Tenebrae for Holy Thursday
March 28, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

PSALMODY (Psalm 69:2-22, 30-37)

Save me, O God, *
for the waters have risen to my neck.

I have sunk into the mud of the deep *
and there is no foothold.
I have entered the waters of the deep *
and the waves overwhelm me.

I am wearied with all my crying, *
my throat is parched.
My eyes are wasted away *
from looking for my God.

More numerous than the hairs on my head *
are those who hate me without cause.
Those who attack me with lies *
are too much for my strength.

How can I restore *
what I have never stolen?
O God, you know my sinful folly; *
my sins you can see.

Let those who hope in you not be put to shame *
through me, Lord of hosts:
let not those who seek you be dismayed *
through me, God of Israel.

It is for you that I suffer taunts, *
that shame covers my face,
that I have become a stranger to my brothers, *
an alien to my own mother’s sons.
I burn with zeal for your house *
and taunts against you fall on me.

When I afflict my soul with fasting *
they make it a taunt against me.
When I put on sackcloth in mourning *
then they make me a byword,
the gossip of men at the gates, *
the subject of drunkards’ songs.

This is my prayer to you, *
my prayer for your favor.
In your great love, answer me, O God, *
with your help that never fails:
rescue me from sinking in the mud; *
save me from my foes.

Save me from the waters of the deep *
lest the waves overwhelm me.
Do not let the deep engulf me *
nor death close its mouth on me.

Lord, answer, for your love is kind; *
in your compassion, turn towards me.
Do not hide your face from your servant; *
answer quickly for I am in distress.
Come close to my soul and redeem me; *
ransom me pressed by my foes.

You know how they taunt and deride me; *
my oppressors are all before you.
Taunts have broken my heart; *
I have reached the end of my strength.
I looked in vain for compassion, *
for consolers; not one could I find.

For food they gave me poison; *
in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

As for me in my poverty and pain *
let your help, O God, lift me up.

I will praise God’s name with a song; *
I will glorify him with thanksgiving,
a gift pleasing God more than oxen, *
more than beasts prepared for sacrifice.

The poor when they see it will be glad *
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy *
and does not spurn his servants in their chains.
Let the heavens and the earth give him praise, *
the sea and all its living creatures.

For God will bring help to Zion *
and rebuild the cities of Judah
and men shall dwell there in possession. 
The sons of his servants shall inherit it; *
those who love his name shall dwell there.



The sign by which my friend betrayed me was a kiss:
He whom I kiss, that is he: hold him fast.
He who committed murder by a kiss gave this wicked sign.
The unhappy wretch repaid the price of blood and in the end hanged himself.
It had been better for that man if he had never been born.
The unhappy wretch repaid the price of blood and in the end hanged himself.

First Reading (Hebrews 4:14-5:10)

Having then a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let’s hold tightly to our confession. For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need. 

For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness. Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was. So also Christ didn’t glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him,

“You are my Son.
    Today I have become your father.”

As he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear, though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation, named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.



Judas, the vile merchant,
required a kiss from the Lord
who, like an innocent lamb,
did not deny the kiss to Judas.

For a large amount of dinarii,
he betrayed Christ to the Jews.
It would have been better for him,
had he not been born.

SECOND READING (From the writings of St Edith Stein)

We know from the Gospel narratives that Christ prayed as a Jew who believed in and was faithful to the Law. When he was a child with his parents, and later with his disciples, he used to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the
appointed times to take part in the festivals that were celebrated in the temple. He sang joyfully with the pilgrims, “I was glad when they said unto me: We will go into the house of the Lord”. He recited the ancient prayers of blessing, which are still said today, for bread, wine, and the fruits of the earth, as the accounts of the Last Supper bear witness. This was wholly consecrated to the fulfillment of one of the holiest religious obligations: the solemn Passover meal which commemorated the deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Perhaps it is here that we are given the deepest insight into the prayer of Christ, as it were the key which gives access to the prayer of the Church.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke  it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my  body.” And he took a cup, when he had given thanks he gave it to  them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the  covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of  sins”.

The blessing and giving of the bread and wine have become part of the rite of the Passover meal. But at the Last Supper this blessing and giving takes on a wholly new meaning. For this is the birth of the Church. Doubtless it was only at Pentecost that the Church was born a spiritual and visible community. But here, at the Supper, took place that grafting of the shoot in the vine branch which made the outpouring of the Spirit possible. The ancient prayers of blessing became creative words of life on Christ’s lips. The fruits of the earth became his flesh and blood, filled with his life. The visible creation into which he was inserted by his incarnation is now bound to him in a new and mysterious way. The foods that are indispensable for the growth of the human organism are transformed in their nature, and those partaking of them with faith are themselves transformed too; incorporated into Christ in a living union, they are filled with his divine life. The quickening power of the Word is fused with the sacrifice. The Word becomes flesh to give us that Life which is his own. He offered himself, and has thus offered the creation which he ransomed by this offering, as a sacrifice of praise to the Creator. The passover of the ancient covenant has become the passover of the new covenant, at the Lord’s Last Supper, at the Sacrifice of the Cross, and, between the Resurrection and the Ascension, at the joyful agape where the disciples recognized their Lord in the breaking of the bread; and, in the Sacrifice of the Mass, at Holy Communion.


One of my disciples will betray me today.
Woe to him by whom I am betrayed.
It were better for him had he never been born.

He that dips his hand with me in the dish,
Is he who will give me up into the hands of sinners.
It were better for him had he never been born.


God of infinite compassion,
to love you is to be made holy;
fill our hearts with your love.
By the death of your Son
you have given us hope, born of faith;
by his rising again
fulfill this hope
in the perfect love of heaven,
where he lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.  Amen.