Happy Holy Thursday!
Today is a significant anniversary: Pope John Paul II went home to God on this day in 2005. Now a canonized saint, he continues to speak to the Church and the world in ways that impact daily life on our campus at Ave Maria University.
It is fitting that this ten-year anniversary falls on the feast of the institution of the Eucharist and establishment of the priesthood. It is indeed a day to celebrate the generosity of our priests who lay down their lives in service of us all, and no one in my lifetime has modeled that priestly vocation better than St. John Paul II. Ave Maria is blessed to have the group of dedicated priests that we have, and tonight’s liturgy demonstrates their indispensable importance to our lives.
And yet, oddly enough, Holy Thursday is also a day to celebrate Christian marriage and family life and their connection to the Eucharist. St. John Paul II wrote in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio the following, “It is thus in the love between husband and wife and between the members of the family – a love lived out in all its extraordinary richness of values and demands: totality, oneness, fidelity and fruitfulness – that the Christian family’s participation in the prophetic, priestly and kingly mission of Jesus Christ and of His Church finds expression and realization.”
He went on to say that the Christian family’s “sanctifying role…has its highest expression in the Eucharist.” He pointed out that “The Eucharist is the very source of Christian marriage,” thus tying the Eucharistic sacrifice and the new and eternal covenant commemorated tonight, to the marriage covenant. So many couples and families within the Ave Maria University community live this truth faithfully, evangelically!
I hope this beautiful convergence on Holy Thursday of the many ways in which the people of God are evangelized – through the ordained clergy, consecrated religious, married, and single laity – is a source of renewal and confidence as the holiest days of the year begin this evening.
On behalf of all of the trustees, benefactors, and alumni of Ave Maria University, I extend to you our affection and best wishes for a glorious Easter.