Sentimentality and feelin’ good V. reason and good order

From the blog of Prof Ed Peters, canonist.

Some thoughts on the VPO statement regarding the Mandatum rite controversy
by Dr. Edward Peters
The background to this controversy is the antinomianism that prevails today.

The Church is passing through a period in which the relationship between ecclesiastical law and the life of faith is widely misunderstood and the very content of Church law is often poorly explained. My attempts to address this double problem include explaining how law is important to a faith community, but even more, I try to explain what the law is at present—for one can hardly debate how ecclesiastical law ought to read if one does not know what it already says.

The controversy over Pope Francis’ disregard of a liturgical law in the Mandatum rite exposes, I think, how many others in the Church misunderstand important aspects of ecclesiastical law and how a misguided attempt to explain Church law can actually provoke more issues for the faithful than it settles.

A Vatican Press Office statement asserts:

“One can easily understand that in a great celebration, men would be chosen for the foot washing because Jesus, himself wash[ed] the feet of the twelve apostles who were male. However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening in the Juvenile Detention Centre in Rome took place in a particular, small community that included young women.”

Such language, I fear, confuses matters.

The basic meaning of a rite, and certainly the interpretation to be given a rubric like this one, does not depend on the number of people attending the liturgy. No theory is offered to show that in large congregations Christ’s modeling of apostolic ministry is intended by the Mandatum, but in small congregations his modeling of love is intended. Asserting otherwise only sows confusion for other liturgical questions. Similarly, to say that the interpretation of this rubric turns on the presence of “young women” is to make effectively universal that odd interpretation (really: how many pastoral settings consist only of males?)

“To have excluded the young women from the ritual washing of feet on Holy Thursday night in this Roman prison, would have detracted our attention from the essence of the Holy Thursday Gospel…”

This unguarded language risks being understood as “following this Church law detracts attention from the essence of the Gospel”. I cannot imagine that this was really meant, but that is basically what is communicated. I do not think there is a conflict between Church law and the essence of the Gospel, notwithstanding that Church laws, from time to time, need to be reformed (as I have suggested the Mandatum rubric should be). In any case, this problematic language exemplifies why Vatican press statements are not vehicles of official legal interpretation in the Church. Canon law makes clear who has authority to authentically interpret Church laws (1983 CIC 16 § 1, ap. con. Pastor Bonus 154 ff., and certain congregations in regard to certain matters).

“… and the very beautiful and simple gesture of a father who desired to embrace those who were on the fringes of society; those who were not refined experts of liturgical rules.”

Again, this is unfortunate language.

The implication seems to be that rubrics are understandable by (and ultimately applicable only to) “refined experts of liturgical rules”. I disagree: many rubrics indeed reflect deep theological truths (and thus rubrics are often exercises in something more than legal positivism), but most rubrics are meant to be easily understandable by normal priests ministering in typical pastoral settings. It is a disservice to suggest that respect for Church law is primarily the concern of “refined experts” or that ecclesiastical law has little bearing on how believers should conduct their faith life.

“That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.”

I agree that Francis’ action achieved this good effect.

What I find distressing is the inability to recognize (or refusal to acknowledge) that this action also had other effects, effects that might not be so benign. I have argued that among those effects was the sowing of new confusion about the binding character of liturgical laws in general, about the influence of a pope on good order in the community, and so on. Now, to be sure, there are sound answers to these questions, but they are not easily offered in the middle of the Triduum and splashed across secular news stories and blogs. This whole matter should have been handled differently from the start.

Finally, this sort of language pits “love, affection, forgiveness and mercy” against “legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.” Thus accepted is the well-worn but false dichotomy between the spiritual goods of the Church and her legal traditions. Such a charge is often leveled against canon law today, but it was expressly rejected by Pope John Paul II when he wrote that Church law “is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace, and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it.” John Paul II, ap. con. Sacrae disciplinae leges (1983) 16.

Law in the Church—canon, liturgical, sacramental, etc.—is not an end in itself, but instead serves greater ends. Yet, precisely as law, it cannot serve these purposes if it is ignored and/or explained away, two fates often suffered by law in antinomian times.

More on this, and on the Press Office statement later,

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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95 Responses to Sentimentality and feelin’ good V. reason and good order

  1. The Masked Chicken says:

    It is never good to imply that a Rite is a wrong…

    It is very hard to steer a Church when you set out to make a Rite and take a left turn, instead.

    Thank you, thank you…I’ll will not be appearing, live at the April Fool, for the rest of the week.

    The Chicken

  2. ocalatrad says:

    We can’t even rely on our Holy Father to keep things in order anymore. This throws every well-formed, rightly-minded priest’s arguments for liturgical propriety under the bus. “Well, the Holy Father washed the feet of women!”

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    On Holy Thursday, our Jesuit-trained priest quoted 4 times what the Holy Father said that day. He especially was strong about there being no, I’ll call it class distinctions, between the priest and the people. He hinted that he, and perhaps many priests, see themselves as above the people, or something like that. And after what was for me a message borne of his own projections on us, he then proceeded to invite all from the congregation to have their feet washed by him. I still can’t figure out the humility lesson in all of this.

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    Not that I would presume to be an authority on matters such as these.

    But as “a fanny in the pew”; the problem I see is arbitrariness (if that’s even a word).

    If I don’t pay attention to the details in smaller matters, how can I be expected to be taken seriously in larger matters? Where is “the line drawn?”

    That’s just life expereince and common sense as I see it, but then again, I’m just me.

  5. vox borealis says:

    Another home run by Prof. Peters (I understad why he does not have comments on his, but I hope he sees my complimentary comments here). I tried to post a link to one of his other articles on this same topic on one of the Catholic blogs on Patheos, but the blog owner (and not Mark Shea, believe it or not) deleted the comment and link as “critical of the Holy Father.” This same blogger proceded to post several links about Francis’ Holy Thursday liturgy and to comment on how wonderful it was because the washing of women’s feet was “meaningful to me.”

    Antinomianism and sentimentalism reigns.

  6. Imrahil says:

    Dear @ocalatrad,

    it does not cancel the following two arguments:
    1. let us do what it is liturgically proper because this really means this and symbolizes that and, etc. etc., follows a three-minute argumentation for those willing enough to listen.
    2. both the law says it, and I say it. The Holy Father did what he wanted to do; I (speaking in the person of the celebrant) do what I want to do too and this happens to be following the law. You may want the exception; but I don’t, and it is I who decide. Don’t talk on; the decision is done already.

    When you talked about a well-formed priest, I do assume he talks a lot like No. 1.

    It does throw under the bus the argument (for good and for evil)
    3. we must do it because it is the law.
    (And although I have often argued for a fine distinction and that there are things more important than mere-positive law, I certainly acknowledge that this could be “for evil” in quite some ways.)

    Dear @LarryW2LJ,
    please forgive me for quoting Our Lord’s words on “do not judge”. Of course it is legitimate to call a spade a spade, a sin a sin, and so on. But it’s actually quite punctilious: It is in the nature of the office of judge to draw a line, noone else has to. Judge is a necessary office, and compatible with the Sermon of the Mount; but for those not appointed to the position of judge, we certainly may (and, perhaps, ought to; but at any rate it is for us the more comfortable thing to do) choose not to exercise it.
    There are bad things. We can recognize them and if, speak out against them. But we are not obliged to draw a line, outlawing good or neutral things because it cannot otherwise be drawn, if we, to our comfort, have not been appointed judges.

  7. mamajen says:

    I don’t think wanting to ignore the law is limited to the “feel good” crowd–we saw that with the Fr. Guarnizo controversy (I don’t think he intended to ignore the law, but many of his supporters did even after it was explained clearly).

    The Vatican has been sending mixed signals with the foot-washing thing for quite some time. This reminds me very much of the justification for exempting Cardinal O’Malley from the law (kudos to him for doing the right thing in the end). On the one hand, it makes sense that if the Vatican would exempt people from the law, that the Pope can most certainly exempt himself without that implying a precedent for everyone to do what they wish with any aspect of the liturgy. On the other hand, it seems completely ludicrous to have the law on the books as it is written if exceptions can be made. So, even though I have said before that this incident didn’t worry me much, I can see how the law either needs to be changed or enforced across the board in order to avoid a slippery slope–even if priests and bishops are wise enough not to take matters into their own hands, they may expect that exemptions could be granted for just about anything.

  8. VexillaRegis says:

    Just a general comment from Supertradmum’s blog. Fr. Guillermo Marco, ex-press secretary for eight years to the Pope held a speech at Tyburn convent in London on the 26th of March. STM refers: “Fr Marco, who is not a jesuit, said something interesting:”The other thing is that the jesuits have a very clever thinking, but they only say what appeals or refers to you. One never knows what they are really thinking.”

    http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/talk-by-ex-press-secretary-to-pope.html

  9. LarryW2LJ says:

    Imrahil,

    I didn’t mean “to draw a line” as in judging anyone. I meant it as in teaching people. I suffer from not bing able to convey inwiritng, what is going on in my head.

    For example, if I as a teacher, tell my students in a certain matter, “Oh don’t worry about following the rules here, that’s just a formailty”. But then on something really important, when the rules MUST be followed, I say’ This is very important – you must follow ALL the rules”.

    For my students, that can lead to confusion. “Why do I have to follow the rules here; but not here?”

    That’s all I’m trying to say. It can lead to frustration and difficulty down the road, because it can lead people like me, who are not as educated in matters such as these, not to be certain as to when matters are to be followed absolutely and when the rules can be “relaxed” so to speak.

    I hope I made that clear.

  10. Blog Goliard says:

    Catholicism is a “both/and” religion. Both Scripture and Tradition; both law and love; both obedience and creativity; both pomp and simplicity; both continuity and change.

    Those who would set one aspect against another are not being very good Catholics.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    All week long I have had to listen to people who are Catholic make the antagonism between Benedict and Francis more painful than necessary.

    This idea that the legality of the Church, such as the use of Canon Law or even the precepts of the Church have nothing to do with Christ is sickening.

    The mindset is Protestant. No tradition, no laws, just sola fide and sola scriptura.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    PS what I mean by antagonism is not real between the men, by the way, but by those who are choosing to make such a dichotomy. This will only get worse.

  13. Blog Goliard says:

    Also, I completely understand the reaction we’ve seen from many, along the lines of: “back off man, we’re trying to reform the Church and follow the Gospel here, these picky little rules are in the way and don’t matter and surely no disaster will result from ignoring or changing them”…so long as it’s coming from people who are just now waking up from a 50-year coma.

    Everyone else should know better.

  14. Brian K says:

    Obedience and true humility go hand in hand, always. “Humility” without obedience may not be humility.

  15. Fr. W says:

    Yes, the washing of feet by Christ teaches humility and service, but much more is going on in that gospel scene. Our Lord is teaching that one must be ‘washed’ (i.e., baptism) before participating in the Eucharistic table. But yet another importance of this action recalls that the levitical priests, before offering sacrifice had to wash their feet. Our Lord by his action, is teaching that these MEN are now his priests, and they are about to offer Sacrifice (the Last Supper). [Ex 40:31, 30:19] So there is a clear theological reason for not washing women’s feet. The liturgical law is teaching theology here. I fear that we are forgetting how we got here!

  16. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Perfectly clear, Larry.

    A buddy of mine went to Holy Mass at his home parish on Sunday. There was an article on the Holy Thursday incident in their local newspaper on Saturday. (top of page 2!)

    The priest said he applauded the changing of tradition the way Pope Francis did last Thursday. He went on to say that people in the Church “see things differently” than others. Some, he said, see the “glass as half-full, others see it as half-empty.”

    My response to my friend was very simple:

    What if I, as a volunteer at this priest’s parish, don’t see things the way the priest does? (or some other official Church “tradition” [big “T” or little “t”] be it faith, morals, liturgy or discipline)

    What if I suddenly start doing things contradictory to some Church discipline (for all to see) or blatantly disobey something the priest wants done and is contradictory to his wishes?

    How can the priest have a problem with this? After all, I am seeing the glass half-empty compared to his half-full.

    This is why there are rules and regulations in the first place (hey, Kingdoms, including our Lord’s, have rules). So chaos and personal opinions will not enter into the equation. (say the black, do the red, right?)

    Rigid? Hardly! On the contrary it sets us free.

    MSM

  17. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I mentioned a few days ago that a priest is almost bound to know that he will spark confusion among the faithful (I used the word scandal then, which fits according to the definition of the word). As the encyclical caritas in veritate so well points out if that truth is know then the priest in question is no longer acting objectively in charity because charity that is not enlightened by truth becomes an empty shell. “So what do we think about the Holy Thursday Mandatum being set aside for the sake of showing compassion?” It seems clear to me: The Holy Father did not succeed in showing compassion because he made his love into an empty shell to be filled with opinions and emotionalism; the decision to neglect liturgical law erodes the good work of so many priests around the world who give their every energy to providing good liturgy.

    I think that the Holy Father should speak to his mistake in a public way in the interest of holding back the eroding effect that this oversight has caused. I know from my own experience that an apology would also bring real healing to the many orthodox Catholics whose efforts to share the gospel of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful have been undermined to some extent by this recent show of false compassion. I am not saying that the Holy Father doesn’t care. I am saying that his caring was undermined by his oversight of liturgical law, and I believe that he knew that this was a possibility before he chose to disregard this liturgical law. If he does not admit the mistake so that we can get back to the business of being Catholic (united) then many things will continue to unravel: Catholic identity and authenticity take a hit when a public figure such as the Holy Father acts with disregard about liturgical laws, and those priests who are confused about what good liturgy is will find license to implement changes based solely on their own subjective opinions about the Mass. No good will come from this unless Pope Francis makes up for his mistake in an equally public way.

  18. PaulK says:

    What worries me is people like Fr Thomas Rosica are now releasing press statements on behalf of the Vatican.

  19. dominic1955 says:

    I cannot be miffed at Pope Francis-his predecessors have been screwing around with the liturgy for th past 50-60 years. Pope Pius XII, whom even crazy sedevacantists consider legit, put a chink in the armor by allowing Holy Week to get screwed around with. Going back farther than that, Pope Urban VIII allowed some egghead classicists to rewrite the ancient hymns of the breviary in their faux-Ciceronian Latin. Granted, the worst offenses have happened since Vatican II, but the previous things laid the groundwork.

    There is also the issue of the hubris involved in a “scientific” redoing of liturgy based on “scholarship” as seen with the Protestant revolt, the neo-Gallicans and the Aufklarung/Josephist “reforms” and the more recent post-Vatican II debacle. It seems that every generation or so consigns the work of the previous generation as so much simple-minded garbage but now, in some miraculous way, “we” (Protestants, neo-Gallicans, Bugnini-ites, etc.) have finally gotten it right. A new day dawns to disperse the darkness of superstition and error of all that came before. Complete and utter garbage, yet we fall for it over and over again.

  20. jhayes says:

    Fr. Cantalamessa preached to Francis and the others present in St. Peter’s on Good Friday:

    “In Revelation, Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). Sometimes, as noted by our Pope Francis, he does not knock to enter, but knocks from within to go out. To reach out to the “existential suburbs of sin, suffering, injustice, religious ignorance and indifference, and of all forms of misery.”As happens with certain old buildings. Over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: “Go, Francis, and repair my Church”.

    And

    “We must do everything possible so that the Church may never look like that complicated and cluttered castle described by Kafka, and the message may come out of it as free and joyous as when the messenger began his run. We know what the impediments are that can restrain the messenger: dividing walls, starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy, the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris.”

    http://blog.texasnuns.com/2013/03/29/fr-cantalamessas-good-friday-sermon/

  21. robtbrown says:

    mamajen says:

    I don’t think wanting to ignore the law is limited to the “feel good” crowd–we saw that with the Fr. Guarnizo controversy (I don’t think he intended to ignore the law, but many of his supporters did even after it was explained clearly).

    A friend who regularly says the TLM told me that Fr Guarnizo is someone who tends to create problems where there are none.

  22. jsing says:

    People and the media have been very impressed with Pope Francis “humility”. I believe he needs to be careful with his humility. Humility is doing the lawful thing ever if you dislike it. Humility isn’t “doing things my way”. Humility can quickly slip into pride. I think Pope Francis is used to doing these good things in his country. I don’t think he yet realizes how public his gestures are. Let’s just say a lot of prayers for him and his (to me) impossible job. May the Good Lord bless Pope Francis in great abundance.

  23. Jack Regan says:

    I’ll be interested to see how the Holy Father tackles the matter of liturgical law going ahead…

  24. RR says:

    If it is a bad rule, repeal the rule according to the regular channels.

    Breaking rules in the “spirit of the Gospel” (subjectively interpreted) is a bad precedent that will embolden those who dislike the rules. Pretty easy to justify most anything by invoking some vague spirit of the Gospel or the importance of “stepping outside oneself” and other such fudge.

    This calls to mind the kind of casual rule-breaking and institutionalization of dissent that was justified by “Anglican fudge” and essentially tore up the Anglican Communion. A destructive path to go onto. And let no one think that the Anglican Communion was, for all its foibles, some sort of great evangelizer. Evangelization is almost non-existent among liberal Anglican factions.

  25. Blog Goliard says:

    @jsing: Good points.

    Humility is wonderful. Becoming world-famous for one’s humility is dangerous.

    As with every one of his predecessors, Pope Francis has been placed in a thoroughly impossible position, and burdened with an inexhaustible supply of unmanageable tasks. Unless, of course, he is sustained by a constant, tremendous outpouring of God’s grace and love.

    Our Holy Father desperately needs our prayers. I wasn’t sufficiently mindful of this with Benedict, not until the very end…which was probably true of a lot of us. Shan’t make that mistake again.

  26. RR says:

    “I cannot be miffed at Pope Francis-his predecessors have been screwing around with the liturgy for th past 50-60 years. Pope Pius XII, whom even crazy sedevacantists consider legit, put a chink in the armor by allowing Holy Week to get screwed around with. Going back farther than that, Pope Urban VIII allowed some egghead classicists to rewrite the ancient hymns of the breviary in their faux-Ciceronian Latin. Granted, the worst offenses have happened since Vatican II, but the previous things laid the groundwork.”

    I am not sure I agree with this. The problem is not whether it is okay to revise liturgy, but whether it is okay to flout rules casually without going through the formal process to evaluate the wisdom of such action. Particularly in the solemnity of the Triduum. Pope Pius XII may have revised Holy Week liturgy (for the better), but he did it in an organized, formal way that respects the process.

  27. david andrew says:

    Here’s another wrinkle I came across while doing some research on a separate liturgical/rubric question. Permit me to “drill down” further into this whole matter.

    In the rubrics for Holy Thursday’s “Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper”, we read the following (as published and paraphrased in the Newsletter of the USCCB’s Committee On the Liturgy):

    “The rubrics, by way of exception, allow for the local Ordinary to permit another Mass in churches and oratories to be celebrated in the evening, and, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning. Such Masses are provided for those who are in now way able to participate in the evening Mass and not for the advantage of individuals or (newly added) special small groups (Missale Romanum “Rubrics for the Evening Mass” (EM, no. 3)”

    According to the Vatican Press Office, it was specifically because this was a special group in a special situation that the rubrics governing the Mandatum were abandoned. (“However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening in the Juvenile Detention Centre in Rome took place in a particular, small community that included young women.”)

    So the pattern is now clear: seize upon a situation that clearly cannot comport with the theology of the rites, such as offering the Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in an environment and under circumstances that clearly preclude the entirety of the liturgy from being celebrated in the manner and for the purpose which is clearly stated by tradition and in the rubrics, that is, the memorial of the institution of the Lord’s Supper and enjoying the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to continue offering it in perpetuity, as well as the memorial of the institution of the priesthood itself, by which Christ’s mission and sacrifice are perpetuated in the world (to paraphrase the Ceremonial of Bishops). The table is now set for a complete re-contextualizing (or a re-theologizing, if you will) of the rites themselves.

    It is an insidious form of iconoclasm cleverly disguised as “compassion” and “outreach to the marginalized,” in my opinion. We now have a situation where the Holy Thursday rites can mean whatever the celebrant wants them to mean, which if memory serves, is called relativism, and something which we have been warned against time and again. If these important symbols, even those that can be called simple “sacramentals” can be made to mean whatever is relevant at the time, what makes the Catholic Identity unique? If the Catholic Church can be reduced to meaningful “symbols” only, then the Eucharist becomes a memorial, the priesthood unnecessary or redundant and the Protestants our equals in all things.

    I understand Francis’ motivations, and am not without compassion regarding his desire to reach out to those who are marginalized. However, the purpose and meaning of the rites of Holy Thursday are clear, or at least they used to be. Washing the feet of those who cannot become priests stands the symbol on it’s head, and re-contextualizes the symbol and the other rites of Holy Thursday completely. If he had simply gone ahead with the celebration of the rites of Holy Thursday as the Church clearly intends, and then gone over to the prison and done his thing there, the opportunity for scandal and confusion would have been mitigated.

    In addition, I have so far found his homilies, which have been so wildly received, lacking anything which truly sets them apart from any sermon one might hear from a Protestant preacher. The theology is sound, and heterodox. We have a unique Catholic identity, remember? We were taught and exhorted by the Pope Emeritus repeatedly on the importance of our identity and its reclamation, and others took up the call, proclaiming that it was only through an unashamed and steadfast fidelity to our liturgical identity that we as Catholics would regain our legitimate voice in the public square. “Save the Liturgy, Save the World” was the rallying cry. Remember Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” and how true and faithful liturgical reform was “the tip of the spear”? Some plan, some spear. The spear has been used to open a gaping wound in the side of the reform, and the plan burned as kindling to start the fires of the new iconoclasm. And it would seem that the same voices that rallied for saving the liturgy and the world now ring hollow and hoarse.

    Other questions come to mind: Was there a Chrism Mass for the diocese of Rome? Was there a proper Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper for the diocese of Rome? Have the priests received any kind of exhortation (as has been tradition) on Holy Thursday from the Holy Father?
    Can the Holy Father simply disregard 2000 years of received tradition and establish a new theology at the foundation of the rites of the Church? What of the notion of confusion and scandal?

    Honestly I have no idea where any of this is going, but what is clear is that the flock is being scattered, and somewhere the ravening wolves await.

  28. PA mom says:

    Ok, our newspaper had a “ordain women” article on Easter Sunday. I get it.

    So, last week was “kick conservatives week”. Does that mean that we can hope for “level Liberals week” this week?

  29. Rich says:

    It’s a pity that the expertise of Ed Peters must be spent dissecting a statement from the Holy See’s press office such as this, which seemed more intent on making excuses than trying to explain and teach.

  30. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LarryW2LJ,

    I may have expressed myself badly. What I was trying to say was not meant as an offense or moralizing. What I did want to say was the following. You said

    It can lead to frustration and difficulty down the road, because it can lead people like me, who are not as educated in matters such as these, not to be certain as to when matters are to be followed absolutely and when the rules can be “relaxed” so to speak.

    I wanted to say: As long as you need not do the things regulated by these rules nor teach another one about them, you need not either bother about the what is relaxed and what is not.

    “Need” meaning “need” and not a cowardly moralizing euphemism for “must”. But, speaking for myself, I need not bother and bothering would make my life more hard, I won’t.

    Dear @Chicken,

    if I may take your comment seriously… that something can be bad in a Rite is, unfortunately, the case.

    I do not comment whether it was a wise decision to drop one of the two genuflections after Transsubstantiation. But it is obvious, and I cannot possibly imagine any doubt, that if so, it is the second one that should have been removed, rather than the first, which greets Our Lord immediately after His coming. Done it was, as we know, in the other way.

  31. McCall1981 says:

    Slightly off topic, but still Pope Francis/Liturgy related:

    Father Lombardi said that the reason Pope Francis doesn’t sing (and I presume chant) is because he “has a certain amount of tone deafness”. I thought some around here would be interested to know that.

    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=7355

  32. Lepidus says:

    I wonder what would happen if some tradition-minded OF priest decided that this year he was going to spend his vacation learning the EF (or over the course of a couple vacations). He comes back fully prepared to offer the EF…even had a bit of inheritence that he used to obtain the necessary vestments, etc. and even trained some altar boys. Only one problem – the “gotcha” clause in Summorum Pontificum that you need a “stable” group to request it. Oh well…liturgical laws, who cares? First Sunday of every month will be EF Sunday at his parish from now on. (Or even better, a random Sunday). I wonder if his brother priests who are justifying every other type of liturgical nightmare would jump to his support as well?

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear @david andrew,

    in all outrage against our Holy Father’s action (which I don’t share, but which I don’t reproach you for), we still might as well remember that the Mandatum never had to do with Holy Orders, except the conincidence that it was done to the Apostles. This was, however, a coincidence. The Mandatum has to do with service, and with the sins remaining after Baptism, or perhaps the venial sins remaining in him who has sanctifying grace. [Should the latter part of the preceding sentence get a “[!]” into it? You decide.]

    At least I have never yet seen a theologian who positively and by reasons and reasonings upholds that the Mandatum has a systematic connection to Holy Orders. Dr Peters, after all, called for abolishing the norm.

    We have a case of a Pope exempting himself for the law, apparently with writing himself a formally promulgated dispensation. I do not say that this is, or is not, a light matter (I think it is, but this is a parenthesis; again, Remember it’s Italy).

    But I do say that, with the women, we do not have more than that.

  34. TNCath says:

    “One can easily understand that in a great celebration, men would be chosen for the foot washing because Jesus, himself wash[ed] the feet of the twelve apostles who were male. However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening in the Juvenile Detention Centre in Rome took place in a particular, small community that included young women.”

    Once again, the word “Jesuitical” keeps popping up in my mind…

  35. Priam1184 says:

    Father, the title of this post spoke of reason and good order, but unfortunately this is age is an age of unreason and anarchy, at least in the Western world. It is, I think, a product of the technological ease with which we live our lives and our fantastic material wealth. One says to himself why do I need to employ the wisdom of the long ages that went before me, after look at all that my generation has accomplished. We possess such wonders and they are all our own creation (and here is where they slip into Satan’s own sin) so why do I have to listen to anyone. Why shouldn’t I just do whatever feels good and right, look how far it has already gotten us. Material poverty would cure this, and poverty may be what is coming to this world, but until that day arrives this is just something that all of us are going to have to deal with and suffer through. Again I am not so much talking about the Holy Father’s action here as the multitude of priests and bishops who will use his behavior as an excuse to do whatever they feel like with the liturgy.

  36. chantgirl says:

    I am reminded of the scene from Fiddler on the Roof where the guests at the wedding ask the rabbi about men and women dancing together. The rabbi barely gets half a sentence out “Well, it’s not exactly forbidden..” before the hootenanny starts.

    Similarly, priests and laity who need some outside encouragement to respect the rules hardly ever stick around to hear the rest of the explanation if they have been given the slightest approval to break them. The sentimentality vs. reason debate can be seen in the push to redefine marriage, the abortion debate, the welfare state debate. How do we reason with a culture that does not know how to think? We certainly can’t re-educate a majority of adults. We have to somehow persuade them that the logical answer is also the compassionate answer. Somehow, we need to be proactive in our own media image, rather than simply responding to what is said about us. I can understand Pope Francis wanting to project a more compassionate image, but some care needs to be taken that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot in the process.

  37. Giuseppe says:

    I am not surprised that some reasoning of the pope and his press secretary is ‘Jesuitical’.

    Re. David_Andrews – the pope did celebrate a lovely Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday at the Vatican. Video is on http://www.vatican.va, a fine web site for video footage of important events.

  38. JLCG says:

    It is easy and sentimental to think that Jesus humiliates Himself by washing feet.
    On the contrary the washing of the feet is a manifestation of His power. If the dirt of life is not washed from their bodies, the inferior part of their bodies, they cannot be his disciples.
    When Peter remonstrates Him He shows how little they have understood. Peter has seen in this act just a hierarchical manifestation instead of a liberating one.
    It is a manifestation of redemptive power.
    Naturally our superficial minds tend to see these acts as part of, let’s say, a moralizing fable. It is a cosmic deed that affects us all.

  39. The pope is tone deaf? So are many other celebrants and that doesn’t stop them howling out so tunes!

  40. mamajen says:

    “Washing the feet of those who cannot become priests stands the symbol on it’s head, and re-contextualizes the symbol and the other rites of Holy Thursday completely.”

    This is exactly where we run into problems. The law says nothing about participants being eligible for the priesthood. As I’ve mentioned before, people don’t blink when married men participate in foot-washing. Some have attempted to justify their lack of outrage by pointing out that in some places married priests are allowed, and some of the apostles were married. Hogwash. Either this sends a message, or it doesn’t. If washing women’s feet is a commentary on women and the priesthood, then washing the feet of married men is a commentary on celibacy (if you subscribe to the idea that foot-washing is all about the priesthood, which I do not).* There are also plenty of people who think involving women is just awful, but who are quite willing to overlook “little” exceptions so long as the participants are at least male, if not actually adults as is required. Certain exceptions are worse than others, I guess? It’s just silly.

    I think it’s quite enough to say that we wash the feet of adult males because that is the precedent Jesus set. Attempting to attach further meaning, whether “modern” or “traditional” or “liberal” or “conservative” simply muddies the waters, makes the law look poorly written, and threatens to lose the message(s) that Jesus was trying to communicate.

    *To repeat, I do not have any issue whatsoever with married men participating in foot washing.

  41. GAK says:

    Here’s how I see it:

    1. Calm, logical, learned analysis of some of Pope Francis’ decisions: helpful.

    2. Whining, wringing of hands, silliness, and despair: ridiculous.

    If I get to the pearly gates, look St. Peter straight in the eye, and tell him :Pope Francis shook my faith, Pope Francis discouraged me, Pope Francis didn’t wear the mozetta so I stopped praying my rosary, Pope Francis washed a Muslim girl’s feet so I couldn’t receive the Eucharist anymore because my soul was just that disturbed by what Pope Francis did, Pope Francis made me do X, Pope Francis , Pope Francis, Pope Francis…. St. Peter is going to look at me like I have 3 heads and not an ounce of common sense, guts, or humility.

    This or that less than ideal decision Pope Francis may or may not make is not going to cut it as an excuse when we get to Heaven and have to answer for how we spend our time/attention/days/lives.

    Let’s keep that mind.

  42. Maria says:

    Something to think about on law, obedience, accountability & faith I think?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQmrW16mqhw

  43. dominic1955 says:

    RR-

    Think about it a little deeper. Liturgical tradition is not something to be messed with lightly, even if it goes through a more structured approach. Changing the times for the Triduum would have been “revolutionary” enough. I think that was a good move, but plenty of a change. When the whole liturgy was redone, on some pretty spurious historical grounds by the likes of Bugnini, it makes it look like you can just screw with it. Why not? It was only made up in 1951, ’55, or ’62, after all. Then when Pope John decides to cross out “perfidious”-why not? Throw someone else in the Canon? Sure. Redo the whole thing? Why not? Wash women’s feet at the Mandatum? Whatever, its all maleable to whatever perceived “need” is there.

    The 50s Holy Week thing might have been done through the “proper avenues” but the people with the same sort of outlook as the Protestants and Jansenists ended up doing the work on it.

  44. jhayes says:

    Dr. Peters’ blog post links to an earlier. Post that provides some useful information:

    He points out that Rome has already authorized some bishops to permit washing women’s feet. Since Francis has been washing women’s feet since at least 2005, to me it seems likely that he is one of those bishops who had permission to do it.

    “[I]t is common knowledge that permissions have been granted to individual bishops to permit women to have their feet washed. Under canon law, such variations do not constitute a change in universal norms nor do they provide others a precedent upon which to adopt practices contrary to law (see 1983 CIC 16 § 3). Still, such exceptions inevitably make people wonder why something like this is illicit in one diocese yet permissible in another. Moreover, Rome’s practice of granting such permissions privately makes it difficult to know the level of authority involved in making the exception and to refute rumors that others were granted”

    He also points out that the argument that the foot washing should be limited to adult men because it is symbolic of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles is not justified by any statement of the Church:

    “- no specific number of men is required for the rite, so the connection asserted between 12 men and the 12 Apostles is at best ambiguous;

    – indeed, there are no references to “apostles” in the mandatum rubrics or the circular letter, which instead explain the rite in terms of “Christ’s gesture of service and charity”, a ministry obviously not limited to apostles; and,

    – Christ’s explicit mandate at the Last Supper was “you also should do as I have done to you”, a command no one reads as restricting the recipients of ordained ministry to apostles or their successors.

    Thus, Fr. McNamara’s claim that the rite evokes “Christ’s gesture of service and charity to his apostles” and Mr. Akin’s statement that the rite “requires twelve males because they are representing the Twelve Apostles” are eisegetical. Ironically, both men might still have a point, but one would have to look beyond what Rome has actually said to find it. In the meantime, we are left wondering, just what is the value served by restricting the rite to adult men…?

    Bishops who are, quite correctly, upholding the law as it reads, know that this matter is purely one of ecclesiastical law (which means it is changeable, albeit only by Rome per 1983 CIC 838). They know that the reasons commonly offered in support of the law are either literally non-existent (as above) or are inconclusive. And they know that in some places this rubric is unnecessarily divisive. At a minimum, then it is hard to reconcile this liturgical restriction with the principle of fundamental equality of the faithful succinctly set forth in Canon 208 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.”

    http://www.canonlaw.info/a_footfight.htm

    I take Dr. Peters’ argument as being not that anything wrong has been done this past week, but that Rome’ existing system of giving private permission to individual bishops to permit women to be included in the foot washing ceremony should be handled in a way that doesn’t create the impression that bishops who include women are simply ignoring the rubrics.

  45. Katylamb says:

    Lepidus says:
    1 April 2013 at 11:04 am
    “I wonder what would happen if some tradition-minded OF priest decided that this year he was going to spend his vacation learning the EF (or over the course of a couple vacations). He comes back fully prepared to offer the EF…even had a bit of inheritence that he used to obtain the necessary vestments, etc. and even trained some altar boys. Only one problem – the “gotcha” clause in Summorum Pontificum that you need a “stable” group to request it. Oh well…liturgical laws, who cares?”

    Doesn’t the priest have to answer to his bishop? Who does the Pope answer to besides God?

  46. Giuseppe says:

    Re. tone deaf chanting – one can fairly easily learn how to do the basic minimum items in a near monotone speak/sing chant. Also a good arument for chanting in Latin, as it has fewer syllables than its translations, thus fewer notes to chant!

  47. mamajen says:

    @jhayes

    I think that line of thinking (as much as I really respect and like what Dr. Peters has to say), further demonstrates why we should think of the foot-washing as more of a re-enactment of Jesus’ actions (hence the adult male requirement) and not an interpretation of what he did. Changes to the law in this case may seem harmless and even good, but people are using the same kind of logic to justify other things, like women in the priesthood. It’s a slippery slope.

  48. BLB Oregon says:

    –“I cannot be miffed at Pope Francis-his predecessors have been screwing around with the liturgy for th past 50-60 years. Pope Pius XII, whom even crazy sedevacantists consider legit, put a chink in the armor by allowing Holy Week to get screwed around with. Going back farther than that, Pope Urban VIII allowed some egghead classicists to rewrite the ancient hymns of the breviary in their faux-Ciceronian Latin. Granted, the worst offenses have happened since Vatican II, but the previous things laid the groundwork. “–

    If anybody _ever_ finds himself or herself wishing someone else had been elected Pope, let us think about the reports about Cardinal Ravasi, who (let us remember) was also considered papabile:
    –He says half his friends are non-believers, and when asked if he wanted to convert them, he replied “Absolutely not.”–

    As much as some might have wanted to re-elect Benedict XVI, that was not possible. If you ever find yourself wishing a different cardinal had been elected Pope, you might want to go read up on who the top five candidates were. Many holy men, I am sure, but there was not a Joseph Ratzinger among them! Our dear Pope Benedict had been trying to get Pope John Paul II to allow him to retire before he was ever elected Pope himself, because he felt his strength failing, even then. We ought to be very thankful that we had him as long as we did! Where would we be, if he had not been there at the Vatican these last 30 or 35 years?

    Also, when you pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, do not forget to pray that the Holy Spirit will be active in bringing up holy and gifted men to be the princes of the Church, as well, and that they will be preserved from all the temptations with the evil one desires to torment and distract them. How much good is done by wise and holy bishops, and how much damage can be done by a misguided one!! How difficult is it to be always faithful when given such a heavy office! These men need our constant prayers, they really do.

  49. mike cliffson says:

    Up crops St peter vs St Paul!Again!
    Don’t think they saw it like that themselves.

  50. Lepidus says:

    Katylamb – Not really the point. If everybody would just say “It’s the Pope’s Mass, so it might be different than the rest of the world”, that would be fine. However, as many of the other posters pointed out, some priests are already on the bandwagon of “The Pope did thus and so, and therefore we can also ignore things for our own similar reasons”. I was just pointing out that I bet any money that there wouldn’t be so much acceptance if the rules being bent were in favor of a more traditional slant rather than the other way around. As far your comment about the priests answering to the bishops, I bet I could count on one hand the number of major dioceses in the US, where the bishops actually care about the liturgical laws…and that count would not even include one of those previously seen as a contender for the papacy.

  51. Cantor says:

    If we all agree with the concept that viri is strictly and only men, then the whole miracle of the loaves and fishes seems to be cruel hoax.

    The vulgate specifically states: “…erant autem qui manducaverunt quinque milia virorum.” or “…there were therefore five thousand men who had eaten.” No pueri, no puellae, no feminae at all.

  52. jbpolhamus says:

    Well…wrong-footing the critics and keeping the Media in a spin is certainly something that tactical chaos can be used to achieve…hopefully with some ecclesial success. I wouldn’t recommend it, but then I wouldn’t have recommended Picket’s Charge, either. Wait…

  53. Daniel says:

    David Andrews wrote:
    ““The rubrics, by way of exception, allow for the local Ordinary to permit another Mass in churches and oratories to be celebrated in the evening…”

    I’d think that a prison chapel would likely have the status of an oratory if Mass is regularly celebrated there.

  54. BLB Oregon says:

    —If we all agree with the concept that viri is strictly and only men, then the whole miracle of the loaves and fishes seems to be cruel hoax.

    The vulgate specifically states: “…erant autem qui manducaverunt quinque milia virorum.” or “…there were therefore five thousand men who had eaten.” No pueri, no puellae, no feminae at all.—

    I don’t get why it would be a cruel hoax to a) count a large crowd by counting the men only instead of counting everybody (which wouldn’t have been unusual at the time) or b) if Our Lord had happened to work a miracle somewhere so far from civilization that no women or children had been taken there. What, if he feeds or chooses men only, there is something cruel about that? If that were true, wouldn’t all particular choices automatically become cruel choices?

    Besides, you must agree that counting to 5,000 and counting to 12 are two quite different exercises. One can count twelve people, record their identities, know that there are only males among them. What is cruel about that? You may as well say that the Olympics are cruel precisely because only the most gifted athletes can compete there, or because some slots are reserved for women only, rather than having all the slots open to whoever is the most physically able. Isn’t it cruel that a man can’t win an Olympic gold medal on the uneven parallel bars, or that a woman can’t win a gold medal on the rings?

    Furthermore, it is also not as if canon law is some ancient text, so that we might have some reasonable doubt about whether the authors used a word that could be taken to mean either “men” or “people”. Those who wrote it have been perfectly able to tell anyone who asked that yes, they chose that word carefully, and no, they did not mean to include the faithful generally, but only men. Not cruel, not a hoax, but they wrote what they meant to write.

  55. Lepidus says:

    Cantor – Doesn’t one of the other version of the multiplication of loaves add the phrase “not counting women & children”?

  56. RR says:

    “Think about it a little deeper. Liturgical tradition is not something to be messed with lightly, even if it goes through a more structured approach. Changing the times for the Triduum would have been “revolutionary” enough. I think that was a good move, but plenty of a change. When the whole liturgy was redone, on some pretty spurious historical grounds by the likes of Bugnini, it makes it look like you can just screw with it. Why not? It was only made up in 1951, ’55, or ’62, after all. Then when Pope John decides to cross out “perfidious”-why not? Throw someone else in the Canon? Sure. Redo the whole thing? Why not? Wash women’s feet at the Mandatum? Whatever, its all maleable to whatever perceived “need” is there.

    The 50s Holy Week thing might have been done through the “proper avenues” but the people with the same sort of outlook as the Protestants and Jansenists ended up doing the work on it.”

    Revision of Holy Week in the 1950s being Protestant? I am not sure I can go with that.

    Let’s not forget, Pope Pius V made very major revisions to the Mass texts and forms. I suppose one can come up with a reason why this revision was “holy” (given its importance to the current traditionalist movement) whereas, say, Pope Pius XII’s liturgical revisions were “Jansenist,” but I suspect it would be pretty contrived.

    There is a major difference between following established rubrics and setting an example for how to revise things and just going off into liturgical improvisation, though. Institutionalizing liturgical improvisation in the long run will undoubtedly lead to Anglican-style splintering.

  57. acardnal says:

    mamajen wrote, “I think that line of thinking (as much as I really respect and like what Dr. Peters has to say), further demonstrates why we should think of the foot-washing as more of a re-enactment of Jesus’ actions (hence the adult male requirement) and not an interpretation of what he did. Changes to the law in this case may seem harmless and even good, but people are using the same kind of logic to justify other things, like women in the priesthood. It’s a slippery slope.”

    I agree.

    If a priest, bishop or Pope wants to wash the feet of women to show his solidarity with the poor and marginalized, he should do so outside of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper.

  58. Allan S. says:

    First, let us openly acknowledge the big win this is for enemies of tradition. never before could they argue with gravitas the notion that their feelings and sentiment trump rules, discipline and authority. Now they can. They absolutely can. However, I gather the inability to reason has robbed our elated liberal brethren from the capacity to understand that the destruction of rules, obedience and authority cuts both ways.

    Regardless of what the future holds for Mass translations, SP, UE or anything else near and dear to traditionalists, we also can now dismissively set aside anything we don’t like with a casual cut and paste job, viz: “Our Parish’s decision to stop offering the Novus Ordo Missae was a gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy towards traditionally minded faithful, rather than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.” We can also now cite, helpfully, a lack of liturgical “experts” in the pews as a secondary rationale.

    These people…just don’t think things through, do they? Like, EVER!

  59. JimGB says:

    The Chrism Mass, the Easter Vigil and the Mass of Easter Day celebrated by Pope Francis were reverent and the homilies had some truly beautiful passages. (Although as a side note it seems that the Pope appears not to like liturgical celebrations lasting more than about 2 hours and is intent on wearing the mitre and chasuble he wore at his inaugural Mass for every solemn celebration of his papacy.) Nevertheless, I think that his actions to date in terms of jettisoning customs and traditions and acting contrary to church law in the Mandatum ceremony in the prison sow the seeds of some potential unhappy consequences in the months and years ahead by sowing discord and confusion in the Church. Let’s face it, most of the press has been focused on how he is peeling away one tradition after another, and the media and their “low information” consumers will focus much more on what the Pope does than what the Pope says in an elegant homily. Francis is cultivating this by sublimating the traditions of the Papacy to his own peculiar tastes and style. The mozzettas and the red shoes, not matter what they symbolize, are not as important to Francis as the tone and style he wishes to set.

  60. Cantor says:

    Lepidus –

    Absolutely. That would be Matthew 14.

    John 6 and Mark 6 stick to the 5,000 men being fed, with no mention of women and children. Luke 9 says there were 5,000 men, but doesn’t limit the feeding to men. And this is precisely the difficulty of people arguing legalistically. Were three of them careless historians? Was one assuming the number was meant to be broader than ‘viri’? Should we, then, read “viri” as exclusively “men” or should it be interpreted, in light of Gospel precedent, as implying “men, women, an children”? Could the writers of the law (and Gospel!) have better specified? Indeed. Did they assume what they wrote would be interpreted broadly, perhaps.

    But for people to be going berserk today because the Bishop of Rome has chosen to interpret the word “viri” exactly as did St. John and St. Mark before him is just plain wrong.

  61. The Masked Chicken says:

    “- indeed, there are no references to “apostles” in the mandatum rubrics or the circular letter, which instead explain the rite in terms of “Christ’s gesture of service and charity”, a ministry obviously not limited to apostles; and,

    – Christ’s explicit mandate at the Last Supper was “you also should do as I have done to you”, a command no one reads as restricting the recipients of ordained ministry to apostles or their successors.”

    I can’t let this go unresponded. There are no references to the apostles in the Mandatum rubrics for the very simple reason – there are no more of, “those,” apostles to which to refer. There were only twelve. One cannot wash the feet of modern-day apostles because, well, there aren’t any, except by extension, bishops, but Christ is not here to wash the feet of bishops (since he is the one in authority above them), so it is impossible to duplicate the Christ – apostle dynamic.

    Clearly, this washing is done during the ceremony of the Passover. Answer this: why did Christ not do this foot washing at some other meal, like, say, in front of the five thousand? Wouldn’t that have been a more generalized appeal to service? Why did He wait until the Passover meal? You misunderstand whose charity and service Christ was referring to if you fail to put the scene into context. I tried to explain this a few days, ago. There are many layers going on, here, and, there are simply put, certain ways that clergy can serve that the laity cannot. Christ is coming to them with His body; bishops are to go to the people with His body. A layman can wash the dirt away from your feet; a priest can wash away the sins from your soul. Each has its own place. Washing has many layers in this story.

    The phrase, “You should do as I have done to you,” simply has to be understood, properly. Yes, it refers to service and, yes, it can be applied to the priesthood of all believers, but look at the whole passage [Jhn 13:12 – 20]

    “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?

    You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.

    If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

    For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

    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.

    If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

    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.’

    I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

    Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”

    That is the whole context.

    The hypodeigma, the underlying sign given (the word, example, does not really express the forcefulness in Greek very well), is that which, “you also should do as I have done to you.”

    This harkens forward, in phraseology, to Jesus saying [Jhn 15:12 – 17]

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
    Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
    You are my friends if you do what I command you.
    No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
    This I command you, to love one another.”

    In the foot washing passage, Jesus immediately says that a servant is not above his master, implying that if the Master washes feet, so should the servants, but, then, he says something odd. He talks about sending and being sent (what does that have to do with anything?) and then He says, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

    He seemed to be talking in the singular, now the plural in John 13:17. He did not say, “If you know this thing – no servant is above his master; wash each other’s feet, etc. He said, “these things,” and, “do them.” What things are you to know? What things are you to do? Simply service? That is not some things you could know or a, “them” to do. What does he mean?

    To confound, He goes on to say, “I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen.

    An understanding can be found in a John 15. He says that he will lay down his life for his friends and, then he says that his friends are those who do what he commands them to do. This harkens back to when Jesus said (John 14:15), “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

    This is what Jesus means by, “known them,” and, “do them,” in John 13. He is not referring to washing feet, exactly and only, but, rather, keeping his commandments – plural, the whole of the moral law, love of God and neighbor.

    While he is, obliquely, addressing this to all of his disciples (those he will send), he says, when next he speaks of servants:

    “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide;

    So, are they to be merely servants as in John 13? No, for they keep his commandments out of love and are friends. In other words, yes, they serve, but they they do not do so in a master-servant relationship, but as a friend loving another friend.

    This is for all believers, but Jesus is very clear that this Passover meal and everything connected to it is directly related to the priesthood, but at two levels. Everyone is called to priesthood in baptism and to share in the Divine friendship as they keep the Commandments, Counsels, and Precepts of Christ, but there are only twelve men of who he could refer as being, “appointed,”. It is clear, that a more specific priesthood and a more specific type of service is being referred to in this Discourse.

    Thus, to fully understand the foot washing, one must place it within the totality of Jesus’s Farewell Discourse and it becomes clear why He could not do this foot washing after the five thousand had gone home. Jesus had to situate this foot washing at the Passover not merely to indicate service (which he could have done, elsewhere), but, specifically to relate the Passover washing to that of the priestly washing, done in the Temple. It was to indicate the washing of priests, both laity in baptism and priests in ordination, but he could only indicate the priestly washing in this sign and have it be unmistakable. So, one could say that this foot washing, in its proper sense, is an underlying sign of the love that will convert servant into friend and unite Savior and saved, but each person in their proper way and at their proper station, Christ, Clergy, laity.

    If this sign is seen only as service and disconnected from the larger context of the Commandments of Christ, then it becomes nothing more than an act of social work. You can let women be washed on Holy Thursday and that refers to disciples, but only by washing only men can you, in addition, give the added sign of priest – and it is only men, within the priesthood, who can do the washing away of sin.

    I realize that women will, probably, gain explicit permission for foot washing at some later time, but, in my opinion, it diminishes the totality of what Christ wished to signify by the act.

    The Chicken

    [P. S. I am sorry for the length of this. This is a complicated issue that many people throw away in a sentence or two. It deserves a more comprehensive study, which I am convinced few people commenting on blogs have done. So, I guess my two long comments on this subject go together.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  62. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The vulgate specifically states: “…erant autem qui manducaverunt quinque milia virorum.” or “…there were therefore five thousand men who had eaten.” No pueri, no puellae, no feminae at all.”

    You are committing the fallacy of reification. In the Old Tetament, the man stood as representative of the whole household.

    The Chicken

  63. PA mom says:

    Dear Masked Chicken, can you explain to me why this is done at the parish level? Since there is often only one priest and very few actively participating young men, isn’t this almost more of a set up, than a good idea? Does this bear good fruit anywhere, or just argument and misunderstanding?

  64. progressive says:

    Dear The Masked Chicken
    I think the jury is out whether or not the Jesus was celebrating the Passover meal.

  65. netokor says:

    Chantgirl, you nailed it: ‘”The sentimentality vs. reason debate can be seen in the push to redefine marriage, the abortion debate, the welfare state debate. How do we reason with a culture that does not know how to think?” Sometimes being ridiculed as the nasty, heartless bully can get to one–I’ve been called sexist, a homophobe, a religious zealot. And the media has brainwashed society for decades to make sure that we are ostracized. The world hated Him first.

  66. catholicmidwest says:

    If, as it seems, the majority of English-speaking 1st-world Catholics can’t be bothered enough to go to the Bible and look up what really happened and the context in which it happened, then those people ought not to use the option. Maybe it’s causing more trouble than it’s worth for those audiences.

  67. rcg says:

    Why did he go there to wash anyone’s feet? Are they there as disciples or apostles? Why not was the feet of some of the priests who tend to these young people then offer to hear the confessions of these poor children?

  68. Hank Igitur says:

    I have even heard of members of the congregation being told to come prepared with water and towel and to wash each other’s feet in the pews on Maundy Thursday.

    The mandatum is a modern and entirely optional thing. Either do it by the book or else don’t do it at all. It should not be a source for controversy, argument, scandal, anxiety, entertainment or a vehicle for agendas such as women’s ordination.

    After this year’s event in the detention center with the TV cameras present another arrow has been added to the quiver of those would call for abrogation of the 1955 Bugnini-orchestrated changes to Holy week under Pope Pius XII and reinstatement of the earlier rites.

  69. Lucas Whittaker says:

    There is an order to love. There are many ways to explicate the order of love. One primary example might be that love is always “for another”. Love is not arbitrary but rather organized along a logical pattern that moves away from the personal ego.

    What is the most difficult aspect of love for the common man? … possibly that love is ordered.

    What is wrong with a priest (a public figure) who deviates from liturgical law in the name of love? … he actually blurs the lines [order] of love for those who tend to be confused about the difference between love and hate.

    Why is it a “big deal” that the Holy Father deviated from liturgical norms? … because he represents the universal Church and also because our actions tend to speak “louder” than words: People tend to see us as less than authentic if we say one thing and do another. This is “bad” for every Catholic who is called to share the faith with his neighbor: it becomes more difficult to explain the Beautiful.

    Regarding the reform of the clergy …
    What is the primary role of a priest? … to make the sacraments available for the people of God.

    What denotes a “good” priest? … a good priest is a man who performs the sacraments according to the prescripts of the Church, which hands them on to us through her Tradition.

    Why is it a “big deal” that the Holy Father deviated from liturgical norms? … because the best way to reform the clergy is to lead by example. If you lead in any other way—especially in the name of false compassion—you then run the risk of blurring the lines of love for the very men on whom the faithful rely to communicates God’s own love to them: his priests. Love has an order. And in the case of the Holy Thursday liturgy a part of that order of love is to follow the liturgical laws as they are written.

    I suspect, as is the case for me, that many people will find it difficult to take the Holy Father at his word—no matter how beautiful or true they are—until he corrects his liturgical mistakes: these liturgical mistakes aren’t merely legalistic—not at all. Instead they misrepresent love and set a less than model example for the good men who have given their lives to the service of God’s people through holy orders.

    I am impressed in so many ways by Papa Francis, but I believe that in the interest of true charity he should find a way to reconcile the Holy Thursday liturgical deviance. I was wrong to believe initially that patience alone would somehow improve this matter. This is a big deal because it flies in the face of everything that is beautiful in the Church. The Church exists as a sacrament of Christ’s abiding love. She provides the sacraments to us as a sign of the movement of God’s grace in our lives. It seems logical that those sacraments should be performed well so that the love of God can be represented in the best way. We [the faithful] go to the Church to receive the sacraments, and as such we should listen when we are receiving those graces because it is God who is communicating. It is no time for us to insert our own designs into the sacraments because that would defy the order of love by putting self first in which case it would no longer be love.

  70. Johnno says:

    mamajen –

    Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Specifically His Apostles.

    What were His apostles? His first selected priests.

    In washing the feet of men, the renactment is specifically that of Jesus washing His apostles feet, followed directly by the institution of the Eucharist to whcih the priesthood is intimately tied.

    We specifically have men in there. Because it is a direct reenactment of it. Just as for the same reason and many others, we have male priests in place of Christ.

    Don’t imagine that just because the rules omit the greater detailed explanation, that we can freely change them and not risk diminishing the very event they are re-enacting and all that comes with it.

    Yes, Christ did say and set example that oftena time we ought to look past the letter of the law to do something intrumental. When David and his men ate the consecrated bread forbidden to everyone but the priests, those were under very exceptional situations. David and his men were in hiding being hunted down. The high priest allowed them ON HIS AUTHORITY to eat the bread, providing they were clean, abstaining from sexual relations. Since he and his men were observing a wartime discipline and indeed were following rules abstaining from sex as faithful soldiers in Holy War. They were allowed to eat the bread. But eating the sacred bread didn’t become a regular norm that everyone could do willy nilly of their own accord for BS reasons.

    The Pope is allowed to break such liturgical,conditions, and to an extent so are priests or anyone of authority or who finds themselves faced with extraordinary circumstances as wise discernment permits. But they are to be clear and explicit on the conditions they are breaking and for good reason that could not be avoided to gone about another way. And are not by themselves licence to abrogate the rules simply by being exceptions.

    Regardless of why the mandatum was inserted. The event it reenacts ought to be done so faithfully, and even reasonably explained and reinforced. What it reenacts is of great value into which we draw much richness that are pearls of insight and wisdom that nobody, not even the Pope ought to just cast before swine based on mere impulse and sentimentality. Pope Francis could’ve chosen hundreds of ways to teach the same lesson. He could’ve done so outside of the context of Holy Thursday Mass. He could’ve gone to the prison of his own accord and preached to them and then personally washed the feet of every prisoner if he so wished and more without any requirement for a Mass. He could’ve also begun it within the Holy Thursday Mass by making clear the reasons for why Christ washed the feet of the disciples (reinforcing Tradition and upholding Church law), and why he was making an exception by his own power under these exceptional conditions in order to reach out to them and all who witness it (teaching charity without confusing tradition and canon law in the process). There are many ways to go about this that make everyone happy. These were not taken. Pope Francis should’ve exercised more prudence and foresight. Hopefully he will get better at this as time goes by.

  71. Cantor says:

    Masked Chicken –

    Reification is the process of defining an abstract idea as something absolute. Saying “viri” translates only as “men” is reification only if “viri” is actually more general, perhaps as in the contemporary use of the term “guys” which works for either gender. On this blog, however, we’ve been repeatedly told that “viri” is “men” and nothing else; ergo, “viri” is not an abstract. I happen to disagree, and believe, as you mentioned, that “viri” is used to include family groups including women and children.

    Similarly, there are three terms used somewhat interchangeably in the Gospels: the apostles, the Twelve, and the disciples. “Disciples” seems more generalized to include Christ’s followers beyond the Twelve. Christ celebrated His last supper with his disciples, quite possibly with his mother, the wives and families of followers, etc. Passover is, after all, a family celebration. When He washed feet, but we know only of Peter. Tradition has us believe it was the Telve, but it very well might have included others. Just like He probably fed more then the men with the loaves and fishes!

  72. dominic1955 says:

    RR-

    Bugnini, the neo-Gallicans/Pistoian Jansenists/Josephists/Aufklarung revolutionaries and the Protestants had the same basic outlook on liturgy-it was in some (imaginary) “pure” state in the Early Church. The Medieval times happened and mucked it all up, along with theology and ecclesiology. Their programs and end goals might have been different, but they all tried to use liturgy as a vehicle to foist their errors or screwing ideologies on the Church.

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/02/fiuv-position-paper-14-1955-holy-week.html
    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2010/07/reform-of-holy-week-in-years-1951-1956.html

    The Roman Liturgy as we’ve known it post-Trent was a codified version of the Rite of the Roman Curia, which in turn was a simplified version of the liturgy as it was celebrated by extra Curial prelates and priests. There are profound differences between the original 1570 rite and the 1962 rite, let alone some of the in between books. Substantially, they are the same rite though. When you throw the NO in there, I think Laszlo Dobsay was spot on when he referred to the NO as the “Neo-Roman Rite”.

  73. dominic1955 says:

    *screwy

  74. lana says:

    @Blog Goliard
    BG: I completely understand the reaction we’ve seen from many, along the lines of: “back off man, we’re trying to reform the Church and follow the Gospel here, these picky little rules are in the way and don’t matter and surely no disaster will result from ignoring or changing them”…so long as it’s coming from people who are just now waking up from a 50-year coma.

    Thanks, I got a chuckle out of that one. Now, how about those of us who didn’t wake up until 20 years ago or less? I haven’t seen much by way of liturgical abuses at all. A very few older priests (2 or 3) and that’s it. My current priest and the 20 or so I have known in the past few years are very orthodox and not at all chomping at the bit to ‘wing it’.

    BG: As with every one of his predecessors, Pope Francis has been placed in a thoroughly impossible position, and burdened with an inexhaustible supply of unmanageable tasks. Unless, of course, he is sustained by a constant, tremendous outpouring of God’s grace and love.
    Our Holy Father desperately needs our prayers. I wasn’t sufficiently mindful of this with Benedict, not until the very end…which was probably true of a lot of us. Shan’t make that mistake again.

    Amen!

  75. mamajen says:

    @Johnno

    “Don’t imagine that just because the rules omit the greater detailed explanation, that we can freely change them and not risk diminishing the very event they are re-enacting and all that comes with it.”

    This is exactly what I was saying, or trying to anyway. I don’t think there needs to be a greater explanation beyond “we do it this way because Jesus did it this way.” If someone can provide a good explanation as to why ineligible men should be representing priests in the foot-washing, then maybe I will be more receptive to that particular meaning attached to the practice. As it is now, though, it doesn’t make much sense to me to run with that idea.

  76. Kathleen10 says:

    I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. It is often astounding to me how much most of you know about how the Church operates. Matters of rites, rubrics, history, how you all know as much as you know, is something I don’t know! I know you aren’t all clergy, so, it’s pretty amazing to me.
    As just your ordinary person in the pew, here’s how it looks from where I sit.
    The Vatican is the authority. The world, is in a constant battle now, with that authority. The complaining, the whining, the lamenting, the newsprint, talking heads, all seem to despise the Vatican, while at the same time they seem to clamor for it’s approval. They don’t leave it alone, disregard it, they pursue it! They want it. They want to possess it, change it’s “rules” and “regulations”, most definitely to force it to conform to what is wanted, a church with women priests, no silly contraception talk, inclusion of same-sex marriage, all of it. We all know all of that.
    When a new Holy Father takes the reins, and ignores rubrics and tradition, or whatever category things like wearing mozzetta’s and what Catholics have come to expect from our Holy Father, it can only cause confusion and consternation, as it has. The washing of the feet, is a “step up” in rule breaking. That the rule was not any other kind than to include women, cannot be accidental. No one is that naive, since including women as clergy is part of the whole problem the secular world has with the Vatican in general. So that this is what was chosen to disregard is just too convenient to be accidental, and I have already left the camp of those who think Pope Francis is not yet adjusted to his office or is that naive.
    I know nothing about Jesuits except they are usually intelligent and educated. Pope Francis cannot be naive about his office.
    The concerns so many Catholics have must be known to him by now. He’s in the Vatican, not a bubble. The media is blabbing about it, so he must in all likelihood know. I can’t read between the lines of what Pope Francis is saying. If he intends us to know something, I hope he just says it outright and plainly. Silence can say as much as words do, so either way, it will be understood. I think he means what he says and doesn’t mean what he doesn’t say.

    Poverty is more than people who have no money, as we all know. But materially poor seems to be the primary focus. I feel a bit like the unpopular kid at the school dance.
    Again, I keep coming back to the Cardinals, the ones who elected Pope Francis. This must be what a majority wanted. If they didn’t know, he wouldn’t have been elected. What do Popes get elected “on”? What criteria supports an election? So the majority of them knew, and chose. Okaay then.
    To me, the run of the mill Catholic, this is alarming. Even I can see that there are priests, religious, media, professors, and lots more who are going to take what Pope Francis is doing and run with it. The Catholic League reported today that the secular media is tripping over itself now to get clergy on their programs, and the questioning is taking a similar track, female priests, same-sex marriage, and so on. The culture ‘smells’ change, and if that change looks like disregard for tradition and rubrics, they are going to be on it like the duck on a June bug, and, they are!

    Not long ago when President Obama declared that he had a talk with his 12 year old and “this changed his mind on same-sex marriage” (yeah right) I didn’t think this would make such a difference to most people. Boy how wrong I was. These things, large and small, are magnified greatly once they leave the office that originates them. They are extrapolated out, and interpreted by other people, and magnified and manipulated by those who use them to the ends for which they wish. These are not small matters. Their may BE no small matters from the Vatican anymore, if there ever were. Millions are riveted to the Vatican right now and appear to sense something…different.
    We are waiting, and the liberals are waiting. All waiting and watching to see where it goes from here. Somebody’s going to be miserable. Honestly I hope it’s not us.

  77. Stu says:

    I’m happy to see this point continues to be stressed. As of yet, I have not seen those who continue to characterize the Pope’s actions on Holy Thursday as “no big deal” address this very point. Instead, their focus remains on the most extreme elements, a minority, who have chosen to go very negative on the Pope.

    In doing so, I am amused by some of their comments that are along the lines of, “I don’t know why you idiot, pharisee Rad Trads can’t get over you hyperfixation on the law to see that the Pope was trying to teach you about charity.” ;)

    Professor Peters (and our host) have hit on the essence of this issue. I applaud the commentary and manner of delivery as well.

  78. mammamia says:

    Kathleen10, THANK YOU. thank you, thank you, thank you. I only have an iPhone & your every word portrays exactly what I am thinking. I am guessing women like you and I constitute the majority that consider themselves “regular” and as stupid as sounds to even have to say, “in full agreement” with teachings of the Church. As such, I hope Pope Francis is taking into account he is giving pause to those that are the neck of most families. Sometimes a foot-washing is just a foot-washing, but our female instincts tell us otherwise in this case. Your last paragraph is perfect:
    “We are waiting, and the liberals are waiting. All waiting and watching to see where it goes from here. Somebody’s going to be miserable. Honestly I hope it’s not us.”

    I pray it is not us/our children and grandchildren.

  79. JMody says:

    I got to listen to a sanctimonious lawyer and his sanctimonious-lawyer-friend-turned-priest talk about how great it is to wash women’s feet, and finally the Pope is gonna show these closed-minded uptight reactionaries to just get over it, and it’s not even in canon law, and the USCCB told everyone YEARS ago that it was okay …

    … enough to make me want to hurl my Easter ham all over him.

  80. Peter Rother says:

    Mamajen,
    You are aware that some of the Apostles were possibly married; that St. Peter was very likely married; and that the New Testament specifically requires Bishops to only have one wife. The washing of married men’s feet is of a different order altogether than the washing of women’s feet on Holy Thursday during the Mass.

  81. JacobWall says:

    Thank you, Dr. Peters, and Fr. Z., for sharing this in a place where I would find it and be able to thank Dr. Peters.

  82. robtbrown says:

    Kathleen10 says:
    I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. It is often astounding to me how much most of you know about how the Church operates. Matters of rites, rubrics, history, how you all know as much as you know, is something I don’t know! I know you aren’t all clergy, so, it’s pretty amazing to me.
    As just your ordinary person in the pew, here’s how it looks from where I sit.
    The Vatican is the authority. The world, is in a constant battle now, with that authority.

    I generally agree, with one small exception. The Vatican is not the authority. Rather, it represents the authority, which is Scripture and Tradition.

  83. robtbrown says:

    RR says,

    Let’s not forget, Pope Pius V made very major revisions to the Mass texts and forms.

    Not really. Mostly, he just imposed the Roman Rite on the Latin Church, with a few exceptions, e.g., Dominican Rite.

  84. robtbrown says:

    NB:
    1. The significance of the foot washing is a function of the pressure to ordain women. If that weren’t the case, it wouldn’t be so important.

    2. The pope is a Jesuit, and Jesuit life is ordered toward Mission. They have a habit of concealing their loyalties. Jesuits are/were highly trained priests who wore the cassock of a diocesan priest. And Jesuit Missionaries sometimes adopted the local attire (Matteo Ricci) or local customs.

    3. My hope is that the pope attempts to reform the Society of Jesus.

    Basta. I’m leaving Amboise today for London.

  85. The Masked Chicken says:

    One last thing on this topic.

    It occurred to me, last night, that it could only have been the feet of the Twelve that were washed and not others, even though there may have (doubtful) been others present. Follow…

    This was the Passover meal, which, in its liturgical aspects is most properly celebrated in the Temple with the priest after the lamb is slaughtered. In the home, the celebration recalls the home-bound Israelites, who were waiting for the Destroying Angel.

    Now, if this were your traditional Passover in the home, everyone present would wash their hands, so, it is presumed that, since water were available, those present would have washed their hands (yes, I know that, sometimes, Jesus’s disciples did not wash their hands before common meals, but we are assuming, ex hypothesi, that there were others present).

    The question is, is this your normal Passover meal in the home? The answer is, no. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is about to be sacrificed. This will call forth the consecration at the Mass, after his death. Jesus is a type for the Temple, soon to be destroyed. This will call forth the Church, the type of the New Jerusalem.

    Well, if you have a lamb and you have a Temple, then you have a Temple sacrifice, so where are the priests? Everyone washes their hands at the Passover meal, but only the priests wash their feet. If you want to now who the priests are, look at whose feet get washed. The word used during the washing, is, “disciple,” mathetes, in Greek. This is a generic term for pupil or learner who follows a teaching. John uses the term 62 times to refer to one of three groups: 1) the followers of John, the Baptist, 2) those who follow Christ’s teachings, 3) more specifically, the Twelve apsotles.

    It is not always easy to sort out which group is being referred to, but, unless there were many people present at the foot washing and Jesus wished to specify the he intended to send only some of them on a mission – something he never does, then when he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me,” right after the washing of the feet, we must assume that he is addressing everyone present. Now, that sentence is nothing other than a code word for the Apostles. The word, apostolos, means, “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” Thus, it seems clear, from the weight of the evidence, that only the Twelve were present at the Passover meal when the feet were washed and the feet were washed, specifically, as a sign if the priesthood.

    As I mentioned, earlier, there are layers to the context and these can also refer to the priesthood of believers, so, foot washing is a sign for all, but there are strong senses of signs and weak senses of signs and the strong sense of the sign of foot washing in this context is for the priesthood. A weaker sign is for service.

    I hope this analysis clarifies the matter. Both sides make an appeal to the context and both sides are right. It depends on the focus. Since foot washing is done within the context of a Mass, it would seem that the strong sign is the better referent, with the weaker sign bring brought forth according to exceptional circumstances, such as teaching. It is okay if Pope Francis wants to wash the feet of girls or Moslems as a teaching moment, referring to something mostly outside of the Mass. He is the supreme teacher within the Church. Regular priests do not have this standing and should never do this on their own, except with authorization by the teaching authority of the bishop and, then, only with suitable instructions to the laity about the exceptional nature of the circumstances – using the washing as a sign of service for the purposes of teaching, momentarily detaching it from its stronger sign of the priesthood.

    My opinion.

    The Chicken

  86. midwestmom says:

    Can someone clarify…Did this washing of the feet take place in the context of the Mass?

  87. mamajen says:

    Thank you, Chicken–you’ve done a lot to explain how the foot washing is associated with the priesthood. It seems to me the best context for imitating the foot washing (within mass, that is) would be the Ordination Rite. I’ve read that some bishops do it, but it’s not all that common. I think it’s more difficult to communicate the meaning you’ve explained when lay men (especially those who cannot become priests) are involved. But certainly “adult men” are a closer match than any other people who might participate.

  88. OrthodoxChick says:

    Did anyone else happen to catch “The World Over” on EWTN lasst night? They ran a translated interview with (then) Cardinal Bergoglio from 6 months before he was elected Pope. Maybe it’s just me, but the man speaking in this interview doesn’t even sound like the same man in the homilies of Pope Francis. I’m wondering if he’s actually writing his own homilies yet? Maybe someone close to him or in papal service who is a little more liberal leaning is drafting the homilies in the beginning until Pope Francis settles into a schedule? I don’t know. I could be completely wrong. It still doesn’t explain the low Masses and foot washing, but to me, the difference is striking.

    Cardinal Bergoglio sounds almost Ratzingerian in this interview.

    Link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7A0PyKITdw

  89. murtheol says:

    The boorish Dr. Peters has struck again. What was the outcome, Ed, of that deacons-having -sex-with-their-wives thing?

    [Boorish? I’ll tell you what’s boorish. Coming into my living room and calling Peters a name because you don’t like his arguments. That’s boorish.]

  90. PA mom says:

    Peter Rother-exactly what mama Jen and I are agreeing on (correct me if I am wrong, mamajen) is that because married men are NOT currently eligible for ordination to the priesthood, including them in the rite does create unnecessary, genuine confusion.
    It makes it appear far more like “men vs women” and not enough like current and future priests.
    This is from a purely laity view, but, it is not a minor point.

  91. mamajen says:

    @PA mom

    Exactly! Glad someone understands what I was trying to say :)

  92. mamajen says:

    @Peter Rother

    Sorry I missed your comment until now. Yes, I’m fully aware of our Church’s history regarding married priests. And I do believe that the fact that there is precedent for married priests but not female priests makes a difference. There are disingenuous people who will ignore that and protest anyway, and we’ve seen how protests can get the Vatican to make exceptions to this law. I think we need to be careful that we explain things as simply and clearly as possible so as not to provide openings for people to question the requirements.

    I think the law as it exists is fine. Where we fail is explaining it. If we want to tie it into the priesthood we must make sure it’s clear that we’re reenacting the creation of the first priests (some of them married), not priesthood as it exists now. Unfortunately I’ve seen too many people saying, essentially, “Males can be priests, females cannot. Hence, females cannot have feet washed. The end.”

  93. Johnno says:

    mamajen –

    The argument is specifically that it is a re-enactment, and thus a re-enactment should be as close to the historical account as possible. So whether the men are married or single is irrelevent. They are actors in place of the Apostles, for whom the Priest is there in place of Christ.

    Ideally it would be wonderful if the men whose feet were being washed were single men in the seminary or those discerning the priesthood. If you lack those, then you could opt to replace them with married men or single men with no intentions of the priesthood. And if we were to revise the rubrics for extraordinary conditions, if there are no men around in an extreme given setting, then arguably women can substitute in place of men. And in other cases, if lack of adults, then even children, preferably young boys. But as it stands, men are widely available, though those discerning the priesthood are obviously in short supply. I believe that rubrics that explicitly state ‘men’ generally take into account that it would be next to impossible for those roles to actually be filled by young men discerning the priesthood or actual seminarians, therefore any other man would do. Though hopefully it doesn’t get so bad that we need to pick someone like Joe Biden, but maybe we could give him Judas’ spot.

  94. PA mom says:

    Johnno, re: historical reenactment… This process is clearly -not- working. It is confusing and frustrating pew Catholics and the priests, and is providing yearly red meat for those who are pressing for women’s ordination, or no rules of any kind.
    My argument is that the Pope breaking the rule is really only a visible (granted, very visible) evidence that for good reasons or not good reasons priests, bishops and cardinals apparently are breaking the rules as they currently exist, and the rational is much more cloudy because of married men, and even men not in formation to the priesthood.
    It matters how things read to the public. Even the Catholic public is confused by the act itself and the contradictory acts of many within the Church structure. I don’t think all of this fuss and carrying on was a result of the original foot washing, and it if it is now, then it deserves serious review.

  95. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Thx, Pater. The “outcome” (really, status is a better word) of the “sex thing” can be tracked here: http://www.canonlaw.info/a_deacons.htm.