Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday. I thought it might be a good idea to tell a little about Maundy Thursday since many people aren't familiar with it. I had never heard of it until a few years ago.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter that celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It commemorates four events: 1) the washing of the Disciples' feet by Jesus, 2) the symbolic eating of the bread and wine (Holy Eucharist in some churches), 3) Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and 4) his betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

The term Maundy Thursday originated in Medieval England. Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mande, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" -- which means "A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you." This is taken from John 13:34 after Jesus had washed the disciple's feet and sent Judas on his way.

Church services held on this day typically include washing of feet, The Lord's Supper, and a recounting of the events of the night prior to Jesus being taken by the Sanhedrin. Typically the account in the book of John is used because of its extensive treatment of the events of that night.

Maundy Thursday is commemorated in many different ways in countries throughout the world. The giving of alms to the poor by the English Monarchy on this night is a tradition that dates back to King Edward I. The giving of coins to the poor is common in numerous countries. In the Philippines, the tradition called Visita Iglesia, or "Church visit" is carried out. In this tradition, the faithful visit 14 different churches as a pilgrimage and say the Stations of the Cross, with one station at each church. Many do this during the "hours of adoration" which occur usually between 8pm and Midnight.

Maundy Thursday is an important Christian tradition. It should be a reminder to us all of the price that Jesus paid for our sins.

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