Thursday, April 5, 2007

Meaning of Maundy

Today is Maundy Thursday, celebrated by Christians. I've never heard the exact definition of "maundy", so here it is from my big fat World Book dictionary:

maundy, (a noun): 1. An old ceremony of washing the feet of a number of poor people to commemorate the Last Supper and Christ's washing the feet of his disciples, performed as a religious rite, as by a sovereign or an ecclesiastic, on the Thursday before Good Friday. 2. Alms distributed at the ceremony or on this day. (Sometimes special coins were minted for the occasion.)

The next entry in the dictionary is "Maundy money": Coins given to the poor on Maundy Thursday. In England, special coins are frequently minted for the occasion in denominations of 1 to 4 pence and presented by the sovereign.

Once, in the church I grew up in, we had a foot-washing ceremony. Each person washed the feet of the next person in line. It was humbling. We won't make it to church tonight because the service starts too early. They will have Communion because tonight was the night of the Last Supper, celebrated by Jesus and the Disciples. After that most famous of meals, Jesus, accompanied by Peter, James and John, went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The three disciples, of course, notoriously dozed off there while Jesus prayed. Later in the night, Jesus was arrested in that garden, also.

Ponder anew this ancient story, especially on these days of remembrance during Holy Week.

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