We entered into Holy Week with palm branches on Sunday, recalling Jesus entering Jerusalem. Now we enter into the “Holy Triduum,” the three days leading up to the resurrection on Easter, with a series of liturgies that take us right along with Jesus in His final days leading up to the Resurrection. These are the three holiest days of the year, and the Church does a marvelous job of helping us to experience the sacredness of the Triduum through the liturgy and prayer during these three days.
Holy Thursday brings us into the Triduum by recalling the last supper, the washing of feet, and the agony in the garden, among other things.
The Holy Thursday Mass
The last supper and washing of feet are experienced during the Holy Thursday Mass. This Mass typically takes place in the evening, because Passover begins at sundown. It is worthwhile to make the time to attend this Mass because it really “sets the mood” leading into Good Friday. Fully partaking in the solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday help to make the experience of the Easter Mass even more joyful.
Adoration After Mass and the Visiting of Seven Churches
After the Holy Thursday Mass the Blessed Sacrament is placed in a closed tabernacle on an altar of repose, often in a side chapel, where the faithful can take part in Eucharistic Adoration into the night. This is a great opportunity for prayer as we head into the most solemn of days, Good Friday, and parallels the disciples keeping watch with Jesus in the garden.
It is a custom in many areas, especially urban regions, to visit seven churches for adoration after Mass on Holy Thursday. This tradition dates back centuries and may originate from the faithful visiting the seven pilgrim churches of Rome on Holy Thursday.
If you live in an area with many churches nearby this is a great tradition to try. It takes some planning, as every church has a different end time for their period of adoration, but it is great to join in prayer with parish communities around your area. It helps one to recognize that the experience of such a holy week is shared with many, not isolated to your single parish.
If you are unsure about what to do in Eucharistic Adoration, do not be afraid. You can simply pray quietly and converse with Jesus, you can pray the Rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours, you can read the Bible, or you can pray in any other way that feels comfortable. Some churches might even schedule prayer for part of the Adoration period. Use the time to prepare for Good Friday and to look forward to the joy of the Resurrection on Easter.