"Maundy," the unusual adjective descriptive of this day, comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning "commandment," because this is the day on which the Lord gave the "new commandment" that we are to love one another. On this day He exemplified this love by washing the disciples' feet and also instituted the Lord's Supper, in which all of us who share the one bread are made one body in Christ. (Patrick Henry Reardon. Spring 2013 - The Daily Devotional Guide by Patrick Henry, The Fellowship of St. James)So, our liturgy this evening (at 7pm) will include all those things: the new commandment, the foot washing and the Lord's Supper.
Foot WashingFoot washing can be a challenge for those who are not used to it—all a bit too up close and a little creepy. Eleven years ago a woman wrote me the following note after Maundy Thursday worship and her first experience of foot washing:
Lent is one of the Church seasons when I quietly reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross and his crucifixion. Maundy Thursday seems to me to be almost as sorrowful a day as Good Friday. The foot-washing ceremony is something I never took part in. This year as Maundy Thursday approached several of my friends told me what a powerful service they thought the foot-washing was.
After a day and night of prayer and meditation, I realized that pride had kept me from the foot washing. Because of my hammer toes and rotten looking feet, I had never wanted anyone to see them.
At the Maundy Thursday service, I was still ambivalent about having my feet washed. Images of Jesus washing his disciples feet flooded my thoughts and I said to myself, “Do it.”
As my feet were being washed, a feeling of great humility came over me. As they were being dried, I felt a great desire to wash another’s feet. While doing so, I was filled with ecstasy and great emotion. I felt myself to be in a more spiritual realm. My soul was filled with wonderment and love. I was at the foot of the cross; a more fervent believer than ever before.Why was this experience so powerfully moving for this dear saint? When words aren’t enough, we perform rituals. A good ritual says something more than mere words can say. That’s what rituals are for. So we take a tuna casserole over when someone has had a loved one die. We give an aching spouse a back-rub. And we wash feet. Not because the feet need cleaning, but because our souls do. And we go the altar to eat little wafers and take tiny sips of wine, not because our bodies need them for sustenance, but because our souls do.
Nonetheless—All may, none must, some should.
Prayer VigilAfter our Maundy Thursday service this evening:
Following an ancient tradition, there will be an opportunity to watch for one hour in prayer as Jesus did at Gethsemane before the crowd came to arrest him.
A Maundy ManifestoThis sums it all up for today:
Love one another.
Wash one another’s feet (it's about holiness, not hygiene).
Eat the bread.
Drink the wine.
In remembrance of him.
Day Two and ThreeThe Triduum continues at StB with:
2pm: silent meditation around the Stations of the Cross
3pm: The Celebration of the Lord's Passion
It ends at StB with:
The Great Vigil of Easter as the sun goes down at 752pm.