Last night I had the Mass of the Lord's Supper for the first time at St. Mary Church. All told, it was one of the most beautiful Masses I've ever had the privilege to be part of.
Father Tom concelebrated; Father Ang was a little under the weather, it was the first Holy Thursday Mass he's missed in his priesthood. The choir was in excellent voice, as was the assembly.
We had, of course, everything that makes a Mass more beautiful. We had eight servers, a mixture of adults and children; some wondered why I wanted so many, but with so many jobs to do, it makes it easier for the servers, and several commented after that it added a great deal.
The church was simply decorated, but very nice with plenty of candles, especially on either side of the tabernacle which--although empty--would be the place of repose. We had some discussion about having another site in church for the Eucharist after Mass, but there aren't many options.
The music was truly splendid. Perhaps if my music director shows up, he can post all the choices: "Lift High the Cross" for the opening hymn, the Gloria was sung-through by the choir, although people did sing along, a simple, strong chant of the psalm.
Father Tom gave an astonishingly good homily, talking about what was wonderful about the first Holy Thursday, and went went terribly wrong, one of which was that the disciples jockeyed for power with each other--and so it has always been in the Church, we still struggle with that. He said this is why it is imperative that the pastor, the priest, washes the feet of disciples, that he not delegate that to anyone.
After that, Father Tom and I stripped off our chasubles, and each assisted by two servers, we washed the feet of eleven parishioners (one did not make it, no intentional symbolism here). It was simple, elegant and for me as a priest, very meaningful. I think we sang "Where charity and love prevail--or that may have been the offertory hymn, or the communion hymn? Nothing was rushed, yet nothing dragged, either.
I was so happy with the servers, they executed everything just right, including lining up in front of the altar--four candle-bearers, thurifer and someone to hold the incense boat. All knelt at the end of the Sanctus, and during the Roman Canon, everything was just right. I would have chanted the Eucharistic Prayer, but that makes it hard on the concelebrant, so as a courtesy I did not. We sang "Lord, by your cross and resurrection..." as the mysterium fidei, beautiful. All the saints in the Canon, but I did mess up one of the special inserts, that pertain to the day, that are part of the Roman Canon. No one knew but Father tom and I.
The choir sang a beautiful Ave Verum during communion, then after a bit of silence, we had the procession, with Pange Lingua, and we processed with the Lord around the church, back to the tabernacle, and then all departed in silence (well, not all; some were talking in church afterward, which irked me greatly, but they soon quieted down). Many of both parishes stayed for quite awhile, and the Knights of Columbus had their all night vigil in church, until 6 am. I came over around midnight to put out most of the candles and to turn down some lights, then before Morning Prayer today, the music director and I finished taking away all the stuff from the sanctuary that needs to be gone for Good Friday--candles, flowers (around the tabernacle), etc.
It was so beautiful a Mass I wanted more, and I really think many present did as well. No one seemed to want it to end.