Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

May God bless everyone this Holy Thursday. The Catholic Encyclopedia discusses the celebration of this feast through the centuries: 

The feast of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week. In Rome, various accessory ceremonies were early added to this commemoration, namely, the consecration of the holy oils and the reconciliation of penitents, ceremonies obviously practical in character and readily explained by the proximity of the Christian Easter and the necessity of preparing for it. Holy Thursday could not but be a day of liturgical reunion since, in the cycle of movable feasts, it brings around the anniversary of the institution of the Liturgy. On that day...the Church celebrated the Missa chrismalis of which we have already described (see Holy Oils) and, moreover, proceeded to the reconciliation of penitents. In Rome, everything was carried out in daylight, whereas in Africa on Holy Thursday the Eucharist was celebrated after the evening meal, in view of more exact conformity with the circumstances of the Last Supper. Canon XXIX of the Council of Carthage dispenses the faithful from fast before communion on Holy Thursday, because, on that day, it was customary to take a bath, and the bath and fast were considered incompatible...

Holy Thursday was taken up with a succession of ceremonies of a joyful character: the baptism of neophytes, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, the celebration of the Blessed Eucharist, and, because of all these ceremonies, the day received different names, all of which allude to one or another of its solemnities...(more)

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