By Emily Drooby and Erin DeGregorio
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, held during the evening of Holy Thursday, commemorates the institution of the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and the institution of the priesthood.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio — who celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on April 1 — spoke about how important this night was for Christians. He also discussed the significance of the feet-washing rite, which was not performed this year due to the pandemic.
“There’s a certain connection to baptism and what Jesus did by washing the feet of his disciples,” Bishop DiMarzio said during his homily. “It was not only a sign of humility but also it showed them that they could be cleansed, they could be forgiven.”
“By tradition, he starts with Judas’s feet first, the betrayer — not Peter, the head of the apostles. Peter, however, protests as we heard in the Gospel, which gives Jesus the occasion to say that ‘you must be cleaned and washed all over’— which is the necessity of baptism itself,” the bishop continued.
“Tonight, our ritual presentation of Jesus’s action teaches us a lesson of humility and solidarity with one another, as we are one in the church.”
Foster Gonsales, who splits his time attending the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier in Chelsea, Manhattan, said he attends a majority of the Masses and services during the Easter Triduum. “I can not imagine a reality without going into church during the Holy Week,” he said.
Similarly, Norma Felix, member of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, said the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is one of her all-time favorite Masses. “That’s the anniversary, the birth of Eucharist for me,” she said. “I never miss it.”
Felix said that not being able to attend Mass at the beginning of the pandemic was particularly difficult for her because she missed receiving communion.
“It is like a nourishment — something you cannot even see, but you feel it, you live it, [and] it becomes part of you,” she explained. “To keep myself at least in the position to receive communion … is [like] the Super Bowl, and I have the win.”
Keith Alphonso, who also attends Masses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said the return to church has been a step towards normalcy for him.
“It feels good to be here,” Alphonso said while at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. “I know we’ve passed the hard part of the pandemic, and coming here is almost … a feeling [like] you want to give thanks.”
The Mass concluded with Bishop DiMarzio carrying the covered Blessed Sacrament to the repository. Parishioners had the opportunity to continue the Blessed Sacrament’s Adoration, kneeling nearby and silently praying in the dim-lighted cathedral.