Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday Quick Facts - AU

AKA NameMaundy Thursday
HashtagsCompiled on#MaundyThursday, #HolyThursday
Related Hashtags#HymnExperience24
2024 Date28 March 2024
2025 Date17 April 2025

Holy Thursday

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Holy Thursday History

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, commemorates two important events: the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and the institution of the Eucharist - the ritual of Holy Communion in the Christian faith. It serves as a reminder of Jesus’s teachings on love and service, symbolised through His act of washing the feet of His disciples.

The observance of Holy Thursday dates back to early Christian times and has evolved considerably over the centuries. In Australia, which has a diverse Christian population, Holy Thursday holds a significant place. As it falls in the Australian autumn, it sometimes coincides with Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance that pays tribute to all Australians who served and died in war. On such occasions, church services often acknowledge the shared themes of sacrifice, service, and love.

On Holy Thursday in Australia, many Christian churches host special services, including the traditional Maundy ceremony where the priest washes the feet of twelve people replicating Jesus’s actions. In St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, the day is marked with a solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper in the evening. Traditional church bells are silenced and replaced with wooden clappers until the Easter vigil. Holy Thursday typically falls on the Thursday before Easter, the exact date varying annually depending on the Western Christian liturgical calendar.

Facts & quotes about Holy Thursday

  • Some Holy Thursday services include stripping of the Altar, held in church. It's an ancient practice that represents the abandonment and desolation the disciples felt after Jesus was arrested. Designated people take down all decorations and the Bible for the church sanctuary. The items will be put back Easter Sunday morning, sometimes in a procession.
  • Foot-washing celebrates the servant hood of Jesus. The word Maundy comes from mandatum novum in Latin, new commandment which refers to the scripture found in John 13:34-35. After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he says, a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
  • The words used in Holy Communion reflect what Jesus told his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … Drink for this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
  • In Australia, Anglican communities often repeat Jesus' actions at the Last Supper by holding "Agape meals" which symbolize brotherly love and charity.
  • Many Australian Christians observe Holy Thursday with re-enactments of the "Washing of the Feet" ceremony, reflecting the event believed to have happened at the Last Supper with Jesus and his apostles.

Top things to do in Australia for Holy Thursday

  • Attend a Holy Thursday service. Some denominations, such as Roman Catholicism, require you to be a member to be given communion, but many Protestant Churches do not.
  • Participate in a foot-washing service. This puts many people outside of their comfort zone. Washing someone else's feet is an intimate act, but it was the lowliest act that a slave in Israel performed. It demonstrates ability to love and serve others.
  • Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney: Holy Thursday marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum and several churches across Australia celebrate it with great reverence and solemnity. One can attend the Mass of Lord's Supper at the Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.
  • Take Part in Chrism Mass: In some Australian dioceses, this Mass may be held on Holy Thursday where the Bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation. It is one of the most solemn and important events in the liturgical year.

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