Commemoration of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, Stripping of the Altar and One Hour Watch of the Passion
This is the day of the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion as a memorial of his death and resurrection. The colour in the church is white. On this day Holy Communion is celebrated in the evening, the time the Last Supper was celebrated in the Upper Room by Jesus and his followers.
We reenact the washing of the disciples feet by Jesus and so will be celebrating in the Eucharist in an alternative form, one which is closer to original setting of the Lord’s supper.
After the Lord’s Supper service, the church is stripped of all decoration. This year, as in previous years, the congregation will be invited to take part in the stripping of the sanctuary. While the congregation does this, the priest wearing a purple stole (the colour of penitence) will read Psalm 22. This action enables us to remember how Jesus, deserted by his friends was stripped and nailed to the cross. In sorrow we recall how often we desert him.
After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples fell asleep. Jesus asked: “Could you not watch with me one hour?” It was in the garden that Jesus was arrested and taken away to be tried and crucified.
After the service, the Blessed Sacrament rests on the Altar of Repose. Jesus is really present with us. We try to spend an extra hour in silent prayer with him.