Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

The Mass today which by order of Pope Pius XII should not begin before 5 p.m. or after 8 p.m., specially commemorates the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist at the Last Supper and the Ordination of the Apostles, and is, therefore, a Mass of joy and thanksgiving. Hence the Church lays aside for the moment the penitential purple and assumes festive white vestments; the altar is decorated; the Gloria is said. During the Gloria the bells are rung, and from that time until the Easter Vigil they remain silent.

At pontifical Mass the oils are blessed for Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, and the consecration of altars and churches.

On this day an extra Ciborium is consecrated, for the Mass of the Presanctified (hence the name) on Good Friday. After the Mass this Ciborium is borne in solemn procession, during which the Pange Lingua is sung, to the altar of Repose.

The derivation of the word Maundy reminds us of the ceremony of washing the feet, called Mandatum, from the first words of the anthem: Mandatum novum do vobis [A new commandment I give unto you] (John, XIII. 34). The Mandatum takes place on this day because Our Lord washed the feet of His Apostles on this before the Institution of the Holy Eucharist from which this feast (in Latin Feria Quinta in Cœna Domini) derives its most characteristic features. The Epistle, Gospel, Secret, Communicantes (special form), the Postcommunion, the procession of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass, and the placing of the Ciborium of hosts consecrated during the Mass in a tabernacle at the “Altar of Repose” where It is to remain until the following day, are all intended to commemorate the institution of this Divine Sacrament. This day was the real Feast of the Blessed Sacrament up to the time when a special and very solemn Feast was instituted on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Private Masses are forbidden on this day. There is a general Communion at the Solemn Mass in which the priests take part, to commemorate the custom of ancient times, when in cathedral churches the holy Sacrifice was offered by the Bishop surrounded by his priests. Another ancient rite of this day is the blessing of the Holy Oils and the reconciliation of public penitents. The only trace of the reconciliation of the penitents in our present Roman Missal is the Collect of the Mass Deus a quo which is very ancient. In the early Middle ages, when these ceremonies were observed, three Masses were celebrated on this day: 1—in memory of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, 2—for the blessing of the Holy Oils; 3—for the reconciliation of the public penitents.

The second of these masses is celebrated by the Bishop before noon in his Cathedral Church surrounded by his clergy, twelve acting as Priests, seven as Deacons, and another seven as Subdeacons. After the evening Mass the Altar is stripped in order to show that the Holy Sacrifice is interrupted and will not be offered again until Holy Saturday.

During the procession to the Altar of Repose or “Holy Sepulchre” prepared for the Blessed Sacrament’s repose in a side chapel, the hymn Pange lingua, gloriosi Corporis is sung. Indulgences granted this occasion per the Raccolta: “The faithful who, in Holy Week, shall visit the Blessed Sacrament in the “Holy Sepulchre” during two days and shall say five times the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the Father in thanksgiving for the institution of the Holy Eucharist, and besides this shall utter these same prayers for the intention of His Holiness, can gain: indulgence of 15 years.—Plenary, once on these two days, under the usual conditions.” To the Pange lingua is attached an “indulgence of 7 years.—5 years, for the two strophes Tantum ergo with verse and prayer.—Plenary, under the usual conditions, if this hymn or at least the two last verses Tantum ergo with verse and prayer are daily recited during a month.”

PANGE, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.
SING, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.
Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.
In supremae nocte cenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.
Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.
Genitori, Genitoque
laus et iubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Amen. Alleluia.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
Amen. Alleluia.

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