The holy day marks the beginning of Easter and is the start of Holy Week. It is the day that Jesus held the Last Supper with his apostles in Jerusalem.
It was the last meal of Passover that Jesus shared with his disciples before being crucified and then coming back from the dead.
During the Last Supper, Jesus is said to have offered his apostles bread and wine as memories of his body and blood, which is why the tradition has endured today.
Maundy Thursday – also known as Holy Thursday – also commemorates the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
As he did so, he gave them this mandatum, or command: ‘If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.’
Some priests or ministers may wash the feet of members of the congregation in memory of this.
To help you on your way to celebrating the special day, here is a selection of Maundy Thursday quotes, poems and prayers.
maundy thursday quotes
The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, ‘as I have done… so also must you do’ (John 13:15 ) – Pope John Paul II
I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master – St. John Vianney
The Bread that we need each day to grow in eternal life, makes of our will a docile instrument of the Divine Will; sets the Kingdom of God within us; gives us pure lips, and a pure heart with which to glorify his holy name – Edith Stein
It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass – Padre Pio
When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now –Blessed Mother Teresa
The best way to economise time is to ‘lose’ half an hour each day attending Holy Mass – Frederic Ozanam
I hunger for the bread of God, the flesh of Jesus Christ… I long to drink of his blood, the gift of unending love – St. Ignatius of Antioch
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ –Luke 22:19
maundy thursday poems
Sonnet for Maundy Thursday
Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth gives herself bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
And here He shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we seek the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray Him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.
Loved to the End: A Poem for Maundy Thursday
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be loved.
It is a memory deeper in me than brown
or the worst pain I’ve ever felt
or the dark, damp curve where my
child’s life began –
Love – the real love that
whispers, yet has no voice;
knows, yet is without detail.
That kind of love is
what I’m thinking about these
long, thinning Jerusalem days.
How do I know what love can be?
Love that rises up against all the
storm’s fury that tells me I’m lost at sea –
not worth saving.
Love that curls up under my body,
turns me face up to air and light and sky;
How do I know to hold my breath until that love comes in like the tide?
Is love the buoyancy?
Is love the power greater than any Leviathan
I’ve ever been thrown against?
How do I know this Love?
This Bread I Break
This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wine at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.
Once in this time came the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.
This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.
The Last Supper
They are assembled, astonished and disturbed
round him, who like a sage resolved his fate,
and now leaves those to whom he most belonged,
leaving and passing by them like a stranger.
The loneliness of old comes over him
which helped mature him for his deepest acts;
now will he once again walk through the olive grove,
and those who love him still will flee before his sight.
To this last supper he has summoned them,
and (like a shot that scatters birds from trees)
their hands draw back from reaching for the loves
upon his word: they fly across to him;
they flutter, frightened, round the super table
searching for an escape. But he is present
everywhere like an all-pervading twilight-hour.
Here they are gathered, wondering and deranged,
Round Him, who wisely doth Himself inclose,
And who now takes Himself away, estranged,
From those who owned Him once, and past them
He feels the ancient loneliness to-day
That taught Him all His deepest acts of love;
Now in the olive groves He soon will rove,
And these who love Him all will flee away.
To the last super table He hath led.
As birds are frightened from a garden-bed
By shots, so He their hands forth from the bread
Doth frighten by His word: to Him they flee;
Then flutter round the table in their fright
And seek a passage from the hall. But He
It is everywhere, like dusk at fall of night.
Ranier Maria Rilke
Something For The Feast
With them you walked and closely held the purse,
The cunning one so trusted, yet so cursed.
Serious countenance to cover evil plans,
Imagining the coins in your hands,
You tie the bread, then lifted up your heel
To crush the One who offered you the meal.
Yes, quickly go into the dark of night
To make your deal; betray the One True Light.
For if you change your mind, the world is lost.
No other sacrifice can pay the cost.
Go, sell the perfect Lamb to the chief priest,
Obtaining what is needed for the Feast.
As your companions thought, your deeds secured
Provision for the poor, who had endured
The terrors of the one whose path you chose.
His plans the God of Heaven to oppose
Came to fruition on the bloody cross,
While deeper plans unraveled all his power.
He won and lost it all in that same hour.
There in the presence of our greatest foe
The feast was set and blessings overflow.
Theresa Roberts Johnson
Maundy Thursday prayers
For all those who have gone before,
walked the path we tread,
and, by their example,
wise words and teaching
led others into your Kingdom,
we offer our grateful thanks.
For all who, through their actions
put others before self,
demonstrating the meaning
giving from their riches
and also from their poverty,
we offer our grateful thanks.
Through the one who gave
everything, that we might
understand the true
riches of this life,
and the one to eat.
– Thanksgiving for Others, via Faith and Worship
This is love.
Not that you spoke words of comfort,
walked with the unclean and unloved,
shared wisdom, bread and wine,
brought healing into lives
and challenged the status quo.
This is love.
That you spoke the word of God,
walked a painful road to the Cross,
shared living water, bread of life,
brought Salvation to the world
and died for the sake of all.
This is love.
It is a seed
sleep in the ground,
and spreads its sweet perfume.
– The Love of Jesus, via Faith and Worship
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