|Also called||Holy Thursday|
Great and Holy Thursday
Thursday of Mysteries
Shere from the word shere (meaning "clean" or "bright") or Sheer Thursday
|Type||Christian / Civic|
|Significance||Commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ|
|Observances||Mass; distribution of Maundy money|
|Date||Easter − 3 days|
|Related to||Holy Week and Easter|
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week that commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.
It is the fifth day of Holy Week, preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday. "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus' words "I give you a new commandment." The day comes always between March 19 and April 22, inclusive, and will vary according to whether the Gregorian calendar or the Julian calendar is used. Eastern churches generally use the Julian system.
Maundy Thursday initiates the Paschal Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; this period includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter Sunday. The Mass of the Lord's Supper or service of worship is normally celebrated in the evening, when Friday begins according to Jewish tradition, as the Last Supper was held on the feast of Passover, according to the three Synoptic Gospels.
Use of the names "Maundy Thursday", "Holy Thursday", and others is not evenly distributed. The generally accepted name for the day varies according to geographical area and religious affiliation. Thus, although in England "Maundy Thursday" is the normal term, the term "Holy Thursday" is more commonly used in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States, and is the official name used by the Catholic Church in English.
The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which is the mother Church of the Anglican Communion, uses the name "Maundy Thursday" for this observance. The corresponding publication of the US Episcopal Church, which is another province of the Anglican Communion, also refers to the Thursday before Easter as "Maundy Thursday". Throughout the Anglican Communion, the term "Holy Thursday" is a synonym for Ascension Day.
The Roman Rite of the Catholic Church uses the name "Holy Thursday" in its modern English-language liturgical books. The Latin books use the name Feria quinta in Cœna Domini ("Thursday of the Supper of the Lord"), along with Maundy Thursday as the English name, as given in The Saint Andrew Daily Missal. The personal ordinariates in the Catholic Church, which have an Anglican patrimony, retain the traditional English term "Maundy Thursday", however. An article in the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia used the term "Maundy Thursday", and some Catholic writers use the same term either primarily, or alternatively.
The Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) uses the term "Maundy Thursday"; the Book of Worship (1992) uses the term "Holy Thursday", and other official sources of the United Methodist Church use both "Maundy Thursday" and "Holy Thursday".
Both names are used by other Christian denominations as well, including the Lutheran Church or portions of the Reformed Church. The Presbyterian Church uses the term "Maundy Thursday" to refer to the holy day in its official sources.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the name for the holy day is, in the Byzantine Rite, "Great and Holy Thursday" or "Holy Thursday", and in Western Rite Orthodoxy "Maundy Thursday", "Holy Thursday" or both. The Coptic Orthodox Church uses the term "Covenant Thursday" or "Thursday of the Covenant".
The day has also been known in English as Shere Thursday (also spelled Sheer Thursday), from the word shere (meaning "clean" or "bright"). This name might refer to the act of cleaning, or to the fact that churches would switch liturgical colors from the dark tones of Lent, or because it was customary to shear the beard on that day, or for a combination of reasons. This name has cognates throughout Scandinavia, such as Danish Skærtorsdag, Swedish Skärtorsdag, Norwegian Skjærtorsdag, Faroese Skírhósdagur and Skírisdagur, and Icelandic Skírdagur.
The English word maundy in the name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word "mandate"), the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.") This statement by Jesus in chapter 13 of the Gospel of John by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung in the Roman Rite during the Maundy (Ecclesiastical Latin: "Mandatum") ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community. In 2016, it was announced that the Roman Missal had been revised to allow women to participate as part of the 12 in the Mandatum; previously, only males partook of the rite.
Others theorize that the English name "Maundy Thursday" arose from "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, "maund" is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg. A source from the Shepherd of the Springs, Lutheran Church likewise states that, if the name was derived from the Latin mandatum, we would call the day Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday; and that the term "Maundy" comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded. Other sources reject this etymology.
With Maundy Thursday commemorating the Last Supper, Christian denominations who observe this day universally celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion, which they teach was instituted by Jesus on this night.
The Maundy (washing of the feet) is practiced among many Christian groups on Maundy Thursday, including the Anglican/Protestant Episcopal, Armenian, Ethiopian, Lutheran, Methodist, Eastern Catholic, Schwarzenau (German Baptist) Brethren, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic traditions.
In the Catholic Church and in some Anglican churches, the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins as usual, but the Gloria is accompanied by the ringing of church bells, which are then silent until the Easter Vigil. After the homily the washing of feet may be performed. The Blessed Sacrament remains exposed, at least in the Catholic Mass, until the service concludes with a procession taking it to the place of reposition. The altar is later stripped bare, as are all other altars in the church except the Altar of Repose. In pre-1970 editions, the Roman Missal envisages this being done ceremonially, to the accompaniment of Psalms 21–22, a practice which continues in Anglican churches of Anglo-Catholic churchmanship. In other Christian denominations, such as the Lutheran Church or Methodist Church, the stripping of the altar and other items on the chancel also occurs, as a preparation for the somber Good Friday service.
Maundy Thursday is notable for being the day on which the Chrism Mass is celebrated in each diocese. Usually held in the diocesan cathedral, it is generally held on the morning of Maundy Thursday, but may in some dioceses take place on another day during Holy Week. It is often the largest annual gathering of clergy and faithful held in most dioceses. The Mass is a celebration of the institution of the priesthood. During the Mass, those present are called to renew their baptismal promises; priests/ministers and deacons also reaffirm their ministry by renewing the promises made at their ordination.
The Mass takes its name from the blessing of the holy oils used in the sacraments throughout the year, which are then given to priests to take back to their parishes. The Rite of Reception of the Oils by representatives of the diocesan parishes is a sign of each parish's unity with the Bishop and the diocesan Church.
The service is a 1967 restoration of the rite recorded in the early 200s by the historian Hippolytus who writes of a ceremony taking place during the Easter Vigil at which two holy oils were blessed and one was consecrated. In the fifth century, the ceremony of the oils was transferred from the Holy Saturday Vigil to Holy Thursday during a special Mass for that purpose, distinct from the Mass of the Lord's Supper. In the decree renewing this rite Pope Paul VI said, "The Chrism Mass is one of the principal expressions of the fullness of the bishop’s priesthood and signifies the closeness of the priests with him."
The Holy Oils are:
The oil of the catechumens and chrism are used on the upcoming Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil, for the baptism and confirmation of those entering the church. While the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick, are simply "blessed," the Sacred Chrism is "consecrated,". Holy chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam, an aromatic resin. Balsam is poured into the oil, which gives it a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the "odor of sanctity" to which those who are marked with it, are called to strive. The bishop breathes over the vessel containing the chrism, a gesture which symbolizes the Holy Spirit coming down to consecrate this oil, and recalls the actions of Jesus in John 20:22, when he breathed on the apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit..."
With respect to Anglicanism, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (p. 307) calls for chrism to be consecrated by the bishop. In many dioceses, the consecration of chrism by the bishop may be done at a service of reaffirmation of ordination vows during Holy Week. During the Chrism Eucharist, the Bishop will bless the oils used throughout the next year for baptisms and healing. In addition, the Bishop and clergy in attendance will reaffirm their Ordination Vows.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the liturgical colours are brighter, white being common. On this day alone during Holy Week, the fast is relaxed to permit consumption of wine and oil.
The primary service of this day is Vespers combined with the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great at which is read the first Passion Gospel (John 13:31–18:1), known as the "Gospel of the Testament", and many of the normal hymns of the Divine Liturgy are substituted with the following troparion:
Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither will I give Thee a kiss like Judas. But like the Thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.
When necessary to replenish the sacrament for communing the sick at a time not following a divine liturgy, an additional Lamb (Host) is consecrated on this day, intincted, covered, and left to dry until Holy Saturday when it is divided, completely dried with a candle flame, and the pieces placed in the artophorion.
In cathedrals and monasteries the ceremony of the Washing of Feet is normally performed. When there is need to consecrate more chrism, that is performed by patriarchs and other heads of the various autocephalous churches.
In the evening, after the Liturgy, all of the hangings and vestments are changed to black or some other dark colour, to signify the beginning of the Passion. Anticipating the Matins of Friday morning, the Holy Passion service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels is conducted. In these readings Christ's last instructions to his disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ's prayer, and his new commandment. The twelve readings are:
Oriental Orthodoxy including Coptic (Egyptian) and Ethiopian Orthodoxy which is under papacy of Pope Tawadros II The Copts celebrate Covenant Thursday on 16 April which is 1 week after the Catholics celebrate it. They have praises and vespers every day of week and on Thursday and Saturday they stay praising God and reading about the First Liturgy and Judas’ Betrayal. On Saturday they sing praises for the Entrance of the Messiah in Hades freeing all of the faithful ones including Moses and Abraham etc.
Maundy Thursday is a public holiday in most countries that were part of the Spanish empire (Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela), countries that were part of the Danish colonial empire (Denmark, Iceland, Norway and United States Virgin Islands), and in the Kerala State of India. Certain German states declare a public holiday for public sector employees. In the UK, civil servants were traditionally granted a half-day holiday (known as "privilege leave") on this date, but that was abolished, by David Cameron, after 2012.
In India, the custom is to visit fourteen churches, one per Station of the Cross. Traditionally, this is performed on Maundy Thursday evening but is more often done on the morning of Good Friday or on any day of Lent. Usually, whole families would participate, customarily fasting for the duration of the rite. It is also undertaken by parish devotional groups.
In the Philippines the tradition is called Visita Iglesia (Spanish, "church visit") – people visit churches to pray, usually reciting the Stations of the Cross. The Stations are often distributed amongst one, seven, or fourteen churches; the custom until the 1970s was to pray all fourteen in each church. It is a chiefly urban custom, as churches are located closer to each other in cities, and supposedly because it originates in visiting the seven churches of Intramuros that stood until the 1945 Bombing of Manila. The original purpose of the ritual was to venerate the Blessed Sacrament in the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday night, but since no prayers were prescribed (apart from those for the Pope), the Stations of the Cross were recited. Some Filipino liturgists, however, have sought to revive the original vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, and have composed prayers to guide contemporary worshippers.
In Singapore, the visiting of churches occurs shortly after the evening Mass of the Last Supper. Prayers at each church consist of seven repetitions of the Lord's Prayer, Ave Maria, and the Gloria Patri. Due to the new trend of late Mass times (sometimes 7 or 8 pm) to allow for more churchgoers, eight churches are the maximum number visited (even in the city area, where these are closer to each other than in outer residential areas) before these close at midnight. A festive atmosphere exists, with the sale of drinks, hot cross buns and other local snacks like the traditional kueh ko chee. Observant Catholics have a 'Last Supper' meal in anticipation of the next day's fast.
"The Last Supper" – museum copy of Master Paul's sculpture
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In the liturgies of the Three Days, the service for Maundy Thursday includes both, telling the story of Jesus' last supper and enacting the footwashing.
Holy Week, or Passion Week, the week which immediately precedes Easter, and is devoted especially to commemorate the passion of our Lord. The Days more especially solemnized during it are Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
All of Holy Week points toward the passion – the death and resurrection of Christ. The week's three final days (from sunset Thursday through sunset on Easter) complete the commemoration of Christ's passion. These three days are called the Triduum.
On the Thursday, which is known as Maundy Thursday, Christians remember the Last Supper which Jesus had with his disciples. It was the Jewish Feast of the Passover, and the meal which they had together was the traditional Seder meal, eaten that evening by the Jews everywhere.
Holy Thursday or Ascension Day. Festum Ascensionis. Le Jeudi Saint d' Ascension.
Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday. This, as the name sufficiently implies, is the anniversary of Christ's Ascension.
The season of Lent prepares the Church for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery during the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
Holy Thursday is thus sometimes called Maundy Thursday because it was on this day that Christ gave us the new commandment – the new mandate – to love one another as he loves us.
These days (approximately three 24-hour periods) begin on Maundy Thursday evening and conclude on Easter evening. On Maundy Thursday we hear the story of Jesus' last meal with his disciples and his act of service and love in washing their feet.
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Maundy Thursday is the day immediately preceding Good Friday. It was also known as Shere Thursday, probably from a custom of the priests, who on this day are said to have shaved themselves and trimmed their hair, which had been allowed to grow during the preceding six weeks. An old chronicle says 'people would this day shere theyr hedes, and clypp theyr berdes, and so make them honest against Easter Day.'
Maundy Thursday (or le mandé; Thursday of the Mandatum, Latin, commandment). The name is taken from the first few words sung at the ceremony of the washing of the feet, 'I give you a new commandment' (John 13:34); also from the commandment of Christ that we should imitate His loving humility in the washing of the feet (John 13:14–17). The term mandatum (maundy), therefore, was applied to the rite of foot-washing on this day.
Observed in the Roman Catholic Church, Maundy Thursday appears on the Lutheran, Anglican, and many Reformed liturgical calendars and is almost universally celebrated with the Lord's Supper.
This service, also called a Chrism Mass, is held during Holy Week and presided over by a synodical bishop. At this unique liturgy, the blessing of oil is coupled with a renewal of vows for rostered leaders. The traditional day for this service is Maundy Thursday).
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