OPENING THE ALTAR TO YOUNGSTERS ON MAUNDY THURSDAY
On Maundy Thursday, the Lord’s Last Supper, Jesus becomes so humble that He washes the feet of His disciples, including those of Judas Iscariot, who betrays him for the price of 30 pieces of silver. Café finds out how youngsters are involved in activities during the Holy Week
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, is the Christian feast before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper initiates the Easter Triduum – the three days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday that commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper begins, followed by the washing of the feet of the Apostles, a traditional ritual of the celebration. The service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to the place of reposition.
As the church is beautifully adorned with colourful flowers for Maundy Thursday today, 12 parish members will walk in the church, representing the 12 apostles, followed by the priest, wearing a Golden cassock. The occasion is a joyous feast as the priest represents Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The feet of these twelve people are washed by the priest wearing a simple robe and humbly kneeing down near each one of them and then presenting them with a hot cross bun. Maundy Thursday is a celebration of unity and service, which eventually leads to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his final days of passion in this world. The Eucharistic Celebration stresses on different aspect of Jesus’s life at this single celebration. He knew who was the one among the 12 disciples who would betray him yet he shows no sign of anger. Maundy Thursday celebrates the establishment of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and Priesthood. Fr Noel Menezes, Manager of Fr Agnel Music School, Porvorim, explains, “Traditionally, Maundy Thursday is symbolic of the washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles. When Pope Francis was selected as the Pope, he invited women to join for the washing of the feet, which broke traditional barriers and opened up the ceremony for more parishioners. He also washed the feet of prison inmates and refugees. Goa too has begun giving parishioners the choice of selecting the 12 members for the washing of the feet. When I was the parish priest, I asked the parishioners to select 12 members. Among the 12, were three members who were always opposing me in meetings. At that moment, I realised what Jesus must have felt to wash the feet of Judas when he knew Judas would betray him. He still washed and kissed his feet and he did it with love. His message was genuine and not contorted.” Priests enact the act of washing of the feet not only to show the church how it was done but to remind people to forget their pride and forgive others. Fr Noel adds, “There are many youngsters who are joining the Confrarias and Fabricas, which are ministries, and people take an oath when the ministry is conferred on them. During the Holy Week, there is so much happening in the church, from dressing the altars, to preparing the statues for processions, which is usually taken care of by the youth. There is a lot of goodness that comes from our youngsters.” Johann Conceicao is part of the youth of St Francis Xavier Church, Pirna and was selected as one of the 12 members for the washing of the feet. This year, his younger sister, Anna Maria, has been selected. “It is one of the most important rituals and it shows the humbleness of Jesus Christ. I have been observing the ritual for so many years and I was happy to be selected at a young age,” says Johann. Maundy Thursday is a feast as it is a joyous celebration. In the Old Testament, it was celebrated as the Passover festival in memory of the crossing of the Red Sea. The blood of a sacrifice marked the doors of the people to purely save them from sins but in the New Testament, Jesus became the new Lamb and sacrificed Himself. This was the first occasion when bread turned to flesh and wine turned to blood of Jesus Christ. It is a joyous occasion as he gave us the blessed sacrament of the Eucharist.
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