The Christian community in Sri Lanka joined their brethren the world over to commemorate the Maundy Thursday today. Special services were held in all churches in the island to mark this important day, which is referred to as the Great and Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday and the Thursday of Mysteries.
The word 'Maundy' has its roots to the Latin word 'Mandatum' meaning 'command'. Jesus Christ at the Last Supper gave a new command to His disciples 'Mandatum novum do vobis,' (it is to love all) - 'Love one another as I have loved you my friends'.
The word Maundy has reference to the old French version of the word 'mandé' and over time it became corrupted into Maundy.
Maundy Thursday was the day Jesus Christ had His Last Supper 'Passover meal' with His disciples before he was crucified. It was the night of betrayal by one of his disciples for 30 pieces of silver. It is on this day, the Master and the Lord washed the feet of His disciples, including the one who shared the meal and betrayed Him.
This day is of great significance to Catholics and Christians of all denominations as they believe that Jesus Christ crucified and rose again from the dead, instituted the three pillars of faith: the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Priesthood and Holy Mass to commemorate His Passion, Death and Resurrection until the end of times. The rites and ritual observances connected to the three most valued days Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are meaningful and important days in the Catholic calendar. They provide the basis of faith. Traditionally on Holy Thursday, the bishops with their clergy in their respective diocese participate in the blessing of the oil at the ceremony known as 'Chrism Mass'.
In Sri Lanka, the blessing of Holy oil took place on April 14 and the Holy oil blessed on this day is used during the year at the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Today, only one Mass is offered at the evening hours. The Mass of the Lord's Supper attended by almost all priests to commemorate the great event of the institution of Holy Orders, the Priesthood. With the conclusion of today's celebrations of the Lass Supper (the Passover Meal), the Holy Eucharist is removed with solemnity stripping the altar and the tabernacle containing Sacred Hosts is taken in procession to one designated place for public worship and veneration.
The bells run during the procession go silent until the Easter Vigil and ends with the hope of entering Good Friday.