April 12, 2017

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) | 2017

The Last Supper
The Last Supper, Juan de Juanes, 1562, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

April 13, 2017

On Holy Thursday, the Mass of Chrism is celebrated by the diocesan Bishop with his priests as concelebrants. Together they renew their priestly vows, manifesting the communion and unity of faith between the priests and their prelate. Thursday evening, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is offered, which duly celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus and His apostles on the night He was betrayed. At the Mass, the priest washes the feet of twelve individuals, just as Jesus did to give the apostles an example of priestly service. Holy Thursday is indeed an inextricable part of the salvific event of worship that is the Triduum as Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois explains:

"Holy Thursday is sometimes lost among the more popular feasts of Good Friday and of course Easter itself. The Sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of Holy Thursday evening. The opening procession, much like any Sunday opening procession, includes the server or deacon walking in with the crucifix. It is the beginning of a great celebration that will conclude with the final Easter blessing of the Easter Vigil Mass, three nights later. The server or deacon will re-emerge with the crucifix at the recessional at the Vigil Mass of Easter. Holy Thursday evening Mass, the Good Friday service of the Lord’s Passion, and the Easter Vigil together form one continuous prayer service, celebrating the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

The Last Supper – Our Lord Institutes the Most Holy Eucharist

When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Luke 22: 14-20)

Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet
Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet, Giotto, 1305, Scrovegni Chapel, Italy

Christ Establishes the Ministerial Priesthood

The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." [ … ]

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:1-7, 12-15)

Almighty ever-living God, who has called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity, of hope, and of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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