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What Thursdays mean to Catholics

CHRIST,BAPTISM
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Whether the day goes well or badly, it's easy to relate it to Christ.

This is Part V in our series on popular devotions linked to each day of the week. Previous days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Pope St. John Paul II recommended that on Thursdays, we pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Luminous Mysteries highlight, in the words of our holy Polish pope, “the Christological depth” of the Rosary, which is present in all of its mysteries.

Unlike the other Mysteries of the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries, or Mysteries of Light, are recommended on only one day of the week, making Thursday a real standout day for many who love the Rosary. The Luminous Mysteries seem to seep the entire day with extra light, from the first Luminous Mystery contemplating Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, the water flooded with sunshine, to the fifth Luminous Mystery contemplating the institution of the Eucharist, and thoughts of how Christ’s face must have shone as he blessed, broke and shared the Bread of Life with His apostles.

Praying the Luminous Mysteries, with its fifth mystery recalling the institution of the Eucharist, on Thursdays, has an extra special meaning, since Thursday is also the day of the week in the Catholic Church devoted to the Holy Eucharist.  

To remember and live out Thursday’s greater meaning, we can try to attend daily Mass. Another option is to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration, known as a “Holy Hour,” as an act of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Also, a traditional prayer said after receiving Communion is the Anima Christi and even if you can’t make it to Mass on Thursday, this is a great prayer to remember that Jesus is present “in body and blood, soul and divinity” in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

It was a Thursday night that Jesus instituted the Eucharist and shared a luminous Passover with his apostles, and it was also the agonizing night in the garden of Gethsemane. So at the end of the day on Thursday, whether your day went well (like a great meal shared with friends) or poorly (feeling like your friends abandoned you), you can draw upon either of these very relatable images of Holy Thursday to inspire deeper prayer.

Whatever hardship you might be going through, you have only to recall the Agony in the Garden and Christ’s friends denying him, betraying him, and falling asleep … and you should be able to find great strength to get through the rest of your day or night!

Finally, Eucharist means Thanksgiving, so bring a spirit of thanks to the whole of Thursday. Perhaps at dinner, or whenever you’re around the table with the family, each of you might name something you are particularly grateful for as part of grace before your meal.

A good prayer to infuse us with gratitude, specifically gratitude for the Eucharist, is this beautiful prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Lord, Father all-powerful, and ever-living God, I thank Thee, for even though I am a sinner, Thy unprofitable servant, not because of my worth, but in the kindness of Thy mercy, Thou hast fed me with the precious Body and Blood of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that this holy communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.

May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will. May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions. May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in power to do good. May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual.

May it unite me more closely to Thee, the one true God and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with Thee.

And I pray that Thou willest lead me, a sinner to the banquet where Thou with Thy Son and Holy Spirit, art true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to Thy saints. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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