Maundy Thursday

Thursday 1 April 2010

Holy Thursday
1st Class, White and Violet

Réspice, quæsumus, Dómine, super hanc famíliam tuam, pro qua Dóminus noster Jesus Christus non dubitávit mánibus tradi nocéntium, et crucis subíre torméntum : sed dicitur sub silentio : Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum : Amen.

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the Cross. Here is added silently : Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end : Amen.


The Mass of Holy Thursday is celebrated in the evening. The Mandatum may take place after the Gospel. There is a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose; thereafter the Altar is stripped.

From the General Decree of November 16, 1955 restoring the Liturgy of Holy Week (Maxima Redemptionis):

'Let the faithful be taught about the love with which Christ our Lord 'on the day before He suffered' instituted the sacred and holy Eucharist, sacrifice and Sacrament, the perpetual memorial of His Passion, to be offered day by day through the ministry of His priests. Let the faithful be invited to render due adoration after the end of the Mass to the most holy Sacrament. Finally, wherever to illustrate the Lord's commandment of brotherly love the Washing of the Feet is carried out according to the restored rubrics, let the faithful be taught the deep significance of this holy rite, and let them spend this day in works of Christian charity.'

The Mass today, which by order of Ven. Pope Pius XII should not begin before 5 p.m. or after 8 p.m., specially commemorates the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist at the Last Supper, and the Ordination of the Apostles, and is, therefore, a Mass of joy and thanksgiving. Hence the Church lays aside for the moment the penitential purple, and assumes festive white vestments; the Altar is decorated; the Gloria is said. During the Gloria the bells are rung, and from that time until the Easter Vigil they remain silent.

At pontifical Mass the oils are blessed for Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction and the consecration of altars and churches.

On this day an extra Ciborium is consecrated for the 'Mass' of the Presanctified (hence the name) on Good Friday. After the Mass this Ciborium is borne in solemn Procession, during which the Pange Lingua is sung, to the Altar of Repose.

The derivation of the word Maundy reminds us of the ceremony of washing the feet, called Mandatum, from the first words of the Antiphon: Mandatum novum do vobis (John 13:34). The Mandatum takes place on this day because our Lord washed the feet of His Apostles before the Institution of the Holy Eucharist from which this feast (in Latin Feria Quinta in Coena Domini) derives its most characteristic features. The Epistle, Gospel, Secret, Communicantes (special form), the Postcommunion, the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass, and the placing of the Ciborum of Hosts consecrated during the Mass in a tabernacle at the 'Altar of Repose' where It is to remain until the following day, are all intended to commemorate the institution of this Divine Sacrament. This day was the only Feast of the Blessed Sacrament up to the time when a special and very solemn Feast was instituted on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Private Masses are forbidden on this day. There is a general Communion at the Solemn Mass in which the priest takes part, to commemorate the custom of ancient times, when in cathedral churches the holy Sacrifice was offered by the Bishop, surrounded by his priests. Another ancient rite of this day is the Blessing of the Holy Oils and the reconciliation of public penitents. The only trace of the reconciliation of the penitents in our present Roman Missal is the Collect of the Mass 'Deus a quo' which is very ancient. In the early Middle Ages, when these ceremonies were observed, three Masses were celebrated on this day: (1) in memory of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, (2) for the Blessing of the Holy Oils, and (3) for the reconciliation of public penitents. The second of these Masses is celebrated by the Bishop before noon in his Cathedral Church surrounded by his clergy.

After the evening Mass the Altar is stripped in order to show that the holy Sacrifice is interrupted and will not be offered again until Holy Saturday is ending.

Note: On Thursday and Friday Vespers are omitted, since the liturgical functions of the two days replace them, Compline is chanted in choir after the function.


Holy Thursday in Rome (Santissima Trinità dei Pelegrini):-


Please note: during the three days of the Triduum, the St Margaret Schola will sing Tenebrae (chanted Solemn Matins and Lauds) form 10.00am, in St Mary's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh (Scotland). The Schola was founded in 2009 to promote Gregorian Chant within the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and sings monthly Vespers in the Cathedral.

All are welcome to join the Schola for this opportunity to pray with the ancient music of the Church, particularly at this most sacred of times. Please see for updates and further information.



Please note: on Thursday 1st, Friday 2nd, and Saturday 3rd the St Margaret Schola will sing the Office of Tenebrae (Solemn Morning Prayer) within St Mary's RC Cathedral at 10.00am each day. All are welcome to join the Schola - now in its second year - for this opportunity to pray with the ancient music of the Church.

Please see for updates and further information.

(image: Holy Thursday at the FSSP's Wigratzbad Seminary)

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