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Eucharist is a reason for deep wonderment and gratitude, says Archbishop Costelloe

Archbishop Costelloe elevates the Blood of Christ during Holy Thursday Mass on 1 April at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan.

By Matthew Lau

The Lord’s gift of Himself and utterance of “Do not be afraid, I am with you to protect you” is the foundation for a hope that can sustain us through our darkest times, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said on 1 April to begin the Easter Triduum at St Mary’s Cathedral.

This year, unlike previous Maundy (Holy) Thursday celebrations, the customary washing of the feet re-enactment was not conducted within the Archdiocese of Perth because of COVID-19 concerns.

‘Maundy ‘is the shortened Latin word for ‘Mandatum’, meaning ‘Commandment.’

It refers to when Jesus, in the Upper Room during the Last Super, said to the disciples: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13: 34)

Archbishop Costelloe kneels as Dcn Paul Russell places the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle during Maundy Thursday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 1 April. Photo: Ron Tan.

Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Vicar General Father Peter Whitely VG, St Mary’s Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Cathedral Assistant Priests Fr CJ Millen and Fr Richard Rutkauskas, Redemptoris Mater Seminary Vice-Rector, Fr Luis Tijerino and retired Cathedral Dean Mgr Michael Keating, concelebrated last week’s Mass, with Permanent Deacon Paul Russell assisting.

In his homily for the Mass, the Archbishop Costelloe accentuated Jesus Christ’s “perfect love”, as demonstrated in His extraordinary gesture of washing His disciples’ feet.

“The story of the washing of the feet is above all a story of humility and service … the one who truly loves is ready to put him or herself at the service of the one who is loved and to do so in simplicity, in humility and in self-forgetfulness,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“What Jesus did on the night of His Last Supper, fully conscious as He would have been of what awaited Him, expresses what is deepest in His mind and heart.”

Christ understood that His life was meant to be “a total and free gift of Himself”, he added, in love for the sake of God’s people and in humble obedience to God’s will.

“Jesus never strayed from His commitment to this, notwithstanding the temptations with that He was assailed at the beginning of His ministry, and the agony He was soon to undergo in the garden of Gethsemane.

“For us, unlike Jesus, the story of our lives is a mixed one in terms of our fidelity, constancy, and integrity. In the depths of our hearts, I believe there is a yearning to be the kind of person whose lives are deeply marked by these qualities,” His Grace told the congregation.

“Goodness, truth, and beauty will always ultimately be more attractive and more fulfilling than evil, lies, and ugliness.

Worshippers flocked to St Mary’s Cathedral for Mass of the Last Supper on Thursday, 1 April 2021. Photo: Ron Tan.

“The past six weeks of our Lenten journey have been given to us to confront this challenge of the gap that exists between who and what we want to be and who and what we actually are.

“We would be right in thinking this way if we were to imagine that we are supposed to achieve this through our own efforts. But this, of course, is not the case.”

The purpose of celebrating Maundy Thursday Mass, in addition to recalling the Lord washing His disciples’ feet, he said, is to honour the institution of the Eucharist.

“This is the Lord’s supreme gift to us and the remarkable invitation he holds out to us: Make your home in me, He says, as I make my home in you.

“The Lord comes to us under the appearances of bread and wine as food for our journey, as strength for our weakness, as a source of hope in our moments of despair, and as forgiveness for our sins,” he continued.

“What we cannot do on our own – live in complete fidelity to the Lord – we can do with the help of his grace, with the help of his abiding presence.”

Archbishop Costelloe ended his sermon with inspiration from one of Saint Paul’s letters: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

From left: Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Cathedral Dean Fr Sean Fernandez, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Deacon Paul Russell, Fr Peter Whitely and Mgr Michael Keating during the consecration at the Holy Thursday Mass on 01 April at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan.