THE RECONCILIATION OF PENITENTS
Three solemn Masses were anciently celebrated on this day; and the first was preceded by the absolution of the public Penitents, and their re-admission into the Church. The following was the order of the service for the Reconciliation of Penitents. They presented themselves at the Church door, clad in penitential garb, and bare-footed. The hair of both head and beard had been allowed to grow from Ash Wednesday, the day on which they had received their penance. The Bishop recited, in the sanctuary, the seven Psalms, in which David expresses his sorrow for having offended God.
These were followed by the Litany of the Saints. During these prayers, the Penitents were prostrate in the porch, for entrance into the Church was forbidden them. Thrice during the Litany, the Bishop deputed some of the clergy to go and visit them, in his name, and bear them words of hope and consolation. The first time, two Sub-Deacons went to them and said: As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live. The second time, two other Sub-Deacons were sent, with this message: Thus saith the Lord: Do penance; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Finally, a Deacon was commissioned to go to them, and say: Lift up your heads; lo! your redemption is nigh. After these announcements of approaching pardon, the Bishop left the Sanctuary and went towards the Penitents, as far as half way down the centre nave, where was prepared a seat, turned towards the door which led into the porch, where the Penitents were still lying prostrate. The Pontiff being seated the Archdeacon addressed him in these words: Venerable Pontiff! The acceptable time has come, the day of God’s mercy and of man’s salvation, when death was destroyed, and eternal life began. This is the time, when, in the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth, new plants are to be set, and the detestableness of the old growth is to be pruned away. For though there be no period of time, which is not rich in the goodness and mercy of God, yet now indulgence produces a more abundant remission of sins, and grace yields a more plentiful number of the regenerated. Those that are regenerated add to our ranks; those that return, increase our numbers.
There is a laver of water; there is a laver of tears. From the one, there is joy because of the admittance of them that are called; from the other, there is gladness because of them that repent. Therefore it is, that these thy suppliant servants, after having fallen into sundry kinds of sins, by the neglect of the divine commandments, and the transgression of the moral law, humbled and prostrate, cry out to the Lord in these words of the Prophet: We have sinned: we have done unjustly; we have committed iniquity: have mercy on us, 0 Lord! It has not been in vain, that they have heard the words of the Gospel: Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. As it is written, they have eaten the bread of sorrow; they have watered their couch with tears; they have afflicted their hearts with mourning, and their bodies with fasting, that thus they might recover the health of soul, which they had lost. The grace of penance, therefore, is one; but it profits each one that receives it, and gives help to all in common. The Bishop then rose, and advanced towards the Penitents. He spoke to them concerning the mercy of God, and how they should live for the time to come. After this exhortation, he thus addressed them: Come, come, come, my children! I will teach you the fear of the Lord. The Choir then sang this Antiphon, taken from the 33rd Psalm: Come ye to him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded. Hereupon, the Penitents got up, and, coming to the Bishop, threw themselves at his feet. The Archpriest then pleaded for them in these words: Make good in them, O Apostolic Pontiff, all that has been corrupted in them by the temptation of the devil! By the merit of thy prayers and intercession, and by the grace of the divine reconciliation, bring these men nigh unto God. Thus, they who, heretofore, suffered by the sins they committed, may now be happy in the hope, that, having over come the author of their death, they may please the Lord, in the land of the living. The Bishop answered: Knowest thou, if they be worthy of reconciliation? The Archpriest replied: I know, and bear witness, that they are worthy. A Deacon then ordered the Penitents to rise. This done, the Bishop took one of them by the hand, who did the same to his neighbour ; and thus all, hand in hand, followed the Bishop to the place prepared in the centre of the nave. Meanwhile, the Choir sang the following Antiphons: / say unto you, there is joy to the Angels of God over one sinner doing penance. It behoveth thee, my son, to rejoice; for thy brother was dead, and, has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.
THE BLESSING OF THE HOLY OILS
The second Mass which used, formerly, to be said on Maundy Thursday, was that of the Blessing of the Holy Oils. This holy function, which takes place but once each year, requires a Bishop as the consecrator. For now many centuries, this great ceremony is celebrated at the single Mass, which is said, on this day, in commemoration of our Lord’s Supper. As this Blessing only takes place in Cathedral Churches, we will not enter into each detail; and yet we would not deprive our readers of what they ought to know with regard to the Holy Oils. Faith teaches us, that, as we are regenerated by water, so are we confirmed and fortified by oil ; and that Oil is one of the chief elements chosen by the Divine Author of the Sacraments, whereby to signify and produce grace in our souls. The reason of the Church’s selecting Maundy Thursday for the Blessing of the Holy Oils, was that they would be so much needed for the Baptism of the neophytes on Easter Eve
It behoves the Faithful to understand the mystery of those sacred elements. We will, therefore, briefly explain it to them, in order that we may excite their hearts to gratitude to our Blessed Lord, who has made material things the instruments of grace, and, by his Blood, has given them the sacramental power which resides within them. The first of the Holy Oils, that is, the first that is blessed by the Bishop, is the one called the Oil of the Sick. It is the matter of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. It takes away, from the dying Christian, the remnants of sin; it strengthens him in his last combat; and, by the supernatural power it possesses, sometimes restores to him the health of the body. Formerly, it used to be blessed on any day of the year, as often as required: but, later on, its Blessing was fixed for this day, that thus the three Oils might be blessed all together. The Faithful should assist, with much devotion, at this ceremony; for the element that is thus sanctified, is one day to anoint and purify their bodies, sinking under sickness. Let them, as they see it being blessed, think upon their last hour, and praise the infinite goodness of their Saviour, “whose blood streams so plentifully through ” this precious fluid.”
THE MASS OF MAUNDY THURSDAY
Double of the First Class White Vestments
STATION AT ST. JOHN LATERAN
The Catholic Church commemorates today the institution, by our Savior, of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar by our Savior
Double of the First Class White Vestments
MASS OF OUR LORD’S SUPPER
The Church intends, on this day, to renew, in a most solemn manner, the mystery of the Last Supper: for our Lord himself, on this occasion of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, said to his Apostles Do this for a Commemoration of me. Let us, therefore, resume the Gospel narrative. Jesus is in the Supper chamber, where the Paschal Lamb is to be eaten. All the Apostles are with him; Judas is there, also, but his crime is not known to the rest. Jesus approaches the table, on which the Lamb is served. His Disciples stand around him. The ceremonies prescribed by God to Moses are religiously observed. At the beginning of the repast, Jesus speaks these words to his Apostles: With desire J have desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer. In saying this, he does not imply that the Pasch of this year is intrinsically better than those that have preceded it; but, that it is dearer to him, inasmuch as it is to give rise to the institution of the new Pasch, which he has prepared for man kind, and which he is now going to give them as his last gift: for as St. John says, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
INTROIT: Galatians 6: 14
But it behooves us to glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by Whom we are saved and delivered, Ps. 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. Amen.
Psalm: 66: 2
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. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
But it behooves us…
Nos autem gloriári opórtet in Cruce Dómnni nostri Jesu Christi: in quo est salus, vita, et resurréctio nostra: per quem salváti, et liberáti sumus.
Psalm – 66: 2
Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri. V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Nos autem …
O God, from whom Judas received the punishment of his guilt, and the thief the reward of his confession, grant us the effect of Thy clemency; that even as in His passion our Lord Jesus Christ gave to each a different recompense according to his merits, so may He deliver us from our old sins and grant us the grace of His Resurrection. Who with Thee livest and reignest.
Deus, a quo et Judas reatus sui pœnam, et confessionis suæ latro præmium sumpsit, concede nobis tuæ propitiationis effectum; ut, sicut in passione sua Jesus Christus, Dominus noster, diversa utrisque intulit stipendia meritorum; ita nobis, ablato vetustatis errore, resurrectionis suæ gratiam largiatur. Qui tecum vivit et regnat.
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 11: 20-32
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
Brethren: When you come therefore 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 I also 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 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.
Gradual: Philippians 2: 8, 9
Christ became obedient for us unto death, even to the death of the cross.
For which cause God also exalted Him and hath given Him a Name which is above all names.
Gospel: John 13: 1-
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. John
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, the son of Simon the Iscariot, 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 set 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.
“A Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” is not meant to be a mere inspirational drama, but a heartfelt prayer, a Catholic meditation.
It should be viewed as such: Focused. Silent. Penitent.
“When the priest kisses the altar, he is kissing Christ, *faithfully,* in contradiction to the kiss of betrayal by Judas.” In a sense, the priest is making atonement for the betrayal of Judas.
“The priest reading the Introit represents Christ being falsely accused by Annas and blasphemed.”
“The priest going to the middle of the altar and saying the Kyrie Eleison represents Christ being brought to Caiphas and these three times denied by Peter.”
“The priest saying the ‘Dominus vobiscum’ represents Christ looking at Peter and converting him.”
“The priest saying the ‘Orate Fratres‘ represents Christ being shown by Pilate to the people with the words ‘Ecce Homo.'”
“The priest praying in a low voice represents Christ being mocked and spit upon.”
“The priest blessing the bread and wine represents Christ being nailed to the cross.”
“The priest elevating the host represents Christ being raised on the cross.”
“The priest goes to the Epistle side and prays signifying how Jesus was led before Pilate and falsely accused.”
“The priest goes to the Gospel-side, where he reads the Gospel, signifying how Christ was sent from Pilate to Herod, and was mocked and derided by the latter.”
“The priest goes from the Gospel side again to the middle of the altar – this signifies how Jesus was sent back from Herod to Pilate.”
“The priest uncovers the chalice, recalling how Christ was stripped for the scourging.”
“The priest offers bread and wine, signifying how Jesus was bound to the pillar and scourged.”
“The priest washes his hands, signifying how Pilate declared Jesus innocent by washing his hands.”
“The priest covers the chalice after the Offertory recalling how Jesus was crowned with thorns.”
“The priest breaking and separating the host represents Christ giving up His spirit.” Michael Sestak
Stripping of the Altars
As soon as Vespers are over, the Celebrant returns to the Sanctuary, assisted by the Deacon and Subdeacon. He goes to the Altar, and takes off the cloths and ornaments. This ceremony signifies the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice. The Altar should be left in this denuded state, until the daily offering can be again presented to the Divine Majesty; that is, when the Spouse of the holy Church shall arise from the Grave, the Conqueror of Death. He is now in the Hands of his enemies, the Jews, who are about to strip him of his garments, just as we strip the Altar. He is to be exposed naked to the insults of the rabble : and for this reason, the Psalm selected to be recited during this mournful ceremony is the 21st, wherein the Messias speaks of the Roman Soldiers’ dividing his garments among them.
Antiphon: Psalm 21: 19
They parted my garments amongst them, and upon my vesture they cast lots.
He pronounces the opening words of Psalm 21 in the same voice, the assistants or Choir singing the rest of the Psalm. The Celebrant and ministers strip the altar.
My God, my God, look upon me: why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins. O my God, I shall cry by day and Thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me. But Thou dwellest in the holy place, O Thou Praise of Israel. In Thee our fathers have hoped: they have hoped, and Thou hast delivered them. They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm and no man: a reproach of men, and the outcast of the people. All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged their head. He trusted the Lord, let Him rescue him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighteth in him. For Thou art He that hast drawn me out of the womb: my hope from the breasts of my mother. I was cast upon Thee from the womb. From my mother’s womb thou art my God: depart not from me.
They parted my garments amongst them, and upon my vesture they cast lots.
After having stripped the High Altar, the Celebrant takes off the Cloths from the other Altars that are in the Church. An air of desolation pervades the Temple of God. The very Tabernacle has lost its Divine Guest. The Ciborium, (in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved for Viaticum,) has been taken to the place, where reposes the Chalice containing the Body of our Lord. The Majesty of our God has withdrawn to that mysterious Sanctuary, into which we enter not but with silence and compunction. It was the custom, in some Churches, for the Priest to wash, in the afternoon, the Altars with wine and water, which he sprinkled upon them with a branch of hyssop. This ceremony, (which has now ceased to be observed in almost every Church, excepting at St. Peter’s, in Rome,) was intended as a homage offered to our Blessed Lord, in return for the humility, wherewith he deigned to wash the feet of his Disciples. We find it so explained by St. Isidore of Seville, and St. Eligius, Bishop of Noyon.
After having, on this day, washed the feet of his Disciples, Jesus said to them: Know ye 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 anothers feet. For I have given you an. example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.1 Although the meaning of these words is, that after the example of our Divine Master, we should practise works of fraternal charity towards our neighbor, yet the literal imitation of this our Saviour’s act has always been observed in the Church.
ANTIPHON 1: John 13: 34
A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, saith the Lord. Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord
ANTIPHON 2: John 13: 4, 5, 15
After our Lord was risen from supper, He put water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of His disciples: to whom He gave this example. Ps. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. After
ANTIPHON 3: John 13: 12, 13, 15
Our Lord Jesus, after He had supped with His disciples, washed their feet, and said to them: Know you what I your Lord and Master have done to you? I have given you an example, that ye also may do likewise. Ps. Thou hast blessed, O Lord, Thy land; Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Our Lord..
ANTIPHON 4: John 13: 6-8
Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to them: If I shall not wash thy feet, thou shalt have no part with Me. V. He came to Simon Peter, and Peter said to Him: R. Lord… V. What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. R. Lord…
ANTIPHON 5: John 13: 14
If I your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, how much more ought you to wash one another’s feet? Ps. Hear these things, all ye nations: give ear, ye that inhabit the world. If I…
ANTIPHON 6: John 13: 3
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another. V. Said Jesus to His disciples. R. By this…
ANTIPHON 7: I Cor. 13: 13
Let these three, faith, hope, and charity, remain in you; but the greatest of these is charity. V. And now there remain faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. R. Let these..
Where charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him. Let us fear, and let us love the living God. And may we love each other with a sincere heart. Where charity and love are, God is there. As we are gathered into one body, Beware, lest we be divided in mind. Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease, And may Christ our God be in our midst. Where charity and love are, God is there. And may we with the saints also, See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God: The joy that is immense and good, Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur: Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus. Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites. Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul quoque cum beatis videamus, Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus: Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum, Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.
In honor of Our Sorrowful Mother – Fourth Sword
And there followed Him a great multitude of people and of women who bewailed and lamented Him.” St. Luke xxiii
Let us represent to ourselves Jesus bearing His Cross, and meeting His Blessed Mother. Let us beg the grace of fortitude and constancy.
We behold the King of kings after His cruel scourging, crowned with thorns, and going forth, bearing the Cross laid upon His bleeding shoulder. And while thus passing up the Hill of Scorn, leaving at every step drops of that Precious Blood, by which He redeemed the world, He met His Blessed Mother. O! Mother, far more than martyr, what sword then truly pierced thy heart, and made thee partaker of all the sufferings of His Passion! Yes, as His failing eyes then met thine own, and not a word was spoken, thou mightest truly say to all the world: Behold and see, if there is any sorrow like to my sorrow.” But obtain for me, dear Mother, the grace of following thee. Obtain that, as thy child, I may never shrink back from Jesus bearing His Cross; but like thee, and following in thy steps, that I too may patiently bear the crosses and trials which are laid upon me.
Practice – To accept with courage and in silence the humiliations of the day.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail, Holy Queen
Queen, Mother of Mercy. Our life, our sweetness, and our hope, hail. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And Jesus, the blessed fruit of thy womb, and after this, our exile, show unto us. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.