Maundy Thursday service with choir.
On Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the Last Supper, a Passover meal which Jesus shared with his disciples and at which he became our passover, the Lamb of God. We also celebrate the institution of the holy priesthood as Jesus gave his disciples the command to break the bread and bless the cup until he comes again. After communion, the altar will be stripped and washed to represent the tomb that will receive Christ's body on Good Friday. The reserved Sacrament will then be taken in procession to the Altar of Repose in the Chapel, which represents the Garden of Gethsemene, where Jesus asked his disciples "Could you not wait with me one hour?" The Chapel will remain open all night for silent prayer and reflection before the Blessed Sacrament.
The Maundy Thursday service begins much like any Mass, with the addition of several important devotions at the end. In it we feel the mixed emotions of joy at the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood, and sorrow, as our Lord weeps in the garden on the night before his death. After all have received communion, the traditional stripping of the altar takes place, in which the altar is symbolically prepared to represent the tomb of Christ. Additionally, we introduced an ancient custom at St. Mary’s, trhe watch before the Altar of Repose, symbolizing time spent with our Lord in his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The whole congregation, together with the choir and clergy, processed by candlelight to the chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar surrounded by candles and flowers while the choir sang the haunting hymn, “Go to Dark Gethsemane ." The faithful prayed with our Lord into the night as well as the following morning, and those who participated found it to be quite spiritually nourishing.