Holy Thursday Mass – optional washing of feet – only MALES

MandatumThere is a translation point regarding the optional rite of washing feet (the “Mandatum” or “Command” – whence the word Maundy) on Holy Thursday.  

In many places women are invited to have their feet washed. 

This is against the Church’s laws which are based on divine revelation Scripture (cf. Matthew 20:28). 

This rite, optional in the Novus Ordo, was reintroduced by Pope Pius XII in 1955.

Two main excuses are offered in defense of the abuse of washing the feet of women.

The first excuse concerns a false sense of service and charity: “hospitality” suggests women must be “included”.  In the USA some might obtusely cite a note having no canonical authority from the (then) NCCB’s Committee on Liturgy in 1987 which uses this “hospitality” argument.

The second excuse stems from “inclusive” language: the English words in the ICEL Sacramentary, “men” and “man”, can’t possibly mean “males”.  That would be sexist!  Therefore women must be included. 

On the contrary, the Latin rubrics for the foot washing rite has words viri selecti, “chosen men”. 

Vir means “a male person”.   The mighty Lewis & Short Dictionary say vir is "a male person, a man (opp. femina; cf. mas)." 

If you have been properly informed about this, to insist that “men” (viri) means “men and women” is really to lie.   Homo or plural homines might be argued to be of both sexes, but absolutely not vir.

If you have been informed that vir means only "men" and that excludes boys or youths, then you were probably misinformed. 

Vir refers to a person’s sex, not his age.  There are specific Latin words to indicate categories of age in males, such as puer, adolescens, iuvenis and senex

The word vir can tempt a strict interpretation of "man" in the sense of "adult male", but that would be too strict.  Also, while clearly the Apostles were men, not boys or youths, the point is that they were "male", not that they were this age or that age.  The Apostles were present in the Upper Room because they were chosen by Christ to be priests.  And there is only a juridical, not an ontological, limitation on the age a male can be ordained.

Also, keep in mind that the age of reason is around 7 and young people are bound to fasting and abstinence in their teens.

In any event, this whole debate has been cleared up more than once by the Holy See, especially in the 1988 document Paschales solemnitatis of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.   The rubrics of the 2002 Missale Romanum retain the viri selecti

I believe that no Conference of Bishops has ever received approval from the Holy See for a variation.

Legally, linguistically, and theologically the issue is clear.  

No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change this.

Only the Holy See can grant particular exceptions.


Holy Thursday Mass – optional washing of feet – only MALES
0 votes, 0.00 avg. rating (0% score)
FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Holy Thursday Mass – optional washing of feet – only MALES

  1. Geoffrey says:

    Year after year, our parish has the priests wash the feet of a few men AND women, and then those men and women in turn wash the feet of anyone who wants to come up, including the feet of priests.


    “Say the black, do the red.” When, O Lord?! :-(

  2. bryan says:

    Be that as it may, it won’t stop many (most?) pastors of parishes in the US, desiring to pander to the sensibilities of their ‘enlightened’ flock, from ignoring the Vatican, as they do with blithe regularity.

    One almost wishes something appearing in the MSM to the effect of:
    “His Holiness, via (name your congregation) wishes to restate for the record that, in mirroring the Lord’s washing of the feet of his 12 male apostles at the Last Supper, that priests, ordinaries, or others who, in the attempt to pander to the false sensibilities of the modern age, include women in this ritual are being disobedient to Our express wishes and are indicating their open dissent and disobedience to their sacred vows in a false sense of charity in truth.”

    Never see or hear that. Sadly. May be because it would fly in the face of the widespread adherence by many of the hierarchy to man’s truth rather than God’s truth.

    I just close my eyes at this point in the Mass on Holy Thursday and pray for the misguided who are leading their flocks in disobedience.

  3. Rob F. says:

    Back in 2004, the Old Oligarch had a startling (to me) reflection on the viri selecti: http://old-oligarch.blogspot.com/search?q=washing+feet

  4. Didn’t the Archdiocese of Boston say they had some special grant from Rome to allow women in this?
    I don’t quite understand why that would be allowed (aside from caving in to certain agendas).

  5. I did not even know this. But now that I do, I’ll be sure to promote this.

  6. Matt says:

    To risk sounding crass, I think the footwashing ceremony is a bit
    “silly” to begin with.

    I’m not sure what symbolism the faithful are supposed to come away with,
    except some vague social justice theme….this Last Supper ritual
    is so closely tied to the concept of priesthood that even washing regular
    laymen’s feet still begs the question (and here is where the sillyness
    comes in…men only. Okay, fine, yet the men only bit is only because the
    apostles were priests….but yet these men are NOT priests themselves, so rightly
    the feminist element has an issue with the ban…again whyy have the
    ceremony AT all?). It’s bascially a “let’s pretend” historic skit
    where men get to act in the role of Apostles for a day.

    I think the best option is not to do it at all.

  7. Thomas says:

    Roman Sacristan,

    When Cardinal O’Malley first came to Boston he only washed the feet of men, which was his practice throughout his priesthood. Of course people complained so he sought clarification from Rome. Now he’s allowed to, though I’m not sure he does. What Rome told His Eminence, I don’t know.

  8. Rob F. says:

    Matt said, “I’m not sure what symbolism the faithful are supposed to come away with…”
    Read the link I posted above (and will post below again). The symbolism we are supposed to come away with is that this is the night that Christ established a new order of priesthood, separate from that of Aaron.

  9. Royce says:

    Anyone who thinks the priest should have his feet washed by the people must have slept through the Gospel. Is this not exactly what Peter proposes and our Lord rejects?

  10. Matt says:

    Rob I agree with you….but how is this communicated by washing
    laymen’s feet, even when you realize this significance?…(good link
    by the way).

    Bear in mind that 99% of people have no idea this has anything
    to do with the priesthood by something akin to “love thy neighbor”.

    Again, why have “skits” during Mass? I think the 1955 decision
    was a forebearer of later ones…i.e. “liturgy is about community”
    and “lay participation”.

    If you had 12 priests in the ceremony, now that would be something
    I could understand.

  11. Clayton says:

    “If you had 12 priests in the ceremony, now that would be something
    I could understand.” (Matt)

    …or twelve candidates for the priesthood, deacons, or seminarians or something. I think that’s the correct thing maybe, to return to the gesture of the foot washing the proper priestly formation aspect, and not just a “who wants to come up into the sanctuary and get a pedicure” kind of event, which is meaningless.

  12. Liam says:

    Durign his ad limina visit to Rome in 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship told that Abp Sean could make a pastoral provision to permit women to be included in the Mandatum “if it would be helpful to the faithful” – and since 2005, he has done so.

    The history of the Mandatum ritual is fairly richer than what people may now realize. The current emphasis on it denoting the establishment of orders has displaced the much older and long-standing emphasis on discipleship more generally – hence why the ritual was long maintained in certain religious orders (female as well as male).

    My own personal view is that, if the point of the ritual is intended primarily to convey the establishment of orders, it might be better in the fullness of time for Rome to move it to the Chrism Mass.

  13. Jeff Miller says:

    Here are the details for the Archdiocese of Boston.

    In August 2004, “at the time of the ad limina visit to Rome, the archbishop sought clarification on the liturgical requirements of the rite of foot washing from the Congregation for Divine Worship, which has the responsibility for administering the liturgical law of the Church,” said an archdiocesan statement released in March. “The Congregation affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual, which recalls Christ’s service to the apostles who would become the first priests of the Church.”
    “The Congregation did, however, provide for the archbishop to make a pastoral decision concerning his practice of the rite if such a decision would be helpful to the faithful of the archdiocese,” the statement added. “Archbishop O’Malley has determined that he will participate in a modified rite of foot washing at the Cathedral this year. The participants in the rite will include men and women from the Cathedral parish and from social service agencies providing support to community members in need.”
    So I am not sure how exactly this would effect other diocese, but it would seem to me that an individual Bishop could decide to do this for pastoral reasons. But certainly this could not be done without the Bishop doing this. It would have been better if the CDW had not done this.

  14. So, from Chapter 25 of Book 1 of the TRILOGY:

    Eliyahu said, “Let me explain to you the theology of washing feet.” Here he was, a Jew, telling something to a Catholic priest, which he knew the priest should preach about every Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Eliyahu had often slipped into the churches of Rome during Holy Week to hear the homilies that would be given. He never heard any blaming of the Jews for the death of Christ as he expected. He was dismayed, however, at what he thought was trite nonsense about the symbolism of social service being expressed through the cleansing of feet. Corporal works of mercy were important, he knew, but there was another symbolism at work. This was his opportunity to teach a Catholic priest a lesson.

    Eliyahu spoke of the Garden of Eden, how the serpent would have to eat the dust to which the body of Adam would return on account of his having sinned at the Serpent’s instigation. He then contrasted this dust cursed by God with the ground around the burning bush, which had been made holy by the presence of the Most High, a reason for Moses not to wear sandals. The ground had been taken out of the realm of Satan. Seeing that Father Alexámenos nodded his head in agreement, Eliyahu continued, speaking of Jesus commanding his disciples to kick dust off their feet if their preaching was to be rejected by any village, symbolising that the dust of Satan was being kicked back in the their faces. He then spoke of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and said that his Apostles were to imitate this humble service, which referred especially to the cleansing of people from Satan’s presence as part of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. “Not all the Apostles were clean; Satan entered Judas.”


  15. While I do NOT endorse violating the norms of the Church for the celebration of Mass, I tend to agree with Liam. I’m not convinced that the institution of the priesthood had anything to do with the revival of the mandatum by Pius XII. I’d love to read evidence of what the ritual really stands for. (By the way, an opinion is not evidence, even if it’s really really good.) Rob K has written: “The symbolism we are supposed to come away with is that this is the night that Christ established a new order of priesthood, separate from that of Aaron.” I should think the Eucharist alone would have sufficed.

    A few years ago I wrote a piece on this subject…


    …although if I wrote it today, I might word some things a little differently. But my intention was to put the rule into some perspective.

  16. ben whitworth says:

    I am about to teach a course for would-be Catholic school teachers, and I just downloaded the form we have to fill in on each essay. ‘Has the student used inclusive language?’ If yes, we have to tick a box. Ticks are good. ‘Has the student avoided exhortatory language (must/should/ought)?’ is another criterion.

    This form says ‘Bishops Conference of England and Wales’ in big letters at the top.

  17. RichR says:

    I was on a liturgy committee once, and I brought this up. The priest said that the NCCB had received permission to do women, and I took it at face value. Some battles aren’t worth the fight when you’re the only one on the side of liturgical correctness.

    The average person won’t care, and they’d be quick to label you as “problem-maker” and “anti-woman” out of ignorance of liturgical law. So, while it’s easy for us to post on this blog that this is liturgically improper, and that it has the potential to undermine the male priesthood, I think that we need to see some action and catechesis by the hierarchy on this. It shouldn’t be the job of laymen to storm the gates and be liturgical policemen. While they do have a right to proper liturgy, they shouldn’t be made to feel like criminals just because they don’t want to fight the bureaucratic fight to correct a once-a-year abuse. It would be different if it was blueberry muffins being used for a consecration, or the whole invalid baptism thing like last week.

  18. RichR says:

    BTW, if anyone reading this feels motivated to try and fight this issue, I won’t discourage it. I can just say that you have to be prepared to face a lot of ignorant people who are quick to presume ill motives on your part.

  19. Thomasso says:

    “No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change this”.

    Try telling that to Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds and Chairman of ICEL and, apparantly, a leading comtender for the forthcoming archiepiscopal vacancy in Westminster. There were pictures posted on his diocesan website (now seemingly no longer there), where he is clearly seen washing the feet of women and young ladies. He’s either deficient in his knowledge of latin, dismissive of directives from the Holy See – or both. As a bishop in England and Wales, the latter is more likely. It is well-known that directives from Rome “do not apply to England and Wales”.

  20. Basil Roberson says:

    Fr Zuhlsdorf is incorrect in asserting that the Mandatum ceremony was ‘reintroduced’ by Pius XII. In the old Roman rite the mandatum was always there, taking place after the Maundy Thursday Mass and Vespers. In the old rite the feet of thirteen men were washed. Interstingly the celebrant wore violet vestments whilst the ministers were in white.

    With the Pacelli reforms of 1955 the rite was moved to after the gospel of the new evening mass and the number of men changed from thirteen to twelve.

  21. TNCath says:

    When the Congregation of Divine Worship told Cardinal O’Malley he could make a “pastoral decision concerning his practice of the rite if such a decision would be helpful to the faithful of the archdiocese,” this pretty left the door wide open for other bishops to do the same.
    Let’s face it: the Church blew it on this one. While I certainly support the retention of the rubrics, unless somebody starts enforcing it, I’m afraid the “men only” rule has gone the same route as mandatory abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year, the requirement by canon law that religious wear the habit of their institutes, and so many other things the “average Catholic” tends to ignore.

  22. Judy says:

    Just a note of encouragement for those who might like to try to change things in their parishes. Last year, our pastor came to Easter dinner at our house with several other friends, all of whom like the pastor and had good relationships with him already. One of the men at the dinner asked why women were included in the feet washing, and Fr. explained that he couldn’t get enough men. (For the record, he hadn’t asked for men only, just for anyone who was interested to volunteer, but in charity we let that pass.) We suggested that he give a try asking for men only and see what would happen. Nothing more has been said since, as far as I know. We do keep our pastor and parish in our prayers constantly asking for increasing reverence and faithfulness to the Magisterium. And, guess what, this year Fr. asked for men only and offered an explanation of the symbolism of the 12 apostles. And men are volunteering. Praise and thanks be to God.

  23. Dear Basil,

    Thanks, that is very interesting. In our Dominican Rite before 1957 (when we conformed to the Pius XII Holy Week reforms), the Mandatum also followed vespers of Holy Thursday. It was done either in the chapter room or in the refectory following the evening meal. The prior washed the his subject friars’ feet.

    My work on medieval Italian practice indicates that it was also done at after the evening meal and that the bishop washed his canons feet. As in central and north Italy (unless you were way out in a rural pieve–I don’t know what was done out there) the cathedral liturgy was almost always the only liturgy in the city during Holy Week and so this was the only foot-washing around. I suspect that the original location of the Mandatum in the E.F. is a relic of this episcopal ceremony. It would parallel the “clerical” nature of the ceremony in the rite of our order.

    But this is mere speculation as I don’t know what the practice was outside of central and north Italian cities in the 1100-1300s where the centralization of Holy Week rites at the cathedral was not so complete or did not exist at all.

  24. Ann says:

    The congregation opened the door to a deeper reflection on the history, theology and practice of the washing of the feet and surely if the exclusion of females was essential to the rite they would not have done so.

  25. Shane says:

    My understanding is that Cardinal O’Malley made the inquiry and afterwards chose to wash the feet of women because he had been speaking very harshly of feminism, going so far as to say that it was an obstacle to the revitilization of the Church, and he had received intense criticism, some involving the foot washing. He chose to wash some women’s feet in order to convey the message that no, he does not in fact hate women.

  26. Deborah says:

    It frustrates me to no end when there are so many indults thrown out from the CDW. One can understand why mosts priests and laity throw their hands up in frustration when trying to follow the liturgical laws of the modern Roman rite.

    There are so many choices, so many indults, and so many ambiguities, that would lead most to question whether the traditions in the Roman Sacred Liturgy really have any significant theological depth and meaning whatsoever.

    In my opinion, the CDW really need to tighten things up.

  27. Steve says:

    No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change thisFr. Z

    A sad, sad commentary that despite the clarity of the pronouncement, there is so much of this going on at each of these levels…

  28. Larry says:

    How ’bout this. At our parish we wash the feet of men, women and children! And we rarely can come up with 12. There was no push by the people for it, but our woman pastoral associate took it upon herself to get everyone involved to try to get “12 good people.”

  29. TNCath says:

    Deborah wrote: “It frustrates me to no end when there are so many indults thrown out from the CDW. One can understand why most priests and laity throw their hands up in frustration when trying to follow the liturgical laws of the modern Roman rite.”

    This is 100% correct. Too many options, too many interpretations, too many people trying to be pleased/appeased. The so-called “liturgical adaptations for the United States” for the GIRM only makes liturgical abuses more possible.

  30. Integer Vitae says:

    I’m not sure it makes much difference in this discussion, but in Rumer Godden’s (excellent) book In This House of Brede, the abbess in the enclosed order washed the feet of twelve of the nuns on Holy Thursday. I assume this was an accurate portrayal, since her research was pretty impeccable otherwise. I always assumed the ritual was about service more than the priesthood proper.

    Brede Abbey was based on England’s Stanbrook Abbey, now up for sale.

  31. Matt says:

    “Zuhlsdorf is incorrect in asserting that the Mandatum ceremony was ‘reintroduced’ by Pius XII. In the old Roman rite the mandatum was always there, taking place after the Maundy Thursday Mass and Vespers”

    My point exactly, as well as the piece about old Italian customs.

    The footwashing always took place outside Mass.

    Why do we have to have this ceremony during the Mass? It seems
    totally inappropriate to it during the liturgy.

  32. The Rubrics definately need tightening, no more “options” (or minimize them a couple of things)…I laugh the Liturgical Adaptations for the US. I’m a strict GIRM follower by the letter and not by the Spirit. To all fighting Liturgical battles, keep it up. Even if you’re thrown from the Parish, (that’s when you know you’re right)

  33. J. C. Oberholzer says:

    “If you had 12 priests in the ceremony, now that would be something I could understand.” (Matt)

    Years ago, I had the idea that the celebrant shining the shoes of 12 men might make more sense than washing there feet. But I have given up on that, and think that the washing of feet is unadvised. In my parish (Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia), Cardinal Rigali washes the feet of 12 seminarians. The local parish near my home washes men’s and women’s feet (although I haven’t been there for Sunday Mass or solemn occassion in 16 years).

  34. Deborah says:

    Perhaps it is better to ‘option out’ of the foot washing during the Sacred Liturgy.

    Imagine the confusion of the laity who have just heard or read an explanation from their pastor in regards the foot washing of men only, and then they read or hear from another pastor, from a nearby parish, why both men and women are to be included. The natural question will be, “why do the Church teachings keep changing?”

  35. In the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, I was informed that we are given the choice, of either following the liturgical norms, or substituting a collection of canned goods for the poor. I don’t imagine it stops some parishes from doing what they please. At the parish where I serve, we observe the traditional practice of men only. Of course, we don’t have altar girls either.

    Personally, I think the traditional practice is a lost cause. I hate to say that here, but the relationship between the practice and the institution of the priesthood is a bit of a stretch, and Rome has allowed it to be ignored for so long. It’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle once he’s loose, and I can’t imagine how, as a purely practical matter, they would go to so much trouble to renew enforcement, of what is, in the overall scheme of things (and I take pains to frame it in that context), not that serious a matter.

    Not even compared to altar girls, for example.

  36. Maureen says:

    It’s about the reversal of hierarchy as well as the institution of the priesthood. Therefore, it is proper that a priest should wash the feet of altarboys and deacons, or perhaps (male) lay ministers and church helpers — and in a female order, that the abbess should wash the feet of the novices and sisters.

    But (as I realized this evening) if a priest washes the feet of laywomen, he is saying that the normal way of things is for him to be the lord and master of such women. I reject such sexist symbolism, and thus object strenuously to priests washing women’s feet.

    (Unless it’s the church secretary, maybe.)

  37. Ann says:

    I doubt that there is one parish in this diocese that excludes females from the washing of the feet.

  38. Jeff Pinyan says:

    The problem is that the faithful aren’t catechized (properly) about the rite, and so form their own opinions and attach their own significance to it, and such personal attachments are hard to break later.

    I’m personally sad that last year, there were a handful of visiting priests present (maybe even a half-dozen!) who came up to the altar for the consecration… and then sat back down after they communicated. Seven EMsHC took their place. It’s happening again this year; I don’t know how many visiting priests are coming, but there are seven EMsHC scheduled again. :( When our Bishop celebrated our 25th Parish Anniversary Mass in October, there wasn’t a single EMHC (with the exception of an instituted acolyte, perhaps, but you get what I mean). I was really hoping that would kind of send the right message to my pastor.

  39. Julie says:


    The Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, MN does this correctly! Thanks be to God. It is SO very refreshing! http://www.cathedralsaintpaul.org

  40. Um… I mean… Why not pay attention to Christ on this matter? The footwashing has to do with all the hell that was going on with the Apostle Judas at the Last Supper and what the apostles would have to do about it in their ministry precisely as Apostles having divine authority to do something about it.

    I mean, are we so afraid of the fact that priests can be possessed by Satan? Are we not supposed to take Christ seriously on this point? Haven’t we seen any examples at all of this as the centuries go on, like, even today? If we want the hierarchy to do something about it, instead of promoting the hell that comes with fallen priests, why not take Christ and His actions seriously. He is our Saviour, after all. Or do we know better, telling Him we have to get up to date, keeping all the Judas-priests around so that they can do more harm?

    Sure, members of the Church can change non-sacramental symbols to mean whatever they want, licitly or not, and that new symbol can be ‘nice’. Whatever. Just don’t say that social service, however good and charitable and all of that, is the very same thing as the Apostles receiving a divine mandate to do something about the Judas-priests for the sake of the Church.

    We, on this earth, make up the Church Militant. Christ now enters into battle with Satan on Calvary, as per Genesis 3,15. Judas raises his heel, in mockery of Genesis 3,15, against Christ. But, instead, Christ has the victory. Are we with Him, or do we just do the politically correct emotion thing?

    Oremus… http://www.clerus.org/clerus/dati/2008-01/25-13/Adoration.pdf

    For your convenience, from the RSV:

    John 13:1-19 John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. 6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” 12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I AM.

    Our Lord God is not out of date. God bless!

  41. C says:

    “while clearly the Apostles were men, not boys or youths”. Actually I have always been told that St John was probably about 15 when our Lord started his ministry, that would certainly make him a boy/youth.

  42. peregrinus says:

    According to canon law, isn’t a male above the age of 7 considered an adult male? So even with a strict reading of the viri selecti of the Missale, it would not contravene the liturgical norms to wash the feet of altar servers above the age of 7. I can’t imagine any parishes have servers younger than 7.

  43. Thorfinn says:

    Last year I attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a parish in northern Wisconsin. The priest “presider” explained that we don’t wash feet anymore in our modern culture, we wash hands; and so invited everyone in the “assembly” to come forward, water was poured over their hands and wiped with a towel. Does that remind you of anything else. This is much worse than no catechesis.

  44. Maureen says:

    If that priest doesn’t wash his feet anymore, doesn’t it get kinda stinky around the rectory? :)

    *roll eyes* I really get tired of this whole “we don’t do this in modern society” thing. Apparently modern first world culture is the only culture that matters. Jesus is just some ignorant backwater person whom we can ignore when convenient. Sigh.

    He’s God. He made Time. He picked out something pretty simple that you could do anywhere in any time. And here we are, in all our prosperity with plenty of water and towels, unable to follow simple directions because we’re just too good for that.

    Re: “men”

    If John were over thirteen, he was a man by Jewish law

  45. Maynardus says:

    I was mildy curious whether the even-more-extreme abuse of handwashing (shades of Pontius Pilate) was still in vogue amongst the liturgically “progressive”. Back in 1999, the last time I attended Holy Thursday in the new rite, the pastor of my old parish washed the feet of three men and three women, then had the ushers distribute Wash-n-Dri packets and instructed us to “minister to your neighbor”. I knelt in shame with tears streaming down my cheeks.

    Afterward a friend told my wife how “moving” it had been, and noted how “moved” (I) had obviously been! Yeah, moved to tears! When I recovered enough to ask the “presider” he told me blithely that it wasn’t his idea, it had been described in a magazine that all of the parishes get and that it was the “hot thing” that year! He also cited the “not enough men” canard. And then he wondered why we left the parish!

    Sorry to inflict this horror story on all y’all. I mentioned it to the auxiliary bishop who was responsible for our region at that time but he dismissed my concerns. Shortly thereafter he was nominated as ordinary of a nearby diocese where his liturgical apathy continues…

  46. Liam says:

    I am just waiting for foot reflexology to make a move into this ritual (sarcasm alert).

  47. Lynne says:

    Quoting Shane, my comments in bold…

    “My understanding is that Cardinal O’Malley made the inquiry and afterwards chose to wash the feet of women because he had been speaking very harshly of feminism, good for him! going so far as to say that it was an obstacle to the revitilization of the Church thank goodness the woman who thought she had been ordained left the employ of the archdiocese, and he had received intense criticism, some involving the foot washing. He chose to wash some women’s feet in 2005, 2006, 2007… in order to convey the message that no, he does not in fact hate women.”


  48. Jef says:

    I know this is off topic but must a Chrism Mass be held on Holy Thursday? or can it be moved to the thursday before i.e yesterday

  49. Francis says:

    Thought is was interesting from the USCCB Web – PC trumps the GIRM.

    Because the gospel of the mandatum read on Holy Thursday also depicts Jesus as the “Teacher and Lord” who humbly serves his disciples by performing this extraordinary gesture which goes beyond the laws of hospitality,2 the element of humble service has accentuated the celebration of the foot washing rite in the United States over the last decade or more. In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world. Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service.

    While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men (“viri selecti”), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, “who came to serve and not to be served,” that all members of the Church must serve one another in love.

  50. Louis says:

    I just got chewed out for using this fact to explain why I didn’t want to participate in the foot washing. I was told I “went off the deep end” and “will have a miserable life.” :-(

  51. m.a. says:

    Here is a little different take on footwashing. I was asked this year to be one of the twelve men and women to have their foot washed. For years, I have always had something else to do on that evening and even further, I would never volunteer for that rite.

    One reason for not wanting to participate was that in my years of doing things in my parish, I was always in a “servant” role; thus it was very difficult for me to be on the receiving end, “to be served”. It took a lot of prayerful change in my outlook to be able to say “yes” to the request. I thank God for that grace. I will be one of the twelve people on Thursday.

  52. m.a. I will be one of the twelve people on Thursday.

    So long as you are male, this isn’t a problem.

    If you are female, you will be complicit in a violation of the Church’s liturgical law and entirely out of step with the meaning of the occasion and the rite.

  53. Steve says:

    Last year I chose to fight this battle which quickly degraded into a type of a debate with my Bishop where I ended up contacting the papal nuncio. I never heard back from the nuncio but low and behold this year I have been told that it will be 12 men included in this rite. So let this empower all those who would be content to sit by idly and pray while the Solemnity of the our Lords Institution of His priesthood, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is forced to bow to the court of public opinion. No word yet weather the correction is diocese wide, but at least my parish is compliant with Rome on this one.
    A regular guy

  54. Mike says:

    Our paster refuses to even do this rite. “I don’t wash feet!” is his reply to the request. Is he right? Is this rite truly reuqired?

  55. AJdiocese says:

    Mike: Yes the foot washing is optional.

    Jef: Yes it can be moved. Our diocese does it on Monday.

  56. ML says:

    We don’t go to any celebrations/devotions in our diocese because of all the garbage that goes on…
    But few years ago, when a priest did it correctly, my young daughter was sure that he didn’t dry the men’s feet, he smelled them to make sure he did a good enough job…So on the Paschal triduum I lke to remember this and smile instead of crying at the rampant liturgical abuses.