Now we enter the innermost temple of the Christian year: the Easter Triduum. Apart from the liturgies proper to these days, MAGNIFICAT gives us a host of resources with which to approach the mysteries they celebrate: from prayers on this evening which marks the foundation of the priesthood, to meditations, stations and beautiful art.
Today the oils have been blessed, and the chrism with which priests and bishops are annointed has been consecrated. The generosity of God flows naturally, like oil, into the Mass of the Last Supper. At the heart of tonight’s liturgy is the message that God’s gifts to us require a response: the desire to serve. The washing of the feet, signifying Christ’s service to his Apostles, now cues the service of his priests towards their people. This year it actually falls on the 10th anniversary of that most generous of priests and popes: St John Paul II.
To suffer or even to die for the sake of others is to take this desire to its ultimate conclusion. Only Christ can do this perfectly. And yet in tonight’s vigil we remember that it was not easy for him. St Luke tells us that the thought of it dismayed him so much, he produced sweat like “great drops of blood”.
This is heart-breaking, but it is also an encouragement to us: if we find things difficult, so did he – and he was divine. There is a profound meaning in Gethsemane, which is extended to the events of Good Friday. Jesus walks into the dark, into the mess of our lives, with us, and for us.
If we walk with him, in the night, towards the light of dawn, we can experience an Easter which lasts for far more than one day, or even 50. We can begin to touch eternity, where there is always enough time, because death no longer puts an end to love.
Leonie Caldecott is the editor of MAGNIFICAT UK and Ireland
MAGNIFICAT is an easy-to-read pocket-sized worship aid, of more than 400 pages. It can be used to follow the daily Mass and can also be read at home for personal or family prayer. To take up one of our MAGNIFICAT subscription offers, go here.