I have to say, it was probably one of the better Masses I've been to lately, and probably one of Fr. Magiera's best. The choir was pretty much in tune, and they did a surprisingly good singing of the Gloria (Holy Thursday is the only time during Lent that the Gloria is sung). Even at the best of times, the choir manages to turn every song into a funeral dirge, but this time, they were upbeat, uptempo, and giving a real sense of the celebration of Christ.
The homily was blissfully short, a brief treatise on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He actually spent more time talking about the upcoming services (they're not Masses, since there is no communion). Holy Thursday is also when the priest, in persona Christae, washes the feet of a dozen male parishoners just as Christ did for the Apostles. I'm not trying to disparage Magiera, but I think it does him some good to be humbled in that way, and he himself reminded us that he is in service to God and the Church, so he is in service to the people.
After Mass, we had the procession of the Eucharist down to Priori Hall, the basement of the church (the "crypt church", as Magiera called it) where the original worship space was before the building was completed. Then we returned upstairs to witness the stripping of the altar. I have to admit, it is a somewhat sobering experience. All the statues have been covered, and what little greenery there was is then removed, along with the candlesticks and the altar cloths. It is all done very efficiently, with the choir singing psalms. In many ways, it brought to mind what the family of the recently deceased must have to do, which when you think about it is exactly what they were doing. We then sang Compline and departed the church in silence.
Tomorrow morning is Good Friday, a day of fasting and abstinence. Only one full meal is allowed, although you may have a small collation in the morning and evening, provided it does not add up to a full meal.
Tomorrow, I am also leaving for a three-day retreat at the monastery. After the horrid Lenten period I've had, I (literally) hope and pray this weekend can restore my relationship with God. I'll probably post something when I return on Sunday evening.
Until then, have an easy fast tomorrow, and have a blessed Easter.