The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at 4:30 PM. The celebration includes the Mandatum and the transfer of the Blessed sacrament to the Altar of Repose. Abbot Robert Barnes will preside and preach.
Mandatum refers to the washing of the feet and is derived from the Latin word for something that has been ordered or commanded (after the Gospel, the Abbot will wash the feet of several of the monks). In this case, the command is not just another rubric or church regulation; rather mandatum refers to the words of Jesus after he washed the apostles’ feet. “I give you a new commandment”: if he, our Lord, has washed our feet, we must learn to wash one another’s feet. In this sense the word commandment is an analogy describing the “Law of Love”. Unlike legal systems, love–real love–does not constrain or coerce. Jesus’ demonstration has something very important to say to our age about love, however: love is not infatuation or romance. Love, mature love, is the unspectacular, caring service that draws no notice, no reward, no spotlight. What Jesus commands here can only be given freely. No police can enforce this command, no sense of guilt can motivate it. When it is possible to respond like this, we are truly blessed.
The Altar of Repose is an altar specially set up for the Triddum celebrations to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle in the Sanctuary of the church. This displacement in procession both emphasizes the dignity owed the Eucharist on the day we recall the Sacrament’s institution at the Last Supper and is symbolic of Christ radical displacement in the last days of his life. He was toppled from a good and respectable reputation; the wise teacher was treated like a common criminal; the Son of God was subjected to death.