Tag Archives: Mass

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper

To think of a three-day commemoration of the death of the Lord, his repose in the tomb and his resurrection, when it has become commonplace to speak of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday takes a little adjustment in our minds on how to calculate the time in such a way that we see the unity of the Triduum, and not disconnected celebrations. One way to see the unity of the Triduum is to calculate time from sunset to sunset. From the sunset on Thursday to the sunset on Friday is one day, the first day of the Triduum: the day of the death of the Lord. This helps us to see our celebration in the context of Saint Augustine who sees the three days as Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Adrian Nocent in his book The Liturgical Year points out that “in anticipation of the Eucharist celebration that will be the climax of the Paschal Vigil, the Church reminds us on Holy Thursday evening of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.” The sacrament makes really present in time and space the one sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and his victory over death through his Resurrection.

The Collect points out a great mystery in that Christ is already celebrating at the Last supper, something that will take place only later on. As Nocent says, the Supper was truly a rendering present of what was going to happen later on the Cross. “Thus the Last Supper and our celebration of the Eucharist are alike in that they actualize the Good Friday event; they differ in that the Supper actualized what was yet to come, while our Eucharist actualize an event now past.”

Be attentive to the various signs and rituals of the Mass that point out he uniqueness of this night.

    • First of all there will be no holy water in the font. Why? The fonts are waiting to be filled with the Easter water to be blessed at the Great Vigil.
    • The tabernacle will be open and emptied with no sanctuary lamp lit. Why? These signs point once again to the Great Vigil when the sanctuary lamp will be lit from the newly-blessed Paschal Candle on the night all things are made new.
    • Bells are rung during the Gloria. Why? Because the bells await to be rung at the Gloria in excelsis at the Great Vigil. Even the organ may only be used to support singing and then with great restraint until the Gloria at the Great Vigil.
    • At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the signs and rituals are already pointing us to the Great Vigil of Easter, the premier Liturgy of the ancient Christian Church. The priest will not give a blessing at the end of Mass. Why? Once again it points the Great Vigil when he will conclude the Mass with the priestly blessing.

All these simple signs and gestures points out that on Thursday evening we begin a Liturgy that extends over the three days and concludes with the blessing at the Great Vigil.

  • After Mass even all the crosses are removed from the church and if they cannot be removed they are to be veiled. Why? To prepare us to receive the cross into the church for our adoration on Good Friday.

All the signs and symbols continue to move us forward and ever more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of which the Introit proclaims:

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.

This text from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians keeps the unity of the Paschal Triduum in clear focus. We should GLORY! in the cross of Christ who was obedient unto death that God raised him on high to draw us into union with him.

The church calls us to ponder many mysteries this evening, namely the institution of the Eucharist and of the priestly order and the commandment of the Lord concerning fraternal charity. This invitation to charity is reflected in the prescribed hymn for the evening: Ubi Caritas (text, music) and the Mandatum, that is the washing of the feet. This ritual can be traced by to Jerusalem as early as the fifth century. This gesture is oriented to Christ who took the part of the servant of which the prophet Isaiah (53:11) speaks and a prophecy that will be proclaimed at the Good Friday Liturgy:

Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

The church offers such a rich fare of readings that we can derive even greater spiritual benefit if we read them in the context of the prayers and ponder them before we come to the Church.

  • Most striking this evening is the transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament to the altar of the Mother of God accompanied by the chant Pange Lingua ( music, text ) for adoration until Midnight.  Why Adoration?  Through adoration we are drawn into a deeper union with Our Lord.

Even if you cannot remain until Midnight, you can continue to remain in prayer and keep watch with Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. A wonderful way to keep watch is to to read what Our Lord spoke to his apostles and the Last supper as they walked to Gethsemane. Begin to read at John 13:16 and continue to read to John 18:1 where the Passion account to be read at Good Friday will begin.  As we approach the Adoration of the Cross at 3 pm on Friday, may the words of the Introit of the Mass echo in our minds and hearts:

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.

Try to maintain a spirit of reflection and adoration in your homes this evening. Refrain from TV or radio and minimize social media so this night can be a night to wait and watch with the Lord until midnight when the Lord is taken and his trial begins through the night.

in med

In medieval times it was thought that a mother pelican, in a time of famine, would pierce her own breasts to feed and sustain her chicks with her own blood. Thus the pelican is a symbol of Christ, who shed his blood so that we would live

Mass in a Cave Chapel

Monasticism continued to develop into the early medieval period. Basil the Great of Cappadocia was not only an influential theologian but also was known for his care for the poor. He established a monastic rule which set forth a communal monastic way of life focused on prayer and work. His legacy extends into the western church through his influence on Saint Benedict. I would like to share some photos I took of ruins of medieval monastic churches and monasteries in Cappadocia.

Father Mattingly and I were privileged to be able to say Mass in a chapel from the medieval period. Notice the carvings into the rock on the walls of the church.

Photography was forbidden in the churches however please open this folio and be mesmerized by the medieval beauty of the frescoes.

There are more beautiful photographs and descriptions of these churches and frescoes here.

Ordination Anniversary Photos

Here are more pictures from Sunday, a day full of thanksgiving.

Almost 500 people were in attendance.

First reading by my nephew, Alex Eaton.

Second reading by my brother, Richard Kauffmann.

Intercessions by Charles Pyle.

Giftbearers Althea Premazza, my nephew Burke Eaton, and my sister-in-law Anne Kauffmann.

Little Sisters of the Poor.

Boy Scout Troop #498 led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Last Few Days in Thailand

Last Saturday in Thailand. Early in the morning before daybreak I went to the temple and watched the morning offering of food to the monks. The Buddhist faithful bring food to be placed in their begging bowls and then they kneel for the monk to give a blessing. This is the only food the monks receive and if there is more than they need they give it to the poor. The devotion is stunning and the reverence with which the ritual is carried out is very moving. The monk with whom we had a “monk chat” said that this is a way to inculcate the virtue of giving. This morning offering is instructing the faithful Buddhist to be generous every moment of the day through this discipline.


Then on to the Wat Dol Suthep temple. One has to walk up 308 steps to the temple and the stairs are enclosed with a railing of a colorful snake.

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The temples are all surrounded by images form Thai mythology. Once again I am struck by the devotion and piety of the people as they pray.

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That afternoon I walked to the cathedral of the Sacred Heart and encountered a young Thai deacon who will be ordained a priest in June. I asked where he was from and he said he was from the Karen tribe. And then asked if I had heard of the tribe. I said yes because a few days arlier we visited the Karen tribe, that is, the longneck people. He said his father was a Buddhist and mother a Protestant however he converted. I asked how his parents felt to which he said they were okay with it as long as he believed in one God. I had several conversations with Thai priests from different tribes that evening. They said the Thai people are very respectful of all religions. The evening concluded with Mass in Thai. I concelebrated and observed how devout everyone is. They folded their hands in prayer all through the readings and everyone sang and chanted. I was given the privilege of administering Holy Communion and was struck by the reverence.

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Although Mass was in Thai I felt at home because I was with my tribe! What a wonderful way to conclude this trip.
Sunday. After a long day of transit I was back in Bangkok. That afternoon I visited the Ananta Samakhorm Throne Hall also called the marble hall designed by an Italian architect and built of imported Carrara marble. It was intended for King Rama V (from the King and I) however it was not finished until the reign of his son, Rama VI. Interior photos of this impressive hall were not allowed. And it houses “Arts of the Kingdom” which is a display of beautiful master works of silver and gold and textiles.

ThailandFinal-18The evening concluded with a cultural show which highlighted the history of the Thai people. Before the production there was a film spot on the King. The King has no political power however he is beloved by the people. He has reigned for 60 years and the royal family lives a simple life and avoids any ostentation rather they devote themselves to royal projects that are for the cultivation of local economy that lifts up the people and preserves their cultural heritage. At the end of the film there was a quote from the King on the day of his coronation: “I will reign with righteous for the welfare and happiness of my people.” This struck me because it set forth for the mission of all those who exercise authority which is given for the common good.


Final day. The morning began with a visit to the golden Buddha which weighs 5.2 tons and worth $250 million.



Then a visit to the Jim Thompson house. He was a Princeton architect who took several old teak Thai homes and configured them into a single home. He also restored after WWII the lost art of Thai silk and marketed it through the world.


This was the final evening and I am still trying to absorb what I experienced in a culture whose religion is so foreign to me. However what I experienced that resonated with me so deeply was the respect with which the Thai people treat one another. The words of the Gospel that call us to mutual respect continued to echo in my mind.

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Gaudete Sunday in Munich

On this third Sunday of Advent I decided to celebrate Mass at 9 as well as 11 am. The first Mass was at Saint Michael church. The parish choir sang the Alma Redemptoris Mater. Mass by Tomas de Victoria. There were twelve teenaged servers and two censers, there were candles and thick incense. Once again a full church and excellent congregational hymns that I was familiar with but instead of English texts they were in German.

After Mass I went to Bürgersaal for the second Mass. I had some time to explore the lower church where blessed Rupert Mayer is buried, and behind the altar is a museum with artifacts from his life and a video presentation. I was very drawn in to the presentation of his life and his resistance to the Nazis. On the wall was a quotation from him, “I say to you clearly that a German Catholic can never be a National Socialist.” I was very taken by his Gospel witness in the face of ideological fanaticism that was evil.

Mass at the Bürgersaal was exquisitely beautiful. The choir sang the J C Siblinger Mass for a women’s choir with harp. Once again a full church with great congregational singing.

After Mass I proceeded to Saint Peter church. When I entered you could still smell the aroma of incense. Another beautiful Baroque church.

From there I spent the whole afternoon until early evening at the Residenz which was the former residence of the Bavarian kings and has housed a museum since 1920. It sustained heavy bombing; however the restoration is once again remarkable. The Schatzkammer includes items as the Bavarian crown insignia, liturgical vessels and jewelry and furniture. I have included a few photos of a few of the many treasures housed there.

Saint George

Saint George



The palace is extensive and you get a sense of the surroundings of the court and how the tastes of the times change. The royal chapel was very beautiful.

When I left the museum I went right back to Saint Michael for an Advent concert that was put within a liturgical setting. A women’s choir from Saint Chapel performed Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. Once again surrounded by great congregational singing and proclamation of the word and preaching! This Gaudete Sunday has been a Sunday of rejoicing. When I stepped into the streets I heard everyone wishing everyone happy Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, not “happy holidays.” And that is refreshing and a cause of great joy.

Frohweinachten aus Bingen, Germany

Blessed and Merry Christmas from Bingen, Germany

Last night was thrilling as I stood at the altar of St. Martin Basilica, concelebrating Christmas Eve  Mass in Bingen, the home of St. Hildegard.

At the beginning of Mass we processed to the Christmas crib for the blessing which was very moving. The church was illluminated with candles and the singing was vigorous. At the crib memories of all the Christmas cribs at the parishes where I have been assigned were very vivid. For almost 40 years preparing the crib with devoted parishioners has been a highlight for me.

Then at the altar I remembered in prayer all Christ’s faithful I have been priviledged to serve. Saint Augustine in Richmond, Saint John in Waynesboro, Saint Mary of the Annunciation, Saint Benedict in Richmond. The solemn celebration last night was a moment of thanksgiving for all the faithful people entrusted to my care.

During the Mass I prayed through the intercession of Saint Hildegard of Bingen to bless all those with whom I have celebrated this most holy night throughout my priestly ministry. 

As those beautiful words of the Christmas proclamation drifted through the air so heavily laden with incense my thoughts turned to all those entrusted to my care in ministry and I prayed the Christ child be born anew within their hearts on this most holy night.

This morning we returned to church for the Solemn Mass of Christmas Day. There was a men’s Gregorian choir and mixed choir. It was stunning. The men chanted the propers in latin and the mixed choir augumented the singing and also prepared some choral selections. The high point was the chanting the Creed in Latin which so beautifully unites us in a faith that transcends language and culture. At the altar I felt so close to everyone in the church and when I distributed Holy Communion with the invitation, “Der leib Christi,”  the body of Christ, I was so drawn into the mystery of the Incarnation.

Frohweihnacthen! Merry Christmas!

Camino Day 30, Santiago, Rest Day

Day 30. Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Santiago…Rest day.

We stayed in bed until about nine before packing up our backpacks and going out for coffee. Although we planned to stay in the same albergue we had to clear our things and recheck in after 1:00 pm. We are not thrilled with the albergue, but it is in a great location and we could not get a hotel room until tomorrow night.

We explored the area taking note of restaurants and shops. There were a number of churches that we visited. We also came upon a market which we enjoyed seeing. But the best was yet to come.


We went to the cathedral to concelebrate the pilgrims’ Mass at noon. There were 14 priests at the Mass and it was a great feeling to be welcomed and given vestments and be part of this great experience again, this time from the altar. When pilgrims arrive and “hug the saint” it is from a hallway behind the main altar. Throughout the mass arriving pilgrims were walking behind the main altar, visible only through a grill, and we could see their hands embracing the saint during the Mass. Father John and I were asked to distribute Holy Communion. We were moved by the devotion of so many people. About 1,000 people attend the pilgrims Mass each day. Again, the botafumeiro was used and we had a bird’s eye view as it swung through the transepts, but we had been told no cameras! It was great after Mass to see more familiar faces of pilgrims we had walked with along the way, some only arriving today.


Two Irish sisters from Galway have become good friends and we invited them to join us for lunch. We ate at an outdoor cafe and through lunch kept welcoming more friends from the Camino who happened by. The women recommended a bus tour that goes around the city, so we got a better idea of the city.

We also took a rooftop tour of the cathedral. It was exciting to climb the 100+ stairs to the roof. It was a beautiful day and we had incredible views from the roof, as you can see from photos in this post.

Father John, in the hat, taking in the rooftop view.

Father Mattingly and I ready to see the city of Santiago from the roof of the Cathedral.







The day passed quickly and after dinner we are about to go to bed. In the albergue light are out at 10:00 pm sharp.

We are happy to see our bodies already recovering after one day off the trail. Perhaps we will be fully recovered by the time we arrive home. If you are wondering about the beards you will have to wait and see this weekend!

Camino Day 27, The Feast of St. Matthew. Ribadiso de Baixo

Day 27. Sunday, September 21, 2014. The Feast of St. Matthew. Ribadiso de Baixo.
41K to Santiago.

We left a little later than usual, it being the sabbath and all, and joined the throng of pilgrims starting on the Way. It was early enough to be treated to a view of the sunrise. Since we travel west we always have to look behind us to see it.

We attended the weekend Mass last night in Portomarin. Evening Masses here are at 8:00 pm. This is Fr. John’s 25th anniversary of ordination and he concelebrated the Mass. It ended with the pilgrims’ blessing. Fr. Tom thought that the readings were particularly fitting. St. Paul wrote that his life was Christ and nothing else mattered. All of us face challenges along the Way, some people worse than others, but we want our lives, first and foremost to be Christ. When we arrive in Santiago it will be the completion of this Camino, but the completion of our desire that our lives be Christ will continue.

Today’s journey was a little bit of everything, through a number of villages, through pastures, up and down hills, across rivers, through wooded areas and a large town, Melide.

Melide is noted for its preparation of pulpo (octopus) so Fr. Tom and our Australian friend stopped for a midmorning snack of octopus and beer.

The town was bustling with traffic on a Sunday morning, and there was a Sunday market in the city plaza. Some people could have been in church but we couldn’t swear to it.

One of the interesting structures we see in every town is the cruciero. It is a cement cross on a cement base (see photo). Fr. Tom thinks this has possibilities at St. Olaf. What do you think?

More sights from along the way.




Reflection at Carrion

Last night at Carrion we have a beautiful Mass at 8 pm. The church was full with locals and pilgrims. After Mass the priest invited all the pilgrims to come forward for a blessing and a little gift. So many came forward and we acknowledged our nationalities. So many people of different languages and nations united in one faith. The Catholic church is truly the most exceptional institution on the face of the earth! One Dutch Protestant pilgrim whom I met on the way a few days before knew I was a priest. He told me this morning that when he saw a priest bless a priest he was brought to tears. After the blessing the priest invited us to the Mary altar and we chanted the Salve Regina. I listened with heartfelt devotion and my heart was filled with thanks to profess the Catholic faith in the midst of such linguistic diversity. What a blessing to experience the universality of the church.