

            After the Resurrection the disciples did begin to understand, but they weren’t easily convinced. Only at Pentecost were their eyes opened at last. Finally, they understood that he was Lord and Christ, the Saviour of the world and this understanding led them to repentance and thanksgiving and the urge to preach the Gospel. That is why we still celebrate Holy Week and Easter, why we celebrate the sacraments and come to church. Christians have come to understand, as far as we are able, the mystery of the Incarnation and of God’s ineffable love for Man.

            Tonight’s celebration reminds us that Christ wants us to follow his example. He wants us to show how perfect our love is. He wants us to serve others with humility and charity. He wants us to sacrifice our lives for others and not count the cost. We, of course, understand all this, but do we have the faith to do what Jesus asks of us? Have you ever thought what the world would be like if Christians were simply to follow the example of Jesus? Mind you, if you take up your cross every day and follow him, don’t be surprised if in the end you are crucified. “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”

In the Ambrosian Rite there is a beautiful chant that is sung after the proclamation of the Gospel this evening. It says, “Today, Son of the Eternal God, you receive me as a friend at your wondrous banquet. I will not hand over your mystery to the unworthy nor will I kiss and betray you like Judas, but I implore you, like the thief on the cross, to receive me, Lord, into your kingdom.” Let us make this our prayer tonight.

Holy Thursday: The Restoration of Life as Communion with God

ON APRIL 16, 2009 BY FR. TED


St. Vladimir’s Seminary sent out those on their mailing list an excerpt from Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s book on HOLY WEEK.   The entire passage is beautiful, but I will quote her part extremely relevant to Holy Thursday and the commemoration of the Last Supper – the institution of the Holy Eucharist.   Unfortunately in Orthodox piety the Vespers-Liturgy which celebrates Christ’s instituting the Eucharist is often made a less important liturgical service than doing the Matins of Holy Friday with its 12 Gospel readings.  But it is in the Upper Room, in the washing of the disciple’s feet and in Christ saying the words of consecration that we are given to understand the sacrificial nature of His voluntary death on the cross.    Perhaps one day there will be the liturgical revival that will restore the services to their proper times and which will make the Vespers-Liturgy of Holy Thursday as central to Orthodox piety as it is to our theology.

God is Love (1 John 4:8).  And the first gift of Love was life.  The meaning, the content of life was communion.  To be alive man was to eat and drink, to partake of the world.  The world was thus Divine Love made food, made Body of man.  And being alive, that is, partaking of the world, man was to be in communion with God, to have God as the meaning, the content, and the end of his life.  Communion with the God-given world was indeed communion with God.  Man received his food from God and making it his body and his life, he offered the whole world to God; transformed it into life in God and with God.  The love of God gave life to man; the love of man for God transformed this life into communion with God.  This was paradise.  Life in it was, indeed, Eucharistic.  Through man and his love for God the whole creation was to be sanctified and transformed into one all-embracing sacrament of Divine Presence, and man was the priest of the sacrament. 

But in sin man lost this Eucharistic life.  He lost it because he ceased to see the world as means of communion with God and his life as eucharist, as adoration and thanksgiving.  He loved himself and the world for their sake; he made himself the content and the end of his life.  He thought that his hunger and thirst – that is, the dependence of his life on the world – could be satisfied by the world as such, by food as such.  But world and food, once they are deprived of their initial sacramental meaning as means of communion with God; once they are not received for God’s sake, and filled with hunger and thirst for God; once, in other words, God is no longer their real ‘content,’ can give no life, satisfy no hunger, for they have no life in themselves.  And thus by putting his love in them, man deviated his love from the only object of all love, of all hunger, of all desires.  And he died.  For death is the only inescapable ‘decomposition’ of life cut from its only source and content.  Man thought to find life in the world and in food, but he found death.    His life became communion with death, for instead of transforming the world by faith, love, and adoration into communion with God, he submitted himself entirely to the world; he ceased to be its priest and became its slave.  And by his sin the whole world was made a cemetery, where people condemned to death partook of death and ‘sat in the region and shadow of death’ (Matthew 4:16). 

But if man betrayed God, God remained faithful to man.  He did not ‘turn Himself away forever from His creature whom H had made, neither did He forget the works of His hands, but He visited him in diverse manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy ‘ (from the Liturgy of St. Basil).  A new Divine work began, that of redemption and salvation.  And it was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God, who, in order to restore man to his pristine beauty and to restore life as communion with God, became Man, took upon Himself our nature, with its thirst and hunger, with its desire for and love of life.  And in Him life was revealed, given, accepted, and fulfilled as total and perfect Eucharist, as total and perfect communion with God.  He rejected the basic human temptation: to live ‘by bread alone’; He revealed that God and His kingdom are the real food, the real life of man.  And this perfect Eucharistic Life, filled with God, and therefore Divine and immortal, He gave to all those who believe in Him, that is, find Him the meaning and content of their lives.  Such is the wonderful meaning of the Last Supper.  He offered Himself as true food of man, because the Life revealed in Him is the truth Life.  And thus the movement of Divine Love which began in paradise with a Divine ‘take, eat…’ (for eating is life for man) comes now ‘unto the end’ with the Divine ‘take, eat, this is My Body…’ (for God is life for man).  The Last Supper is the restoration of the paradise of bliss, of life as Eucharist and Communion.

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