Maundy Thursday of Holy Week: this evening marks the beginning of the Triduum. We reach back to the beginning of Lent to recall the confession we made on Ash Wednesday. This service is clearly different from the regular flow of the Eucharist as we celebrate it weekly, because what we commemorate this evening is different. Tonight we begin a celebration that will not end until the exultant conclusion of the Great Paschal Vigil. Tonight, we hear the words of forgiveness in a new way. It is only with the knowledge of being forgiven that we can engage the rest of the story. We watch and we eat a last supper with Jesus. We hear him offer all of himself to us, even his body and blood. We end the service with the stripping of the chancel. Adornment after adornment leaves the sanctuary as the words of the psalm drift through the air, and we are reminded of what this love will cost Jesus. We leave the service lingering. It is holy time.
At St Nicholas, for the second year in a row we’ve decided to add hand-washing to this traditional service, because of the realities of the Chicago-area flu and cold season. It encourages more people to come forward, who might otherwise not have wanted to expose their feet or for whom it’s very uncomfortable to walk barefoot.
In related news:
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Thursday next week by washing the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome, the Vatican has said.It says the pontiff is continuing a pre-Easter practice that began when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Normally feet-washing Masses before Easter are held in the Vatican or a Rome basilica.
But Pope Benedict held a feet-washing Mass at the same Casal del Marmo youth detention centre in Rome in 2007.Pope Francis will stage his feet-washing ceremony at Casal del Marmo on the afternoon of 28 March.
The washing of feet on the Thursday before Easter is a Christian tradition dating back to the time of Christ. During the service, the pope washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.