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ALTAR OF REPOSE - Catholic Liturgy for Maundy Thursday
Zenit News Agency ^ | March 15, 2005 | Father Edward McNamara

Posted on 03/15/2005 10:33:09 PM PST by NYer

ROME, MARCH 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: What should be the atmosphere of the altar of repose for Maundy Thursday? Should it be an atmosphere of grandeur since the Lord instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood? Or should it be solemn, as we recall the Lord's agony in the garden?

Since the renovation in 1999, our tabernacle has been transferred to the side altar. Now it's not very visible as it is blocked away by huge pillars. I feel it has lost its significant especially during the Maundy Thursday's liturgy. Before, the priest transferred the Eucharist from the central tabernacle, which was behind the main altar, to the side altar. Now the Eucharist goes back into the same tabernacle on Holy Thursday as there isn't another suitable place for an altar of repose. As a designer, I feel I should do something to highlight the tabernacle for this special night.

Our new tabernacle now sits independently on an old altar at the side. Now the question is to decorate the altar of repose -- is it wrong to cover the entire tabernacle and the old altar with a huge piece of translucent white linen that touches the floor? The tabernacle, under the translucent veil, is still visible as it has a powerful light shining from within. This creates a very solemn look. The idea represents the Lord in his suffering state -- being submitted into human hands and is moving on into his passion and death. To me, that's a very powerful visual but some feel it's too abstract. Could you please comment? -- V.C., Singapore

A: The place of reposition should be as beautiful as possible and should be sufficiently prominent so as to allow for adoration, even by large groups, following the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

In 1988 the Holy See published "Paschales Solemnitatis," a "Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts."

No. 49 of this document refers to our topic: "For the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, a place should be prepared and adorned in such a way as to be conducive to prayer and meditation, seriousness appropriate to the liturgy of these days is enjoined so that all abuses are avoided or suppressed.

"When the tabernacle is located in a chapel separated from the central part of the church, it is appropriate to prepare the place of repose and adoration there."

With respect to the last point I would say that if the abovementioned chapel is too small to accommodate the faithful who visit on Holy Thursday, then a separate place of reposition may be prepared.

The case you describe is not a separate chapel, but a separate altar and so, if possible, it would be more appropriate to prepare another place for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.

Should there be no other option, then the procession bringing the Eucharist to this tabernacle should at least take a longer route within the Church so as to give meaning to this rite.

The altar of repose need not be a real altar and is often a temporary structure. In some places it is customary to make the place of reposition resemble an altar while others prefer locating the tabernacle on a column to make it stand out more clearly.

If a spare tabernacle is not available, the norms permit the use of a closed ciborium, though constant supervision must be assured in order to avoid any danger of profanation. Exposition with a monstrance is never permitted on Holy Thursday.

The decoration of the altar of repose should be special, At least four or six candles or lamps, and preferably more, should burn around it and should be tastefully arranged with flowers, drapes, fine cloths, carpets and a judicious use of subdued electric lighting in order to create the necessary ambiance of silence and meditation.

In those countries where it is possible, wheat stalks and young olive trees may also be incorporated into the decoration in order to evoke the themes of Eucharist and the garden of Gethsemane.

"Paschales Solemnitatis," No. 55, reflecting the liturgical reform, specifies: "The place where the tabernacle or pyx is situated must not be made to resemble a tomb, and the expression 'tomb' is to be avoided. The chapel of repose is not prepared so as to represent the 'Lord's burial' but for the custody of the eucharistic bread that will be distributed in Communion on Good Friday."

Any crosses or images that might be behind the tabernacle should be concealed using curtains or drapes of white, gold or some similar hue so that nothing distracts from the tabernacle.

With respect to your specific point of having the tabernacle visible behind a translucent cloth, I think that it is not a good option as the point of the place of reposition is to emphasize the tabernacle on this night. If it is not possible to move the tabernacle, then I am sure that a creative rearrangement of the cloths is possible.

"Paschales Solemnitatis," No. 56, briefly evokes the prevailing atmosphere for the adoration before the altar of repose: "After the Mass of the Lord's Supper the faithful should be encouraged to spend a suitable period of time during the night in the church in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which has been solemnly reserved. Where appropriate, this prolonged Eucharistic adoration may be accompanied by the reading of some part of the Gospel of St. John (chapters 13-17).

"From midnight onwards, however, the adoration should be made without external solemnity, because the day of the Lord's passion has begun."

Thus the ambience should be meditative and silent. Even special activities organized for young people should strive to respect this spiritual climate, interspersing silence, brief readings, commentary and one or two meditative hymns or chants relating to the mystery being celebrated.


TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; History; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: maundythursday

1 posted on 03/15/2005 10:33:10 PM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

How is this practiced in your parish?


2 posted on 03/15/2005 10:35:53 PM PST by NYer ("The Eastern Churches are the Treasures of the Catholic Church" - Pope John XXIII)
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To: NYer

I went to Maundy Thursday service last year in my presbyterian church and it was very moving. I hope I can get out of work tomorrow in time to make it to the service tomorrow night. God Bless!


3 posted on 03/23/2005 8:15:27 PM PST by buckeyesrule (God bless Condi Rice!)
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To: NYer

Thanks for posting this.


4 posted on 03/23/2005 8:24:36 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

The altar boys were practicing stripping the altar tonight as I finished my Rosary after Mass.


5 posted on 03/23/2005 8:25:09 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

Adoration from after Mass to midnight.


6 posted on 03/23/2005 8:26:30 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

MAUNDY Thursday? Excuse me?

In my parish it is HOLY THursday and due to the construction of the building (and that it's the Cathedral) the Altar of Repose is in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. It's not quite big enough in a church that size, but that can't be helped. Anyway, on such occasions, all the candles are lit, not just the red Tabernacle lights, and there are flowers everywhere. I don't remember veils covering the mosaics, but in my old parish, the Altar of Repose was under an Icon that was always covered with a drape. And it was a special altar built just for the purpose. Most churches around here have a separate altar for repose. I actually like it better that way with the main Tabernacle open.

The processional will be to Pange Lingua. There's nothing else to it. Everything is done by the book, but then, Burke is the archbishop here. Everything. Down to the clacker. Clouds of incense. It's really something to see and hear.


7 posted on 03/23/2005 8:30:50 PM PST by Desdemona
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To: Desdemona

"Maundy Thursday" is also a common expression for tomorrow.


8 posted on 03/23/2005 8:33:38 PM PST by sinkspur ("Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.")
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To: sinkspur
"Maundy Thursday" is also a common expression for tomorrow.

In these parts, only the protestants call it that. I refuse to refer to it in my church by that name.

9 posted on 03/23/2005 8:35:37 PM PST by Desdemona
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To: NYer

Well the priest at my FORMER parish left The Most Blessed Sacrament in what looked like a large wooden salad bowl (that he thought was a ciborium) uncovered in a classroom off the auditorium (large ugly building that they have mass in because the real church is too small for everyone.)


10 posted on 03/23/2005 8:49:30 PM PST by murphE (Each of the SSPX priests seems like a single facet on the gem that is the alter Christus. -Gerard. P)
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To: Desdemona; sinkspur; NYer
In answer to the questions about the phrase "Maundy Thursday":

March 24, 2005

The Washing of Feet

At the Last Supper on the night before he died, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. This is told only in John’s Gospel. John does not tell us about what Jesus did with the bread and wine. He wanted to place the washing of feet front and center.

When Jesus finishes, he says, “As I have done for you, you should also do.” These words are very similar and just as strong – as the words of Jesus in Luke after the bread: “Do this in memory of me.”

Because in John’s Gospel Jesus commanded us to do this, it is called the “mandatum” (Latin for “mandate”). This is why one often hears this day referred to as “Maundy Thursday.”

The washing of the feet is meant to express a simple act of kindness and service, and it has been part of the liturgy of Holy Thursday for over 1.500 years.

* * *

For many years, it was customary to confess one’s sins at the beginning of Lent. Those in the Order of Penitents (preparing to return to the Catholic Church) received absolution on Holy Thursday morning. They were then able to enter fully into the Triduum which began that evening.

11 posted on 03/23/2005 10:05:32 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Desdemona
In these parts, only the protestants call it that. I refuse to refer to it in my church by that name.

Ah, Des, "Maundy" is an antique English corruption of the Latin word "mandatum", the first word of a verse from the Gospel in the Vulgate, John 13:34:

Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem ...

"I give unto you a new commandment: that you love one another ..."

You can't really get a whole lot more Catholic than that. "Maundy Thursday" long predates the Reformation.

12 posted on 03/23/2005 10:06:13 PM PST by Campion
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To: Desdemona

So Maundy Thursday actually is Catholic in origin.....from the Latin word, "mandatum" meaning mandates......referring to the mandate that Christ gave the apostles at the Last Supper.

"Do this in memory of me." from Luke.

“As I have done for you, you should also do.” from John.


13 posted on 03/23/2005 10:07:40 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Campion

Sorry I missed you in the post on Maundy Thursday. Please know that the word is Catholic in origin.


14 posted on 03/23/2005 10:08:29 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
The washing of the feet is meant to express a simple act of kindness and service

Ah, I believe it's connected with the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which (along with the institution of the Eucharist) are the two things we principally commemorate on Maundy Thursday.

15 posted on 03/23/2005 10:09:08 PM PST by Campion
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To: Campion

Sorry I missed you in the post on Maundy Thursday. But you have the evidence too.


16 posted on 03/23/2005 10:09:45 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

We just were writing similar stuff at the same time. Great minds ... (etc.) ;-)


17 posted on 03/23/2005 10:10:03 PM PST by Campion
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To: Campion

**I believe it's connected with the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which (along with the institution of the Eucharist) are the two things we principally commemorate on Maundy Thursday.**

Absolutely true.


18 posted on 03/23/2005 10:11:28 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Campion

**I believe it's connected with the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which (along with the institution of the Eucharist) are the two things we principally commemorate on Maundy Thursday.**

Absolutely true.


19 posted on 03/23/2005 10:11:30 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Sorry about the double click there.


20 posted on 03/23/2005 10:14:07 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Campion

Thank you for the linguistics lesson. I call it Holy Thursday. It's always been that way to me. Part of it is because I grew up in a place not founded by the English, but the French.

I'm a creature of habit, and no that does not refer to my clothes.

I'll think about it, but some past experiences make that word a visceral reaction. Please, understand.


21 posted on 03/24/2005 4:22:45 AM PST by Desdemona
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To: Desdemona; Campion; Salvation

RE: Maundy/Holy Thursday, it's interesting how various ethnic/language groups "name" days - and there is a THIRD "mystery" to be contemplated and recalled on this day, according to the Missale Romanum, besides the two that have been noted in this thread thus far.

From the Oxford Companion to the Year:

"The Thursday before Easter, from Mandatum novum do vobis (John 13:34), the beginning of the first antiphon in the ceremony of foot-washing. IN England, as formerly in many countries, the sovereign distributes Maundy money: one silver penny to one poor man and one poor woman for each year of the sovereign's age. It is also known as 'Sheer', 'Char', 'Shrift' and 'Sharp' Thursday (said by John Mirk in the fourteenth century to derive from cutting of hair or beards before Easter); in Germany it is GRU(e)DONNERSTAG, 'Green Thursday', after green branches given to penitents who had confessed on Ash Wednesday. Maundy Thursday is also sometimes called 'Holy Thursday', but this name is also give to Ascension Day.

In the mid 19th century in Rome it was the Roman nobility who washed the feet. Mary Crawford Fraser (b. 1851) recalls viewing the ceremony in Rome in her childhood:

'By Holy Thursday many thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Italy, but more especially from the South, had arrived in Rome; foreigners from all over the world flocked to the hotels, but little notice was taken of them. The housing and caring for the poor peasants, some of whom had walked two hundred miles or more, in great companies, praying and singing hymns all the way, occupied all the attention of the authorities. The were the personal guests of the Holy Father, and were made to feel that they were his very beloved children. The vast building of the 'Santo Spirito', which ran all the way from the Castel'Sant'Angelo to the Piazza of St. Peter's, was portioned out into dormitories and refectories where food and lodging was provided for all who had brought the necessary recommendation from their Parish Priest . . .

The greatest ladies in the world, in Court dress of black velvet and a long black veil, and wearing their most magnificent family jewels, came to do honour to the Pope's guests. The received the contadine and their babies and led them to the tables loaded with good things which ran down the hall, guiding them to their places, where each found her supper separately laid out. But before enjoying this, the poor dusty feet that had travelled so far must be washed, and the Princesses, following Christ's example, went around from one to another on their knees to perform this kindly act. The first time I witnessed it I found myself beside the group under Princess Massimo's care, and I shall never forget my amazement when I saw that dear and holy lady stagger forward with a tub of steaming hot water, and then kneel down and gently remove the sandals and stockings of a young woman who carried a tiny baby in her arms and who, as I knew by her costume, must have come from the further fastnesses of the Apennines. The Princess was wearing the famous Massimo pearls, string after string of enormous shimmering globes, which hung so far below her waist that they kept getting hopelessly mixed up with the hot water and soapsuds. Talking kindly to the dazzled contadina, she made a very thorough job of her distasteful taks, and when it was accomplished carried away her tub like any hospital nurse and prepared to attend to the next on the bench. For three nights, from Holy Thursday to Easter Eve, she and her peers rendered this tribute to poverty and faith, while their husbands and sons did the same for the men on the other side of the building.' (p. 618).

The Roman Missal currently in use specifies the title and the mysteries of the day in these words:

MISSALE ROMANUM, editio typica tertia, 2002:

FERIA V IN CENA DOMINI [Thursday in/of THE SUPPER OF THE LORD]

9. Post proclamationem Evangelii sacerdos habet homiliam, in qua illustrantur potissima mysteria quae hac Missa recoluntur, instiutio scilicet Eucharistiae et ordinis sacerdotalis necnon et mandatum Domini de caritate fraterna.

[After the proclamation of the Gospel, the priest gives the homily, in which are illustrated the chief mysteries which are reflected on in this Mass, namely, the institution of the Eucharist and the priestly order, as well as (necnon also has the sense of "no less than") the Lord's commandment regarding fraternal charity.]


22 posted on 03/29/2006 9:30:02 AM PST by TaxachusettsMan
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To: Desdemona

Maundy is from the Latin word for "command", "Mandatum". This night Christ told his disciples to serve others as he had served them.

"Love one another as I have loved you."


23 posted on 04/13/2006 11:27:46 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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