When I was going through seminary, part of our preparation for the priesthood was to have a one-year internship at a parish. We called it a “pastoral year.” I spent my pastoral year just down the road at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Newport News.

I remember that it was on this very night back in 2018 — the night of Holy Thursday at Mount Carmel — during the celebration of the Mass — as I knelt in front of the altar swinging the incense at the elevation of the Host — that I suddenly realized where I was actually at.

I was in THE Upper Room.

I was at THE Last Supper.

I was kneeling at THE foot of the Cross.

THAT was Jesus right in front of me.

And all of the other people at that mass that night — we were all somehow mystically, spiritually… 


“Do you realize what I have done for you?”

Of course, before this experience, I believed in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. I knew my Catechism. I had read books on the Mass, I “understood” a lot of the symbolism… I trusted that I was receiving the Body and the Blood of our Lord.

…But there was just something about that moment, at that place, in that part of my life, as the Sacred Host dangled above the altar for a half-moment’s time that also sort of felt like eternity… that God decided to lift the veil just a little bit more, and I could actually see it all happening right in front of me…

But it was only a glimpse, and it was over in barely a second. I saw it, and then the veil came back down, and everything was hidden again. 

Everything looked ordinary again.

And yet at the end of the day, none of it was ordinary.

Because whether or not you have an experience like what I had at that particular mass back in 2018 — this is what we as Catholics truly believe happens at EVERY. SINGLE. CELEBRATION. OF. THE. EUCHARIST.

Whether it’s the simplest daily mass. Or the biggest fanciest liturgy with the pope at St. Peter’s in Rome… Whether it’s the most decked out Traditional Latin mass with all the smells n’ bells… or the loopiest Novus Ordo… It doesn’t matter.

The same thing happens every time:

We are made present to the exact same Last Supper and the exact same Cross.

The Church uses a technical theological term for this called “anamnesis” — which is the word Christ uses at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me…. Do this in ‘anamnesis’ of me.”

Anamnesis is more than just piously imagining what it must have been like at the Last Supper. It’s more than just trying really hard to picture ourselves in that time and place. No… Anamnesis makes present the reality that is remembered. Whether or not we see it. Whether or not we feel it.

It’s there.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen put it this way: “Each time the priest speaks the words of consecration, he applies Calvary and its fruits to a particular place and a particular time. Localized at one point in space and one moment in time, Calvary is now universalized.”

This is HUGE. This is what sets us apart as Catholics:

The Cross, the Eucharist, the Resurrection — all of it! — are no longer historical events locked in the far-distant past! All of these events can be lived and experienced here and now in the celebration of the liturgy through the hands of the ordained priest. 

Look around! — You are there right now!

You are in the Upper Room.

You’ve already heard His Voice speak to you in the Scriptures.

Jesus is going to be around the altar in just a moment kneeling down.

He’ll be washing feet.

Then He’ll be breaking the bread.

He’ll be offering the cup.

We will see it all happening with our own two eyes!

…But what about the eyes of our heart?

Do you realize what Jesus is doing for you?

Over 1500 years ago, St. John Chrysostom complained: “People nowadays say, ‘I wish I could see Jesus’ shape, his appearance, his clothes, his sandals.’ Only look! You see him! You touch him! You eat him!”

This Holy Thursday night, let’s ask Jesus for eyes to see Him and touch Him and taste Him as He truly is in the Eucharist.

“Jesus, lift the veil just a little bit more. We believe we are here with You in the Upper Room, at the foot of Your Cross. Increase our faith. Help us to see. Forgive our unbelief.”