Maundy Thursday is often firmly associated in many people's minds with a meal. Indeed, the meal of the Lord's Supper, when Jesus breaks bread and shares the cup of wine with his disciples, is one main item on the menu, but the meaning of Maundy Thursday is far more than this.
The Paschal Fast begins...
We gather for the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper but, more to the point, we are mindful that we begin the Paschal Fast, as we enter upon the one celebration which will extend over three days, finding its fulfilment in the Easter Vigil. 'We glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our resurrection, our salvation and our life.' (Galatians 6:14). And so we begin with a note of confidence, praising Christ for his passion. The cross is always before us, the symbol of sacrifice, an eloquent expression of love.
The Holy Oils
One salutory symbol slipped into the proceedings is the reception of the holy oils which have been blessed and consecrated by the bishop at the Chrism Mass. These oils will be used throughout the year in the Ministry of Christian Inititation and the the healing of the sick.
After the homily, we move to 'The Mandatum' – the mandatory washing of feet which is an beautiful expression of our need to follow the example of Jesus who, at Supper, stooped to wash his disciples' feet and commanded them (and so us) to do the same. This is the gospel proclaimed at this Evening Mass. The meaning behind this seemingly 'menial' task is also played out in the presentation of gifts for the poor which accompanies the offering of bread and wine. Our Lenten penances, the fasts we have freely accepted, bear fruit in our gifts which will be distributed to the poor. We are called to love.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper
And so to the table of the Lord – where the gifts of bread and wine are presented in obedience to yet another of Jesus' commands to 'Do this in remembrance of me.' As St Paul says, in his first letter to the Corinthians which was proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word, 'Every time we eat this bread drink this cup we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.' (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
After we have received communion, the rest of our time will be spent in quiet, contemplative prayer, as we watch and wait. The Blessed Sacrament is transferred to a side chapel. Feasting is suspended until the Easter Vigil. The altar is stripped in silence. There is no dismissal, no real ending of this liturgy. People are invited to remain in prayer, perhaps to come and go, and to continue the prayer and fasting at home. The Sacred Triduum has begun.
We hope these prayers will offer some help for you in your time of pain and sadness.
Here you will find
prayers of comfort and assurance,
prayers that help to express anger or hurt or pain,
prayers to strengthen and console,
prayers, too, for your departed loved one and to commend them to God.
May the love of God
and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and gently wipe away every tear from our eyes.
And may Almighty God bless us,
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord, in our grief we turn to you.
Are you not the God of love
always ready to hear our cries?
Listen to our prayers for (insert name)
whom you have called out of this world.
Lead him/her to your kingdom of light and peace
and count him/her among your saints in glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers of Trust
in darkness and light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us to trust your love,
to serve your purpose
and to praise your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen,
hear our prayers and comfort us;
renew our trust in your Son,
whom you raised from the dead;
strengthen our faith
that (insert name, and) all who have died
in the love of Christ
will share in his resurrection;
who lives and reigns with you, now and forever. Amen.
Prayers of Hurt and Anger
you know our hurts and share our sorrows.
We are hurt by our parting from (insert name) whom we have loved:
when we are angry at the loss we have sustained,
when we long for words of comfort,
yet find them hard to hear,
turn our grief to truer living,
our affliction to firmer hope
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Father, the death of (insert name)
brings an emptiness into our lives.
We are separated from him/her
and feel broken and bewildered.
Give us confidence that he/she is safe
and his/her life complete with you,
and bring us together at the last
to the wholeness and fullness of your presence in heaven,
where your saints and angels enjoy you for ever and ever. Amen.
When Lonely or Afraid
Risen Lord Jesus,
draw near to us as we walk this lonely road.
Pierce our weary sorrow
and gladden our heavy hearts as you go with us,
and bring us in the end to your heavenly table. Amen.
whose Son Jesus Christ said,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”,
take away our fear of death;
bring us to the place that he has gone to prepare for us;
and give us his peace for ever. Ame
We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
in whom is our dalvation, our life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.
The gospel according to John, from which the gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper is taken does, not have an account of Jesus instituting the Eucharist. Instead it is unique in providing us with an account of the Washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus.
At one time, English monarchs washed the feet of beggars in imitation of Jesus' Mandatum or command to be servants one another. They presented gifts and money to the poor. Over time, additional money was substituted for the clothing and other items that had once been distributed - known as 'The Maundy Money.'