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KOTA KINABALU – Overflowing crowds filled the Sacred Heart Cathedral here as it celebrated the first of three days of the Easter Triduum, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, on Maundy Thursday, 24 March 2016.
In this Mass, the liturgy celebrates Christ’s twofold giving of himself: to his enemies, to die on the cross for the world of the world. He is the paschal victim whose blood saves his people (first reading); and to his friends and disciples, his Church, in the sacrament of his body and blood (second reading).
Archbishop John Wong presided over the Mass, concelebrated with Fr Rhobby Mojolou and Fr Maxi Un Bria of Indonesia, who came to do some research work on the Indonesian migrant workers.
There were three distinct features during this Mass. The first was that during the singing of the Gloria, the church bells were rung and then remained silent until the Easter Vigil. Thereafter, the responses and hymns were sung acapella by the choir and congregation.
The second was the washing of the feet of twelve chosen men from various parish groups or ministries by the presider, assisted by Fr Rhobby, after the homily. It made present Jesus’ example of self-giving and of service (gospel).
The third was the transfer of the Holy Eucharist which took place after the prayer after communion. Fr Rhobby, with the presider following, accompanied by the choir, altar servers and ministers, carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the chapel where it was to be kept until the following day.
After a period of silent adoration, the clergy and ministers returned to the cathedral for the stripping of the altar, symbolising the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers before his crucifixion. It represents the humiliation of Jesus and the consequences of sin as a preparation of new life.
The faithful took turns through assigned groups or individually to adore the Lord until midnight. There was no solemn adoration after midnight.