· Liturgical Calendar 

  Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday  

    On this day the Church commemorates the institution of the holy sacrifice of the Mass and of the Blessed Eucharist, or the Sacrament of the Altar. The Introit of the Mass of the day is as follows: " We ought to glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection, by Whom we have been saved and delivered. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us."

he First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, xi. 20-32.
    Brethren: When you come together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord's supper. For every one taketh before his own supper to eat. And one indeed is hungry and another is drunk. What! have you not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the Church of God, and put them to shame that have not ? What shall I say to you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you: that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is My body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of Me. In like manner, also, the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the New Testament in My blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of Me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. John, xiii. 1-15.
    Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And when supper was done (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him), knowing that the Father had given Him all things into His hands, and that He came from God, and goeth to God: He riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments, and having taken a towel, girded Himself. After that, He putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to Him: Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith to Him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with Me. Simon Peter saith to Him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all. For He knew who he was that would betray Him; therefore He said: You are not all clean. Then after He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, being sat down again, He said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call Me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.

    Why did Jesus wash His disciples' feet?
    To show His humility and love, and to teach them how pure they should be in approaching the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Hence arose the pious custom that spiritual superiors and temporal rulers should on this day wash the feet of some of their subjects, usually of twelve poor persons, and afterwards serve them at table, or at least make them presents.

    Why is it that only one priest in each church says Mass today, while the rest go to communion; and why is the Blessed Sacrament carried to the repository?
    To imitate the example of Jesus Christ, Who on this day gave to His apostles His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. In like manner, all should today receive communion from one. The priests appear today in their stoles, the emblem of the spiritual dignity and power which were on this day given to the apostles, and through them to their successors. The removal of the Most Holy Sacrament to the repository signifies Jesus' going to Mount Olivet, where His Godhead concealed itself.

    Why is it that the bells are not rung until Saturday, but pieces of wood used instead; and why are the altars denuded?
    So that the Church may express her deep grief for the sufferings and death of Jesus, and remind us to mourn in silence, and in a spiritual manner to die to the world and to self; she also further indicates thereby the silence of the apostles, who out of fear at this time were dumb. The removal of the decorations from the altars signifies how Jesus, through His passion, lost His form and beauty, and was stripped of His garments, on which account the twenty-first psalm, in which all this is predicted, is said while the altars are denuded. It is also a call to sorrow and penance.

 Goffine's Devout Instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holy Days, 1896