Thursday, March 28, 2013
Why Do We Celebrate Holy Thursday?

Today is the beginning of the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) where we recall God's love for us through His suffering, death, and Resurrection. We have arrived at the Sacred Triduum, the very time we have been preparing for by our Lenten observance.

Today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. Today at Mass we remember the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper as well as the institution of the priesthood. At Mass, the altar is stripped down. Christ is taken from us. Behold, He is betrayed! Click here to read the traditional Mass readings for today.

Likewise, we recall the humility of Jesus when He washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. At Mass, the priest will wash the feet of twelve men.  At the very end of the Mass, the priest also takes the Sacred Eucharist and incenses it. He then carries it around to the "altar of repose".

Traditionally separate from Mass, the mandatum is a ceremony in which the priest (or bishop) will wash the feet of 12 men, in imitation of our Lord who humbled Himself to wash the feet of His disciples. This is kept as part of our Lord's command to do likewise.  For centuries, even monarchs would wash the feet of their subjects today. The controversy that has arisen in recent years is whether the feet of women may be washed.  Despite the bad example of some in the Church, it is against the Laws of the Church for the feet of anyone other than Catholic men to be washed.

It is a day in which we are especially asked to perform works of charity to the poor and the needy. Before the changes to the Mass in 1955, the Mass of Holy Thursday was celebrated in the morning. For parishes still keeping the pre-1955 Rites, they may choose to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper either in the morning or in the evening. Regardless of this distinction, today should still be a day for us to take off from our work, devote the day to prayer, and perform works of charity. While the Queen of England does not wash the feet of her subjects anymore, she does give a pence to various poor subjects, in keeping with the Catholic custom of doing charity to all. As our Lord said: "He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

The Eucharist is only allowed to be displayed until Midnight; after that, we arrive at Good Friday, and Our Lord leaves us. Following the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose in the church for Adoration. These ornate altars should move our hearts to sentiments of adoration and respect to our Eucharistic King. Those who live in a geographic area where many Catholic churches are nearby may choose to take part in the Seven Churches Visitation, a pious Roman Catholic Lenten tradition where you visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday to pray at the various altars of repose.

Each of the visits commemorates one of the stops of our Lord on His way to Calvary

(1) Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22: 39-46)
(2): Jesus bound and taken before Annas (John 18: 19-22)
(3): Jesus taken before the High Priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26: 63-65)
(4): Jesus taken before Pilate (John 18,35-37)
(5): Jesus taken before Herod (Luke 23: 8-9; 11)
(6): Jesus taken before Pilate again (Matthew 27: 22-26)
(7): Jesus given the crown of thorns and led to his crucifixion (Matthew 27: 27-31)

Remember that there is a Plenary Indulgence available today.

Is Holy Thursday a Holy Day of Obligation?

No, not anymore. In former times, Holy Thursday was a Holy Day of Obligation, along with all of Holy Week and all of Easter Week. However, due to the Reformation and liberalism even of those times, Holy Thursday was removed as a day of obligation long ago. It was no longer a day of obligation by the time that Pope Urban VIII listed the Holy Days of Obligation for the Univeral Church in Universa per Orbem in 1642.

Today we commemorate several important parts in the final hours of Jesus' earthly life:

(1) The eating of the Easter lamb or the paschal meal;
(2) The washing of the disciple's feet;
(3) The institution of the Most Holy Eucharist (the first Mass at which Jesus Christ, the eternal high priest, is the celebrant; the First Communion of the apostles; the first conferring of Holy Orders);
(4) The foretelling of Judas' betrayal and Peter's denials;
(5) The farewell discourse and priestly prayer of Jesus;
(6) The agony and capture of Jesus in the Garden of Olives.

1 comment(s):

del_button March 29, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Anonymous said...

Just thank you.

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