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Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday)

Holy Thursday History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Traditions, & More

Maundy Thursday Definition and Summary

Maundy Thursday, known officially in the Catholic Church as Holy Thursday, is the Thursday within Holy Week. Maundy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and Ordination, and begins the Paschal Triduum. In 2015, Holy Thursday falls on April 2nd (dates in other years). Prayer: Maundy Thursday Prayer

Basic Facts About Holy Thursday

buy Liturgical Color(s): White
Type of Holiday: Part of Lenten Fast
Time of Year: Thursday of Holy Week
Duration: One Evening
Celebrates/Symbolizes: Institution of The Eucharist and Ordination
Alternate Names: Maundy Thursday, Shear Thursday
Scriptural References: Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13; 1 Corinthians 11:22-34>

Introduction

Jesus shared his last meal with his disciples, called the Last Supper, on the night before his crucifixion. The institution of the Holy Eucharist occurred during this meal, as indicated from the gospel excerpt below:

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, and 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. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:26-29 RSV)

Since Scripture and Tradition tell us that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, Jesus shared the important Last Supper with his apostles on a Thursday. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) suggest that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal. However, John suggests that Jesus was crucified before the Passover Meal, on the Day of Preparation. Perhaps the Last Supper was done in anticipation of the Passover Meal, or was a Kiddush or some other religious meal. The gospel of John does not record the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, while the synoptic gospels do. However, John's gospel records Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Holy Thursday traditions are derived from all four gospels.

Thus Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, is the Thursday of Holy Week, commemorating the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Ordination. Holy Thursday also celebrates the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, events that took place on the night before Jesus' crucifixion. The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday begins the Triduum, which is the three-day celebration of the heart of the Christian faith: Christ's death and resurrection. The Paschal Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes with the Evening Prayer (Vespers) of Easter. Thus the Triduum includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and reaches it high point at the Great Easter Vigil. The name "Maundy" comes from the Latin antiphon Mandatum Novum, i.e. "a new mandate." This new mandate from Jesus is taken from John 13:34: love one another as I have loved you.

Various traditions and customs are associated with Maundy Thursday, including the reciting of the creed by Catechumens from memory, the washing of feet, reconciliation of penitents, and the consecration of holy oil (chrism). The modern Western Holy Thursday service has an option for the blessing of chrism and the washing of feet. After the Maundy Thursday evening Mass the altars are stripped, the holy water stoups are emptied, and the Blessed Sacrament is carried through the church in procession to a place of reposition,. Traditionally the Pange Lingua (the last two stanzas which are known as Tantum Ergo) is sung during this procession. Adoration of the blessed sacrament for an extended period of time is then encouraged. The consecrated host is then used for Good Friday Masses. The alternate and uncommon name Shear Thursday comes from the ancient custom of trimming one's beard and hair that day as a sign of spiritual preparation for Easter.

History

A special commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist on the Thursday of Holy Week is first attested to in the documents of the North African Council of Hippo (AD 393). References to Holy Thursday celebrations are abundant after this date. Since 1955 in the Catholic Church, the Maundy Thursday Mass is only celebrated in the evening, although in earlier times as many as three Masses a day were said. Traditionally, Maundy Thursday fell within the Lenten Season, although in post-Vatican II Catholic practice, Maundy Thursday is not liturgically a part of Lent, although it is still reckoned as part of the "forty days of Lent." In many Protestant churches, Holy Thursday is still liturgically part of Lent, since many Protestant churches do not recognize the Triduum as distinct from Lent.

A Holy Week Video Card From Us

Worship And Prayer Resources

Lent Prayers
Catholic Eucharist, Mass, and Communion Prayers

Holy Thursday Art, Photos, and Images

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The Blessed Sacrament (J. Bennett)

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Christ Washing Peter's Feet (Ford Maddox Brown)

More Liturgical Artwork

Art and Poetry

Christ Washing Peter's Feet (Ford Maddox Brown)
More Christian and Liturgical Artwork Page

Holy Thursday and Lent Books

              

              

Lent Reading List
More Christian & Church Year Books

Traditions and Symbols

Traditions
Washing of Feet
Trimming Hair and/or Beard
Blessing of Holy Oil

Symbols
Washing of Feet

Holy Thursday Games and Educational Materials

Lent Crossword Puzzle (html)
Lent Crossword Puzzle (pdf)
Interactive Lent Crossword Puzzle

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Paschal Triduum?
The Paschal Triduum, often called the Easter Triduum or simply the Triduum, consists of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. This includes the Great Easter Vigil, the high point of the Triduum. The word Triduum comes from the Latin word meaning "three days." It begins the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends at Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. Thus the Triduum consists of three full days which begin and end in the evening. The Triduum technically is not part of Lent (at least liturgically), but Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are still reckoned as part of the traditional forty day Lenten fast. The Triduum celebrates the heart of our faith and salvation: the death and resurrection of Christ, and is thus the high point of the liturgical year. For more information, visit our page, All About the Paschal Triduum.

2. Why Does the Church Celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist on a Thursday?

General Links

The Eucharist: The Medicine of Immortality
All About Lent
All About Holy Week
14 Questions on the Paschal Triduum
Table of Movable Major Catholic Seasons and Holidays

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This page written by . Last updated 04-21-2014.



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