April 20, 2011

Maundy Thursday

I received another tidbit via email:

On Holy Thursday the kiss of peace is not given at the Solemn High Mass because Holy Mother Church wants to prevent using the sign with which Judas betrayed the Lord on the evening of this day.


Mother Crab now.  That last tidbit led me to look in Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year. There I read a couple of more interesting things about Thursday's liturgy.
The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the year; and although the feast of Corpus Christi is the day for solemnly honouring the mystery of the holy Eucharist, still, the Church, would have the anniversary of the last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour.  The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christmas day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the altar and sanctuary all bespeak joy, and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mas which show that the holy bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient.  The priest entones the angelic hymn, Glory be to God in the hightest! and the bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole of the heavenly canticle: but from that moment they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of, the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year?  It is to show us that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified.  Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the apostles (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the bells, whose ringing summons the faithful to the house of God), fled from their divine Master and left Him a prey to His enemies.

The holy Sacrifice continues as usual; but at the solemn moment of the elevation of the holy Host and the Chalice of salvation, the bell is silent, and outside the the church there is not given to the neighbourhood the usual signal of the descent of Jesus upon the altar...

Another rite peculiar to to-day, is the consecration of two Hosts during the Mass.  One of these the priest receives in Communion; the other he reserves, and reverently places it in a chalice, which he covers with a veil.  The reason of this is that to-morrow the Church suspends the daily Sacrifice.  Such is the impression produced by the anniversary of our Saviour's death, that the Church dares not to renew upon her altars the immolation which was then offered on Calvary; or rather, her renewal of it will be by fixing all her thoughts on the terrible scene of that Friday noon.  The Host reserved from to-day's Mass, will be her morrow's participation.  This rite is called the Mass of the Presanctified, because, in it, the priest does not consecrate, but only receives the Host consecrated on the previous day...

In every church is prepared a richly ornamented side-chapel or pavilion, where, after to-day's Mass, the Church places the Body of her divine Lord.  Though veiled from their view, the faithful will visit Him in this His holy resting-place, pay Him their most humble adorations, and present Him their most fervent supplications.
If you are learning all of this for the first time, welcome to my club.


  1. Dear Mrs. Crab,

    Thank you for the post. Maundy Thursday is often overlooked but it is one the days that I look forward to most during the year. The solemnity of the day adds to the beauty and mystery of our Faith. Everything that is done during the Mass has a reason and your last two posts give us a glimpse of that perfectly.

    Mrs. H.

  2. Dear Mrs. H

    Your comment reminds me of the joke, "How many Abbes does it take to change a lightbulb?"

    Crabby Mom

  3. Dear Mrs. Crab (a.k.a. Crabby Patty),

    I think it is because the posts are so similar! Do you think there is a golden nugget of wisdom hidden in the joke? May be only people who are Awesome and a certain great Mr. K. really get it. Another mystery of life.

    Mrs. H.