Qui Pridie

Qui Pridie – English
On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

Qui Pridie – Latin
Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, et elevatis oculis in caelum ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens:
ACCIPITE, ET MANDUCATE EX HOC OMNES, HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, QUOD PRO VOBIS TRADETUR.

Qui Pridie, Part 1

On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:

On the night before He was to suffer, our Lord Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His Apostles. He chose this time and this meal to begin the establishment of the New and everlasting Covenant in His Blood. In His holy and venerable hands, He took ordinary bread in His hands, bread which will become His Body and Blood, hidden under the veil of a Sacrament.

At the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are not re-enacting the Last Supper. In fact, here we see a narrative. The priest is speaking the words of the Sacred Liturgy, which tells us what happened at the Last Supper. One of the major differences between the Mass and the Last Supper is that the Last Supper anticipated the Sacrifice of Jesus and the Mass makes this saving reality present once again.

In fact, we cannot understand the Mass as the Last Supper only. The Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ spans His entire saving Action, from the entrance into Jerusalem until His glorious Ascension into Heaven forty days after His Resurrection. It is impossible to separate the suffering of the Christ from the Last Supper. This is why the narrative begins by reminding us of His suffering.

The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross was once and for all. God is outside of time. Therefore, the Holy Eucharist was established, along with Holy Orders, in the Upper Room before Jesus suffered and died. However, this is precisely because Jesus was making the Cross present in His Body and Blood offered in the first Eucharist.

The key to understanding the unity of the Last Supper and the Cross is understanding the Jewish Passover meal. In the Passover, the father of the family would use the first-person perspective when recounting the narrative of the Exodus. The blessings are read by the father of the house and the first cup of wine is consumed: the cup of blessing.

At the Passover meal, each adult at the dinner drinks four cups of wine. The four cups mark the journey of the Hebrew people. The four cups mark that 1) God will save His People from harsh labor, which He accomplished by the plagues 2) God will save His People from servitude from the Egyptians, 3) God will redeem His People, which the Jews saw in the crossing of the Red Sea, and finally 4) that God will take His People as a Nation, which happened at Sinai.

In Jesus Christ, these four cups reveal their fulfillment. The first cup is fulfilled in various ways by Christ, and in the Book of Revelation, as the full manifestation of God to man. The ten plagues inflicted on Egypt were directed against the various false Egyptian gods. Jesus reveals to us everything that God wished to reveal about Himself and frees us from harsh labor or toiling without purpose in matters of Faith. The second cup is fulfilled by the Incarnation. By the God-man entering into our humanity, we are freed from the slavery of sin, in order to share in His divinity. The third cup is clearly fulfilled in Baptism, which is the definitive escape from the power of evil through the Red Sea. We will discuss the fourth cup in the next section.

Qui Pridie, Part 2

On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:

In the previous section, we began discussing the four cups of the Passover meal. At the Passover meal, each adult at dinner drinks four cups of wine. The four cups mark the journey of the Hebrew people. The four cups mark that 1) God will save His People from harsh labor, which He accomplished by the plagues 2) God will save His People from servitude from the Egyptians, 3) God will redeem His People, which the Jews saw in the crossing of the Red Sea, and finally 4) that God will take His People as a Nation, which happened at Sinai.

The fourth cup of the Passover meal marks the establishment of the People of God as a nation at Mount Sinai. As a nation, the Exodus from Egypt out of slavery was brought to completion. The New Exodus is the deliverance of men and women from the slavery of sin. The New Moses is our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him is the fullness of redemption. His Perfect Sacrifice on the Cross is begun at the Last Supper. Dr. Scott Hahn goes into exquisite detail about the relationship of the fourth cup, the Last Supper, and the Cross in his 2018 book “The Fourth Cup: Unveiling the Mystery of the Last Supper and the Cross.” I would highly recommend purchasing this book for a deeper dive. The main theological point that is drawn is incredibly important: the fourth cup is absent from the Last Supper!

The absence of the fourth cup from the Passover Meal would have been noticed by the Apostles. Certainly, they would have been wondering why Jesus left the Passover meal incomplete when He went out to the Garden of Olives to pray. Where then is the fourth cup consumed? It is on the Cross! The fourth cup in Passover marks the establishment of the People of God as a nation at Mount Sinai. In the New Passover, the fourth cup is consumed on the Cross when Jesus drinks wine mixed with gall and gives up His spirit saying, “It is finished (cf. Jn 19:30, Mk 15:37).” In Latin, the phrase is “consummatum est.” The fourth cup is also called the cup of consummation.

On the Cross, Jesus establishes the new and everlasting Covenant in His Blood. The Church is borne from the Cross. The People of God become such by entering into the death of Christ and thereby sharing in His Resurrection. All of this is possible because of the outpouring of Jesus to the Father.

What we need to remember is that Mass is not a reenactment of the Last Supper. It is a coming present once again of the saving Mysteries of Jesus’ Last Supper, Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension.

With His eyes raised to Heaven, Jesus’ whole life was a self-offering to the Father. He gave thanks to God, said the blessing, broke bread, and gave it to His disciples. At the Holy Mass, we enter once more into the saving Mysteries of Jesus Christ. We participate actively in these realties outside of space and time. St. Paul reminds us of the Mystery: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16)?”

Qui Pridie, Part 3

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is one prayer of our High Priest Jesus Christ from beginning to end. But even in that one prayer, the Words of Consecration are precious jewels. These holy words, spoken after Jesus has taken ordinary bread in His holy and venerable hands, make His own Body present in a mystical way.

As we discussed previously in the second part of the Quam Oblationem, “mystical” and “spiritual” do not mean “less real.” The physical is brought up into the spiritual and transcendent in a way that is hidden to our senses but very much real. We have to remember the power of the speech of God. When God speaks, things come into being. Think back to Genesis: God said “Let there be light” and there was light.

So, when the God-man Jesus Christ says, “This is my Body,” He means it. The bread is no more. The characteristics remain, but the substance underneath the appearances has transformed or shifted. This is the miracle of transubstantiation. Ordinary bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

The miracle of the Eucharist is a mystery. Though, we should be careful to take Jesus at His Word and to understand that God who made all things visible and invisible can make this reality present to us. When the priest elevates the Host, after the Words of Consecration, we are adoring our Eucharistic Lord, fully present under the veil of the Sacrament.

The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Sacraments. Baptism orients us towards Holy Communion, as does Confirmation. Penance restores us to union with God, to partake worthily of the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Orders and Matrimony are at the service of Communion. Finally, the Anointing of the Sick is healing for soul and body and can be followed by reception of Holy Communion. Each of these outward showings of God’s inner-life, His grace, draw from the source of the Eucharist and are oriented to the summit which is the Eucharist.

The Holy Body of Jesus Christ was “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (Is 53:5).” His Body was given up for you and for me. He went to the Cross for you and for me. But that was not enough for the gratuitous and superabundant love of God. He also established for us the everlasting memorial of His suffering and death by which the Holy Eucharist is made present for us to receive.

The Byzantine traditions contain a remarkably beautiful prayer before Holy Communion. I will share half of it with you here and the other half when we come to the third part of the Simili Modo section. This is a prayer of the heart, packed with meaning, gratitude, and seeking healing for soul and body.

“O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God, for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You: Remember me, O Lord, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when You shall come into Your kingdom. May the partaking of Your Holy mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of my soul and body.”

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