Maundy Thursday Mass

Secular life is often parsimonious with the liturgy during the week. Here in France, school holidays no longer correspond with Easter but fixed dates in the spring time according to the region. Necessity brought me to celebrate the Maundy Thursday Missa in Coena Domini in the morning rather than in the evening as Pius XII directed for the Roman rite.

Maundy Thursday in the Use of Sarum is much more sober than in the Roman rite [I include within this category the English Missal and Anglican Missal, even though they contain elements from the Prayer Book and thus remnants of Sarum]. We don’t sing the Gloria, we don’t play around with bells, and we wear the dull red vestments of Passiontide. I compromised and wore festal red. I came to the conclusion, following the suggestions of Fathers Finegan and Keller, that it was fitting to put the second and third hosts in the hanging pyx immediately after Communion rather than a “simple Easter Sepulcre” with the influence of the Roman rite in mind. The symbolism isn’t the same. The Easter Sepulcre is for Good Friday until the early morning of Easter Sunday. The hosts are those consecrated on Maundy Thursday – so the liturgical symbolism of the Triduum remains intact.

We use one rite or the other. I use Sarum, though I allow certain liberties like using prefaces from the Rouen Missal. Rouen has a preface for Maundy Thursday. The liturgical family is the same.

We don’t have the Agnus Dei either, any more than the Kiss of Peace. The Agnus Dei is reserved to the Bishop when he celebrates the Chrismal Mass. This Mass keeps the character of Passiontide and Holy Week.

Nevertheless, in popular piety, Maundy Thursday has become a “feast of the priesthood”, and I greet all those who have sent me e-mails and messages on Facebook. It was during the Last Supper when Christ instituted both the Priesthood and the Eucharist. This is a part of our priestly spirituality and what keeps us going.

I also greet my lay readers on this day in the spirit in which a priest washes the feet of his faithful or the Bishop washes the feet of his priests, or the Pope of Rome renders the same homage to delinquent teenagers in Rome in prison, who doubtless will be touched by the grace of conversion and amendment of life.

We are called and ordained to serve and learn humility – real and profound humility, which is invisible to everyone else…

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4 Responses to Maundy Thursday Mass

  1. fatheredbakker says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us Father Anthony. I confess that I go for the festal white , we sing the Gloria and ring all bells possible , because this is the last time the bells are being heard until at the first Mass of Easter. Yes , it is our night, I agree , the humility that we demonstrate by washing the feet of our Parishioners, may it continue all the days of our Priestly life.
    Father Ed Bakker

  2. Rubricarius says:

    It is interesting to speculate whether Maundy Thursday in the Roman rite would benefit from the absence of the Gloria and bells and the use of violet, to match the rest of the day, rather than white vestments. The liturgical balance in Sarum, and similar rites, seem more authentic IMHO. The, very, late advent of ‘Altars of Repose’ had a damaging effect on the liturgical sequence of the Triduum in many ways.

    • The interesting thing about the Sarum way of doing things is that the church doesn’t become “dead” at the stripping of the altars and then the consumption of the host at the Mass of the Presanctified. Sarum marks the unity between Good Friday and the Paschal Vigil with the three hosts consecrated at the Maundy Thursday Mass. I do make one concession to the “feast of priests” theme of Maundy Thursday – wearing festal red instead of dull Passion red.

      But the essential is that we use one rite or the other and avoid the temptation to mix the two in any way. Each has its own integrity. At the same time, the longer I use Sarum, the more certain aspects of the Roman rite seem strange.

      • Rubricarius says:

        Well firstly, omitted yesterday, Happy Pascha!

        IMO the Roman rite suffered from the incorporation of festal elements, or perhaps ‘chunks’ would be a better term, of the devotional Quarant’Ore and Corpus Christi ceremonial into Holy Week. The older ideas – as expressed in Sarum and the Oriental rites – got rather distorted with the ‘Watch’ at the Altar of Repose and replaced the Sepulchre/Epitaphios elements to the extent that ‘sepulchre’ even became a term for the Urn on the Altar of Repose thereby completely confusing ideas and, I would suggest, distorting the symbolism of the Triduum.

        Maundy Thursday was clearly ferial in its nature with the main ceremonies being the Reconciliation of Penitents, the Confection of Chrism, the Mandatum and the repeated texts describing the betrayal of Christ by Judas.

        I would not agree with you about mixing rites/forms. The remarkable degree of similarity between rites in Holy Weeks owes so much to the ‘borrowing’ of what was seen by various pilgrims in Jerusalem over the centuries. As to the superiority of Sarum over 1570 Roman (and most certainly both over 1956+Roman) I would agree with you 100%.

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