From Mr Nicholas Bannister SIR— All praise to the Catholic Herald (November 3) for publishing Eamon Duffy's fascinating account of the Pope's thinking about the liturgy. Of particular interest is Benedict XVI's understanding that, while the Last Supper lies at the heart of the dogma Of the Christian Eucharist, it can hardly be treated as a model for the form of the Mass.
Indeed, from the accounts of the Last Supper given in the Synoptic Gospels, there are really no ceremonial details to be gathered beyond the fact that the consecration of the bread and wine took ' place while Jesus and the Apostles were "still at table".
Whether the scene in Chapter 13 of St John, where Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles, is to be identified with the Last Supper, is debatable; for the event took place "before the paschal feast began". Certainly, though, St John does not suggest a formal occasion. Jesus dries his disciples' feet with a towel girded about Him. John sits with his head leaning against the Master's breast. To Catholics, though, the Mass is not a mere commem oration of the Last Supper, but the reenactment of Christ's Passion and our redemption — a sacrament that demands a liturgy of the profoundest mystical suggestion. As the Pope has divined, to compromise that profundity, or to belittle that mystery, must be to betray the very raison d'être of the Church.
Yours faithfully, NICHOLAS BANNISTER London W6