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Bishop Burbidge washes the feet of seminarians on Holy Thursday

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On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took time to share the Passover meal with his disciples. He washed their feet, showing them how to be a true leader. He broke bread, blessed it and gave it to them, asking them to do this always in his memory. And he tried to prepare them for what was to come. 

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, assisted by Deacon Nicholas Blank (left) washes the feet of seminarian Timothy Courtney. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD 

As Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said at the Mass of the Lord’ Supper at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington April 18, “Tonight, on this Holy Thursday, we celebrate the three gifts he gave to his church out of love for us: the Holy Eucharist, the priesthood and an example and a model to follow.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, “the source and summit of our lives,” said Bishop Burbidge. “No wonder St. John Paul II told us so frequently to pray for ‘Eucharistic wonder and awe’ so that we never approach this gift casually but always with profound reverence and joy.”

Holy Thursday also marks the day Christ gave the church priests, through whom the gift of the Eucharist is perpetuated, said Bishop Burbidge. By washing the feet of his disciples, Christ gave priests and all faithful “the example of love that we are called to follow,” said Bishop Burbidge. 

To commemorate that act of humility, Bishop Burbidge, assisted by Deacon Nicholas Blank, took a basin of water and fresh white towels and bathed the feet of 12 seminarians who sat in front of the altar.  

After holy Communion, Bishop Burbidge processed through the cathedral with the Eucharist, preceded by priests, seminarians, altar servers and the choir. Ushers emptied fonts of holy water, returning the sacramental to the ground in preparation for Good Friday. The procession ended at the altar of repose, adorned with flower and lit candles. Bishop Burbidge placed the Eucharist in the tabernacle and incensed the altar. Until midnight, the faithful stayed awake with Jesus. 

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019