Mangaluru, March 25, 2016 : All over the world ’Maundy Thursday’ this year was marked on March 24, 2016. The ’Washing of the feet’ mass in a new perspective created history in Mangaluru too. For the very first time in the universal catholic church, a revised washing of the feet ritual put in place by Pope Francis was adopted. Such a practice was never officially seen in the church to date. In Canara the devout Konkani Catholics fervently observe the holy week rituals that commenced with Palm Sunday and will end with Easter.
The mass of the ’last supper’ was held in at least 115 parishes with about 2.7 lakh Roman Catholics of Magaluru diocese and over 50 parishes and just over a lakh Roman Catholics of Udupi diocese in traditional solemnity, it was not only in churches but many out posts, institutions and so on.
The unique practice of washing the feet of 12 representatives on Maundy Thursday in keeping with the scriptural narration of what Christ did to tell his followers that they must serve one another and be of one mind and heart by this gesture, was for time immemorial practiced by the church by inviting 12 males. For the first time in history, Pope Francis, in his enigmatic style of ’all inclusive’ equality sent a solemn order that this year on, this ritual will include a general mix of males and females, old and young.
The number too can be according to convenience and not necessarily only 12 people. The women may also be nuns, lay persons and so on. Reports have come in from churches around that this new trend was implemented with joy and admiration, it surely contributes to oneness and better Christian values focusing on a non-divisive, discrimination free Christian out look. It was seen to be enthusiastically welcomed at all levels uni formally. Pope Francis has made a tremendous statement for realistic and better Christian values.
Maundy Thursday’s ’Mandatum’ (Latin), translating to ’new mandate’ of Christ washing the feet of His apostles to signify the chief tenet of Christianity,service to neighbour, first came into being during the reign of Pope John.xiii (965-972).
Maundy Thursday Significance : The Latin,"Mandatum novum dovobis"-’A new commandment I give to unto you’, is once again promulgated immediately after reading of the Gospel from the Scriptures. The word ’MAUNDY’ is derived from this latin ’Mandatum’ or ’mandate’. The ’Mandatum’ is in the form of ’Washing of the feet’ of twelve men representing the apostles of Christ, now with women too officially included. The main celebrant at the mass of the last supper, girds himself with a towel and washes the feet of the twelve with water, a very significant gesture of serving one another with true concern.
This apart the main observance and significance if this important day of the liturgical year is (1). Institution of the Eucharist. (2).Establishing of the Priesthood and Ordination of the apostles.
Trend in the city :
In Rosario Cathedral Mangaluru, Bishop Dr Aloysius D’Souza presided over the mass and feet washing that started off at 6 pm. He reiterated the church’s proclaimed importance of Eucharist. He said that we celebrate the day of the Eucharist and also the day of the priests who are chosen to say the holy mass and lead the Christians. The Bishop representing Jesus, washed the feet of twelve parishioners to symbolize the disciples of Jesus, for the first time 5 were men, five women and 2 nuns, all of different ages. The gesture is an act of utmost humility which Christ introduced as caring for ones fellow men. Similar ceremony was held in every parish headed by the parish priest or representatives. However, Estern right churches did not follow suit. People in large numbers were seen in churches
The Eucharistic sacrament was then enthroned in a specially decorated side alter for continuous adoration till the Good Friday prayers will be held tomorrow after noon.
At the Scared Heart Chapel of the Cloistered Carmel convent at Kankanady, the washing of the feet was unique. Rev Santhosh Kamath SJ, a well known priest who keeps the churches instructions in a broader manner to impress on people the teachings of Christ, celebrated the mass at 4 pm. The chapel was packed to capacity. The celebrant after the enlightening homily, went into the seated congregation and randomly washed the feet of several people, women, men, old young and so on. The meaning it spread was close to what Pope Francis has been practicing since he was elected in march 2013. Rev Santhosh said his practice was not new and he had done so earler too and was now ratified by the Pope. People had come in large numbers and a special loaf of breed blessed by the prioress of the Convent was distributed first to little children and then to the adults - all received the same with devotion and carried it to the sick and old at home as a special blessing .
Brief Recap of Christianity in Canara :
Canara Konkani Catholics have been in existence here since 1500s in this land called KUDLA of Tuluva traditions, They are now broadly referred to as Mangaloreans the world over. Christianity arrived in India through Kerala even before it reached Europe.In this area,the first Catholic Church to come into official use was a little away to the South, of the present Rosario Cathedral near the historical original port of Mangalore also known as Bunder.
The early Spanish,Italian and German missionaries introduced many specific exercises to make the worship meaningful due to the fact that almost no Konkani literature had materialised, and the official language used in church rituals was Latin. Many local dramatic observances were introduced to make the neo-catholics absorb the finer points of the liturgy and scriptures and also enliven the rituals for the congregation. Most of these have now died down particularly after Vatican II in the early 1960’s as the liturgy is now mostly in local languages and well animated due to high degree of education.
Participation in the Holy Week observances, ie:Palm Sunday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday and Solemn Holy Saturday(Vigil services) which go to EASTER SUNDAY, is a very desired ritual. In the Rosario Cathedral of Mangalore, an old tradition of the region, which not observed everywhere is still seen on Good Friday. That is the lowering of the body of Christ by his followers, and placing it in the tomb.