Holy Week

From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

In a similar development Christians began to regard Thursday of Holy Week as a special time for participating in the Lord's Supper. The day came to be called “Maundy Thursday,” a reference to Christ's giving a “new commandment” ( John 13:34 ) to His disciples. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “commandment.” Usually the early Maundy Thursday observances included a ceremonial foot-washing, in imitation of Christ's washing the feet of the disciples ( John 13:5-11 ). See Church Year .

The practice of holding special services throughout Holy Week probably began first at Jerusalem where Christians could more easily connect their observance with the places and events of the last week of the earthly life of Jesus. See Church Year .

Fred A. Grissom

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

The last week of Lent (q.v.), i.e. the week before Easter, and specially devoted to commemorating the sufferings and death of Christ. In English use, it is also called Passion Week (a name appropriated, in Roman use, to the week before Palm Sunday). This institution is of very early origin, and was "formerly called the Great Week,' and in medieval times the Authentic,' with the same meaning; in Germany and Denmark, the popular title is Still Week,' in allusion to the holy quiet and abstraction from labor during its continuance." In the Roman Catholic Church, the special characteristics of the celebration of the Holy Week are increased solemnity and gloom, penitential rigor, and mourning. If any of the ordinary Church festivals fall therein, they are transferred till after Easter. All instrumental music is suspended in the churches, the altars are stripped of their ornaments, the pictures and statues are veiled from public sight, manual labor is voluntarily suspended, the rigor of fasting is redoubled, and alms- deeds and other works of mercy and sedulously enjoined and practiced. The days specially solemnized are Palm Sunday, Spy Wednesday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday (q.v.), Holy Saturday. Holy Thursday (q.v.), in the Roman Catholic Church, is specially designed as a commemoration of the Last Supper, and of the institution of the Eucharist. Besides these services, there are still others annexed to the day, as the solemn consecration of the oil or chrism (q.v.) used in baptism, confirmation, orders, and extreme unction, the washing of pilgrims' feet, and the chanting of the Tenebrae (darkness), consisting of the matins and lauds for the following mornings, which it is customary to recite at night. "During the service, a large candlestick, supporting fifteen lights, arranged in the form of a triangle, which denote Christ and the prophets who predicted his coming, stands in the sanctuary; the lights are one by one extinguished until only the upper one remains, which is taken down and placed under the altar until the close of the office, and then brought back; this symbolizes Christ's burial and resurrection." On Holy Saturday follow the solemn blessing of fire and the water of the baptismal font; the baptism of catechumens, and the ordination of candidates for the ministry. From the fire solemnly blessed on this day is lighted the Paschal Light, which is regarded as a symbol of Christ risen from the dead. This symbolical light is kept burning during the reading of the gospel at Mass throughout the interval between Easter and Pentecost. Wetzer, Welte, Kirchen-Lex. vol. 2, art. Charwoche; Procter, Cornm. Prayer, p. 279 sq.; Guericke, Antiquities, p. 144 sq.; Chambers, Cyclop. 5, 394; Walcott, Sacred Archeology, p. 315; Appleton, Amer. Cyclop. 9, 240, 241. (See Passion).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [3]

The week before Easter, so called as consecrated to the commemoration of the Passion of Christ in view of His death on the Cross.