Holy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice.
The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal.
The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on Holy Thursday.
He also establishes the special priesthood for his disciples, which is distinct from the ‘priesthood of all believers.‘ Christ washed the feet of his Disciples, who would become the first priests.
This establishment of the priesthood reenacted at Mass with the priest washing the feet of several parishioners.
During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his Disciples, uttering the words, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Subsequently, he passes a cup filled with wine. He then says, “This is my blood…” It is believed those who eat of Christ’s flesh and blood shall have eternal life.
The Last Supper is celebrated daily in the Catholic Church as part of every Mass for it is through Christ’s sacrifice that we have been saved.
On the night of Holy Thursday, Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place where the faithful remain in the presence of the Eucharist just as the Disciples kept a vigil with Christ.
Following the Last Supper, the disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where he would be betrayed by Judas.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (University of Dayton) – stained glass, Christ washing Peter’s feet, Author, Nheyob. File:Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (University of Dayton) – stained glass, Christ washing Peter’s feet.JPG – Wikimedia Commons