Maundy Thursday

Special activities for the family


Today we remember the Last Supper Jesus had with the apostles. Through the gesture of the washing of the disciples’ feet, Jesus our Lord teaches us to serve one another. During this day, we particularly commemorate the institution of two holy sacraments: Holy Orders (symbolised in the washing of feet) and the Eucharist, when Jesus transformed the bread and the wine into his sacred body and blood, giving this special food to his disciples. 

Have you ever had a special meal?
When was it?
How was this meal?
Why was it special and different from the others?
Do you remember what you ate?

If it was truly special, you most probably have some photos of this occasion. Look at them and talk about how you felt on that day.

Even Jesus had a special meal with his friends. We call it the Last Supper. It was so special that every year, the Church reminds us about it. In truth, we remember it during each mass, but on Holy Thursday, we celebrate it in a special way.

During each mass, the priest repeats the same words Jesus said during the Last Supper: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you. Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus transforms the bread and wine into his sacred body and blood. Nothing changes in the outward appearance. They still look and taste the same. Yet we believe that the bread and wine, have now become Jesus.

Before starting this meal, Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. This was a common practice. In those days, the roads were dirty and dusty. People wore sandals, not shoes and socks. During meals, people did not generally sit around a table but sat on carpets or on cushions. Thus, it was wise to wash one’s feet when one entered in his own house or if he was invited by someone to have lunch or dinner. The servants used to take care of washing the feet of all those who entered the house.

When Jesus washed his friends’ feet, he wanted to show them how much he loved them, he also wanted to teach them. Jesus told the apostles that they were to do all that they saw him do with them and with others: to serve others and to love them. Jesus washed everyone’s foot, he also washed those of Judas, even though he knew that he would soon betray him!

Prayer and Gospel reading

Sign of the cross.

Thank you, Jesus, you love me. Thank you, Jesus, you did not just tell us you loved us, but you also showed how much you loved us, when you died on the cross, so that one day, we could come with you in heaven.

(note to parents: chose the best method to suit your family: watch the clip, read the Gospel or else read this episode from the children’s Bible)

During the Passover meal Jesus stood up from the table and tied a cloth around his waist. He poured some water into a basin, and walked over to one of his disciples and began to wash their feet. When Jesus reached Peter, Peter would not let Jesus wash his feet. Jesus answered that if he did not wash Peter's feet he would have no part of Jesus. Peter then said that Jesus should not only wash his feet, but his hands and head as well. Runtime : 4:35 mins

A reading from the Gospel of John (Jn 13, 1-15) 

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 

The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. 

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” 

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

A reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 14, 22-25)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Everyone removes his shoes and socks. The parents will first wash the children’s feet and dry them with a towel, then the children will wash each other’s feet and dry them, they will do the same with their parents. The parents will wash each other’s feet and dry them. As an act of humility, the feet may be kissed, after they are washed.

Note to parents: try to keep this time, of washing of the feet as dignified as possible. You may put some background music (Ubi caritas). To shorten the time, only one foot is washed and not both. Moreover, the children may be already not wearing socks and wearing only slippers. 

How did it feel? How did it feel to wash someone else’s feet and to have your feet washed?

Is it always easy to have someone do things for you?

Why do we sometimes find it difficult to accept help? It is good to learn to do things for ourselves, but there are times when we need others to show us. There are times when we need help from other people. Let us remember, that when we refuse their help, we may be denying the other person an opportunity to help, as Jesus wants.

How can we help others? (everyone is allowed the time to give examples, even the grown-ups. Parents are to take care that the examples the children give are realistic and feasible, something which they can do on a regular basis and not once in a blue moon)

During the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. During consecration, the priest, repeats the same words Jesus said. During every mass, Jesus Christ, through the priest or bishop, by the power of the Holy Spirit, changes the bread and wine, into his most precious body and blood. It is very difficult to understand this miracle, especially since the bread and wine continue to look the same. The taste does not change either. We are called to open ourselves to this mystery through an act of faith. 

Jesus, you showed us how much you love us. You taught us that we should not only love you, but also love others. Help us to love even those who for some reason or other, we are finding it difficult to show them love. We pray this is your name. Amen.

Say the Our Father, and stop on the words, give us this day, our daily bread.

Listen to Love one another.

What else can we do today?

Make the family meal special. Switch off the mobiles, tablets and television, so that you may talk to each other. Allow everyone to give a helping hand, with the cooking and the setting of the table.

Even though virtually, attend today’s mass. Point out the time of consecration to the children.

At the end of mass ask why the mass ended differently. What was different? 

Today, the Church removes all ornaments, and the crosses are covered. If you have a cross or crucifix, make a procession towards it, whilst singing Oh how he loves you and me, and cover the cross with the purple cloth.