WDTPRS POLL: More on the Holy Thursday Footwashing Rite

Holy Thursday, Foot Washing, MandatumWe had a WDTPRS POLL about what you experienced on Holy Thursday regarding the footwashing rite, or “Mandatum“.  The results and your descriptions were interesting.

Last night over Beijing Duck I was discussing the Mandatum with friends.  Taking my cue also from the first comment in the previous POLL thread, posted by the Canonical Defend himself, Dr. Ed Peters, I now have a new POLL question.

Please chose your best answer and then add a comment.  You don’t have to be registered to vote, but you must be to comment.

If it were up to me ...

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  1. mhinchi says:

    I feel like there is an irony in a blog dedicated to slavishly literal translation that we are discussing whether or not we should make a mandate optional (yes, I know it’s optional in the GIRM, but so are consecration bells)

  2. Rich says:

    I attended the Ordinary Form at Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara, CA. Only men’s feet were washed, and all the men wore suits and ties. It was well done.

  3. Maggie says:

    If I had my druthers, all the foot-washers would be as directed/explained in the previous post: men. My college Newman Center always chose 12 men who were discerning the priesthood or about to enter the seminary, which made it even more special. Alas, that’s not the case at my parish right now…

  4. Legisperitus says:

    Several years ago, I attended Holy Thursday Mass in our cathedral parish (Ordinary Form of course). There were two or three priests washing feet in the sanctuary along with several distaff extraordinary lay foot-washers. The cathedral rector announced that all of us present were to have our feet washed. Then he unmistakably threatened us with damnation (the only time he ever implied such a thing) if we tried to opt out, by misusing Our Lord’s words “Unless I wash your feet, you shall have no part with me.”

    I did not remain to see how it all turned out.

    Because the Mandatum has become, perhaps more often than not, an opportunity to showcase rebellion against the Church’s liturgical laws and against her infallible teaching on the priesthood, I would rather see it taken back out of the Holy Thursday Mass. Also, it seems like an early manifestation of the postconciliar reformers’ attitude that everything including the kitchen sink had to be put into the Mass itself. I don’t have a problem with the Mandatum in principle; only with what it has come to symbolize in these recent times.

    I voted for Extraordinary Form, without Mandatum.

  5. devthakur says:

    I also voted EF, no mandatum.

    I’d like to mandatum after Mass, it’s a meaningful rite. But as Legisperitus has mentioned, it is a weird thing that we have done, putting baptisms, weddings and everything else (commissioning of catechists, blessing of youth groups, what not Lord?) in the middle of Mass. After the homily has become playtime. The mandatum should be like all those other rites — either done outside of Mass, or not done.

  6. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    The footwashing, or Mandatum, symbolises the Institution of the Priesthood by our Blessed Lord at the Last Supper. That is why there are TWELVE MEN. Just in case we miss the point.

    In the old days (pre 1955) the Rite was NOT a part of the Mass of the Lords Supper, which celebrates the Institution of the Holy Communion, but could be done alone at another time of day. In this way it actually makes it clearer that is also related to the Chrism Mass, which also celebrates the institution of the Sacred Priesthood, which is why all priests attend and concelebrate with the Bishop. Clearly these three things are inextricably related.

  7. templariidvm says:

    Only the Ordinary Form available in my neck of the woods. I would like the foot washing done, but it should be done according to the rubrics, and maybe a bit of explanation so that we can dispel the vapors of the rascally “Spirit” of Vatican II. Simply put, as all here know, all should SAY. THE. BLACK. DO. THE. RED. Viri selecti no more means women or children then “bread” and “wine” mean tortilla’s and apple juice. For the priests and parish liturgical commissions who think they know better, all I can ask is why are they Catholic if the traditions and directions of the Magisterium mean so little to them? The Church is bigger and far more lasting than any of us individuals. So do it right or don’t do it at all.

  8. tjvigg3 says:

    The difficulties that many have experienced with the Mandatum tend to occur in parochial settings. (I include cathedrals within that ambit.) Dr. Peters had an incredibly good sugestion to reserve the Mandatum to the Chrism Mass and have the Ordinary wash the feet of twelve of his priests. That symbolism would be incrementally more powerful than simply washing the feet of twleve ordinary parishioners.

    So many abuses have occurred in a parochial setting, where the inclusion of women has become more of the norm than not, that the easiest option would be for Rome to suppress the mandatum outside of the Chrism Mass option or male monastic communities, where the monks feet are washed by their Abbot, preferably during a canonical hour as opposed to during Mass.

    Anecdotally, the Mass I atended this Holy Thursday had the Mandatum. Six men and six women. I commented on this to the pastor, who is vociferously orthodox and and old friend. He replied that when he arrives a few years back, his predecessor only washed women’s feet and that he was incrementally moving back to only men, raising the temperature slowly in an effort to bring back conformity with the law.

    When abuse has become the norm, it is certainly time to revisit the underlying optional ceremony.

  9. amenamen says:

    My vote is “any, or all of the above.” Just follow the rubrics. Do it right, or do not do it.

  10. Cincinnati Priest says:

    As evidenced by your previous post, and the very unfortunate and muddled USCCB statement hinting that priests should simply ignore the rubrics, it is pretty clear that, thanks to their failure of leadership, the laity are now so confused about the meaning of the mandatum that it has become a mere spectacle, bereft of any real significance to parishioners (or at least any meaning in accord with the tradition of the Church). In those cases, best to eliminate.

    However, if the bishops would man up, request that their priests follow the rubrics (and lead by example), as well as catechizing their flocks to understand the true significance of the rite, then by all means retain it. It is a beautiful part of our liturgical tradition.

    If you have not yet read Francois Mauriac’s beautiful book, “Holy Thursday: An Intimate Remembrance” (translation of Le Jeudi-Saint), I recommend it. It is available on Amazon in used book for a decent price. He has a good reflection on the Mandatum in that memoir.

  11. diazt says:

    EF (though, having never attended a High Mass in person, this is really just a romantic view built out of theological reflection, internet pictures and videos, and too many frustrated Novus Ordo Masses).

    The Mass is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The Mandatum is not part of the Mass, but is put into it so more people can attend (as though they have a “right” to it) and to help with the modern interpretation of “active participation” (read: getting to see people from the congregation near/in the sanctuary). The fact that most people remember this for being the Foot Washing Mass and that Father normally preaches on the Foot Washing proves its taking far too much attention away from the Institution of the Eucharist and so further damaging our already bad understanding of the Real Presence.

    And putting things in the middle of Mass isn’t good. Want it connected to the Mass? Celebrate it right before or right after. Just because we have a Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist doesn’t imply some pause in the Liturgy you can fill in with what you want.

  12. Fr. Andrew says:

    In seminary, I was never taught the purpose of the Mundatum. As a layman, I thought it was to honor some people from the parish. As a priest, I appreciate the Mundatum for what it is: Holy Mother Church teaching her priests to imitate the humble self-emptying of Christ. For me it is a powerful sacramental that teaches me how to be His priest. I already feel as if I’ve lost enough of those in the OF as it is…[begging the question]

  13. BLB Oregon says:

    Is there anything particularly supernatural about women washing people’s feet? What culture has not had that? Is there anything particularly supernatural about a man being willing to wash the feet of a woman? There are men in many cultures who don’t want other guys washing the feet of their wives, daughters, or sisters, but would they really object to washing the feet of some other’s guys wife, daughter, or sister? In what culture, though, do men in positions of power wash the feet of other men?

    That is where the sign quality is: that is, in the counter-cultural nature of Christian service. There are people who serve in every culture: the women, the boys, the lower-status males. That is nothing new. It is the nature of who is placed in service that was turned upside down at the Last Supper. That is why it ought to be not just men, but “select men”.

    I don’t want to despair of ever seeing that happen in an Ordinary Form Holy Week liturgy.

  14. mhinchi says:

    “The fact that most people remember this for being the Foot Washing Mass and that Father normally preaches on the Foot Washing proves its taking far too much attention away from the Institution of the Eucharist and so further damaging our already bad understanding of the Real Presence”

    The Gospel for the evening mentions nothing about the institution of the Eucharist (that happens in the 2nd reading). I’m not suggesting the institution of the Eucharist should be ignored, but isn’t there room for both? This isn’t some question about what Jesus meant to do, or thought we could try to do, the mandate in the Gospel is pretty clear regarding foot washing.

  15. I attend an OF, and I like seeing it done, as long as it is being done properly.

  16. Luke says:

    I attended the Ordinary Form. Mostly women and a few men, including myself, had their feet washed. Everyone was asked to wear an alb.

    I then opted to complete the remainder of the Triduum out of town at the Cathedral where everything was done well & beautifully.

    As a side note, please pray for the repose of the soul of our bishop’s mother who passed from this life into the next on Holy Saturday. Thank you.

  17. skull kid says:

    I quite like the idea of the bishop at the Chrism Mass or on Holy Thursday washing the feet of 12 of his priests. There is a rich and meaningful symbolism there, but beyond that, I don’t really see the point and regard it as quite childish when I see it done each year in my NO parish with men, women, and children. Kind of like the sign of peace. We KNOW we are meant to love and serve one another, we don’t need to act it out in what to me is a fairly meaningless charade. Just like the sign of peace – shaking hands with strangers next to you with sweaty hands, whom you had nothing against before you shook hands, but now bear some ill-will since you’ve just been forced to exchange sweat with them.

  18. abdiesus says:

    I know I probably don’t really have the background and knowledge to comment meaningfully, so by all means take this with a grain of salt, however: I don’t understand why so many people are making comments which indicate they think that the Mandatum was/is being artificially inserted into the Mass of Holy Thursday. I attend an FSSP parish, and in my Baronius 62 missal, the Mandatum is simply part of the liturgical action for Holy Thursday. If that is true, then it simply is NOT true that the Mandatum was artificially inserted into the Mass of Holy Thursday by Paul VI. Now of course, that doesn’t mean that particular priests/parishes using the Ordinary Form are all equally circumspect regarding the rubrics for this, or an other liturgy, but surely we can at least come to some basic agreement about whether or not the Mandatum is a native part of the Mass for Holy Thursday or not. And if it turns out the answer to that question is “no”, then could someone who knows about these things tell me WHEN (how long ago) it was “artificially inserted” into the Mass for Holy Thursday?

  19. Kate says:

    I voted “no footwashing”, but if it were done with twelve men, I wouldn’t mind. The way things are now, I just don’t trust it.

  20. lucy says:

    I attend the EF of the Mass, but had to attend the OF because we only have a Sunday Mass currently in the EF.

    The foot washing was done to the catecumens who were mostly women and more than a dozen. I don’t agree with that, of course. But, what could we do ? We have no where else to go.

    Nothing was covered in our church at the end of Lent.

    I pray for our bishop yet to be appointed. That he will be both orthodox in his thinking and also friendly to traditional folks so that we may finally have our own parish.

  21. Joan A. says:

    Ours is a very small church, with a very old and sweet priest. We usually have 4 men because you could hardly fit any more up there. Everything is proper, but I don’t like it because it pains me to see our elderly priest, with obvious physical difficulty, kneeling and going to all this effort. When I told him that, he said, “That is the point, for me to go through the effort.” Also, the men involved feel a little funny allowing this priest they greatly respect to wash their feet, it is “humbling”. Again, that makes them shy, but at the same time, humbling is what it’s supposed to be.

  22. I voted extraordinary form and footwashing included. However, it should go without saying that the feet should all have XY chromosomes.

  23. In the traditional Dominican Rite, the Mandatum was performed by the prior, in the chapter room, after the stripping of the altars on Holy Thursday. He washed all the friars feet. As for the liturgy medieval Italy (0n which I have published extensively here: http://www.amazon.com/Cities-God-Religion-Communes-1125-1325/dp/0271029099), among the diocesan clergy, the Mandatum was done only by the bishop, who washed the priests’ feet, and in private.

    The introduction of this private clerical ceremony into the public liturgy in the 1950s was a mistake and we are still paying for that mistake. Even without the obvious abuses, the tendency of preachers to focus on it to the exclusion of the priesthood and the Eucharist shows how effectively this misguided innovation has subverted the liturgical logic of Holy Thursday.

    The rite is optional, let’s make it invisible.

  24. I’m glad the idea is striking a chord with some folks.

    The Mandatum rite arises from an action wherein Jesus taught bishops how to be servant bishops. They in turn should be teaching priests how to be servant priests. Clergy already serve me as a layperson about umpteen different ways. We don’t need yet another sacramental to remind them yet again to serve me. We do need, however, a good reminder that bishops are in many ways to be servants of priests. It is, in short, a quintessentially clerical sacramental. It belongs in a quintessentially clerical setting like the Chrism Mass, where clergy can be clergy. Setting aside that the call for “viri selecti” could not be clearer, and on that account alone would deserve obedience, my real ‘beef’ (if I can put it that way) is that laity are part of it at all. It is aliturgical and, if done at all, should be oriented purely to a manifestation of inter-clerical humility. It’s one of the few things that the great author of Mediator Dei got wrong. The view from the pew is different.


  25. Mike says:

    Ok, going out on a limb here: I think it’s wise to have the Mandatum in the EF precisely because the tendency for some, perhaps many, who love the EF is….well, a choleric preciseness, which can…ok…just let me say it…lack of…charity. So the Mandatum, which I gather is precisely about the servant nature of all Christian discipleship–and therefore preeminently refers to the priesthood–is a very useful sign.

    I say this, by way of indicting myself. When I go to weekend Masses in the NO, my general struggle is restraining harsh thoughts about the clowns in the sanctuary who seem to have taken over.

    There, I said it!

  26. Titus says:

    The mandatum has been observed from substantial (even great? I would have to look it up) antiquity and is recognized as an important ritual. That said, it doesn’t have to be in that particular place in the Mass: kick it to the beginning, add an antiphone, etc. That could remedy Dr. Peters’ lament.

  27. eyeclinic says:

    We had the OF celebrated with the complete mix of volunteers for the Mandatum. Father signalled to the congregation that he needed 3 more people,and when no one else volunteered ,he grabbed three unsuspecting souls from the front pew. Maybe this is a portent of the effects of disobedience…at the Easter Vigil mass we had no baptisms,no confirmandi. no catechumens and Father had a difficult time getting through what should have been a substantial part of the Mass. This in a parish of 800 families.

  28. BLB Oregon says:

    From Fr. Augustine: “The introduction of this private clerical ceremony into the public liturgy in the 1950s was a mistake and we are still paying for that mistake….The rite is optional, let’s make it invisible.”

    With some sadness, I have to concede this point. Whether or not the ceremony could have been introduced differently is water under the bridge. It was done as it was done, and it was (apparently) not done well enough. It isn’t reasonable to think this situation is going to turn around.

    From Mike: “So the Mandatum, which I gather is precisely about the servant nature of all Christian discipleship–and therefore preeminently refers to the priesthood–is a very useful sign…”

    I don’t think “lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” works quite like that. Besides, by and large, I have not found that adherents of the EF lack a willingness to serve. They don’t lack an appreciation of the servant nature of the priesthood. Rather, if they lack charity, they tend to be those of us who find their portion of patience severely taxed by laxity in general (or, rather, what strikes them as lax) and therefore by laxity in worship in particular. Willingness to serve in even a menial capacity and willingness to patiently endure broader boundaries than one likes with regards to what is and is not sufficient reverence in others are two very different things.

  29. wanda says:

    I’m in a small parish and usually hear how tough it is to get folks to agree to have their feet washed
    before the day arrives. Many say no, thanks. We wind up with a mix of male, female and youth.

  30. Mrs. Bear says:

    I attended our NO mass on Holy Thursday and our pastor of 6 years, stopped doing the footwashing part a few years back because he wanted to only wash the feet of the male members of the parish and had ruffled too many feathers attempting to do that and didn’t want to get into that sort of arguement during Holy Week – so he stopped doing it altogether. He knew he had the choice.

    I voted for not doing it as it really depends on who your pastor is and what sort of persuasion he is and also if the people in the parish acts like members of a Protestant parish where they can make the rules or pressure the priest into allowing something.
    Thankfully, our pastor knew he had the choice – if push came to shove he would have shoved – but not yet.
    Last year he moved the Tabernacle back to the centre and this year has had the parish start to kneel after the Agnus Dei. He is picking his battles carefully and slowly. A good and holy priest.

  31. Mike says:

    I certainly defer to our priestly commentators on the Mendatum’s history and proper place within the Church.

    BLB–I must differ with your statement quoted below. Vide: Humility, virtue thereof.

    “Willingness to serve in even a menial capacity and willingness to patiently endure broader boundaries than one likes with regards to what is and is not sufficient reverence in others are two very different things.”

  32. Fr Martin Fox says:

    On Holy Thursday, I washed the feet of six men…

    In prior years, the parochial vicar and I washed 12 men’s feet; I made it six because, first, there is no mandatory number, and second, the vicar was very sick and I thought it best not to attempt 12 with him absent.

    I voted to omit it, because it seems to me it makes the most sense when a bishop washes the feet of priests, or a priest washes the feet of seminarians or deacon candidates–that connects it to holy orders.

    That said, I explained in my homily that evening how important it was, to me, to wash the feet of parishioners; that I needed to get on my knees to my people, just as our Lord had done. But that makes it meaningful to me; is that especially meaningful to the folks in the pews? FYI, I have gotten only a little grumbling (thus far) about only washing male feet.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    There are two things that make Holy Thursday Mass different than all the other masses; two things that are especially celebrated at Holy Thursday Mass. They’re related, surely, but there are still two because they’re not identical.
    a) the institution of the Holy Eucharist, and
    b) foot-washing as a symbol of servant-hood.

    Why do people prefer to think about the second, even when the second is only a symbol, but the first is not; even when the second is only an instantiation of something that if it makes any sense, flows from the first as one possible action among many?

    Is it because the second is concrete? Is it because the second can be so easily construed as a nicety, a pleasantry, a sign of normal human association, religious or not?

  34. JKnott says:

    I voted EF no Mandatum and also agree with Dr Peters points. Just excellent, thank you Dr Peters.
    In the context of the Mass, even in the EF, I think it has the draw of entertainment. Lay people generally seem to love all the “options” which so often end up in fadish abuses.
    But the most glaring aspect of the mandatum in the OF is that it becomes the antithesis of the humility that Jesus taught and asked of his priests: Jesus was always obedient to His Father. Today when the rubrics are routinely ignored (disobeyed) out of human respect for the guys and gals etc. it is no longer the virtue that Jesus taught. Therefore, not only does all the washing of feet mean nothing, but it positively showcases disobedience and frankly, vanity as well.

  35. Ben Yanke says:

    My vote was “OF, with washing”, but if there is any reverence lacking, I would say skip it completely. We had a very reverent foot washing with about 1/3 seminiarians (in cassock/surplice) and 2/3 discerners (most in dress clothes) and it was done very reverently. Any other way, though, and I’d say skip it.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    Per the previous comment: I have a problem with the “busy” evisceration of the faith. I mean by this that so many people take one or another common practice and attribute it to something or another but don’t really connect it with any specific theological or doctrinal meaning. They just engage in the activity on the “itsy bitsy spider” level and then attribute privately later because, of course, people redact the things they do. It’s a human trait because we crave meaning. Even when we don’t know what we do things for, we come up with a reason. I’ve heard some mighty strange redactions, too, in my 26 years as a Catholic.

    For instance: We shake hands in church. It’s a fact. But why? And why, at that point in the Mass? Is it merely symbolic? Precisely in what way, and for what? What is the significance of the timing? Or isn’t there any? Is there really a theological or doctrinal reason for this? Or is it social? Or is it okay to have a vague fuzzy good feeling and leave it at that? Anybody?

    Another question: How many hands should one shake? One or two or twenty? How does the symbolism work? Is more better or does one say the same thing as twenty? What does it mean? What drives some people to run eagerly from pew to pew and some to stand with their hands in their pockets, both thinking they’re being properly Christian about it?

    And if hand-shaking is liturgically optional, which it is, what could that possibly mean? If hand-shaking STANDS FOR SOMETHING in stand of BEING SOMETHING in its own right, then why don’t we acknowledge that in a literate (and literal) way? Why isn’t that referential thing made more obvious than all the running around hand-shaking?? But yet, everyone remembers the hand-shaking and the real point molders vaguely in obscurity. Why?

    This is really very similar to the foot-washing thing, clearly a good symbol when it’s understood in the context of the Last Supper. It’s in Scripture at precisely that place.
    Unfortunately, rather than understanding it in that context, I believe that foot-washing is taking place for many people on some nearly entirely concrete level. Peoples’ ideas about what it means are very rudimentary in many cases, and unfortunately I think the foot-washing thing has taken pride of place at Holy Thursday mass for many people. That’s not right; it’s backwards; foot-washing is only a symbol, a prelude, a complimentary statement about the more important features of Holy Thursday which should have pride of place.

    A derivative comment about teaching and how peoples’ minds work conceptually: I used to teach chemistry. Demos & labs, as you can probably guess, are great tools for teaching chemistry. Nearly everyone learns to one degree or another from the concrete instance. HOWEVER, you must be very careful with demos & labs. Many people get bogged down in the activity and miss the point. A little less than half of all viewers actually think of demos as entertainment–surprising but true. Therefore, you must make the point very clear, and require accountability for the point. Otherwise, you will completely waste your time & the time of AT LEAST 1/2 of all the viewers in an average group. Strange but true. This business about symbols and symbol referents in church is no different. Beware people getting caught up in the “itsy bitsy spider” mode, ie the activity steps and novelty, and completely missing the point!!

  37. michelelyl says:

    I prefer the NO, in the local parish and inclusive foot-washing of men and women.
    At my current NO parish, the priests washed the feet of 12 men; no minors, no candidates, no catechumens (elect) because the directive of the Bishop at this time is 12 men who are practicing Catholics, fully initiated.
    At my former NO parish in southern CA, it was 12 people- women, men, candidates, elect, youth, children. It was so meaningful and so well done…and with a very high number of Candidates and Catechumens each year, as well as vocations, I think it is the right thing to do.
    In my current parish, we have a 6 hour drive one way to the Cathedral where the Bishop celebrates the Chrism Mass…with all due respect, Dr. Peters, how can anyone but nearby folks witness the ‘mandatum’ if it’s so far from the rest of the Diocese?
    Or if the Diocese is so enormous, like my Diocese, and we only see the Bishop every two years because of travel distance for the Sacrament of Confirmation, how can our Shepherd set the example to the people of God? I’m talking about Baker Diocese in Oregon. It’s not the Bishop’s fault.
    It’s one reason people are so disconnected from their Shepherd….distance. Sorry but I am not going to travel if the weather is awful…I avoid two lane roads in harsh weather, and we had snow 3 times this Holy Week in southern Oregon!

  38. BLB Oregon says:


    I’m only saying the humility that is not only willing to wash your feet but also willing to clean the bathroom after you got sick in it and the humility that is willing to let you within ten feet of any working part of her kitchen are two different things. A person can clean bathrooms for a lifetime and never give up the pride that goes with having complete control of what goes on in the kitchen. A person can give up complete control of what color the house is done up in, but yet never concede the driver’s seat in the car. Same virtue, yes, but very different sides of it.

    I mean to argue that in cases where “choleric preciseness” shows up as a lack of humility or charity, I don’t think that lack will be remedied by the Mandatum. If a person could be forced into the humility you are talking about by being stuck long enough in a ritual milieu that drives one to distraction, there wouldn’t be anything but humility left in people who prefer the EF! If every Mass attended every day for 50 years didn’t do it, one more ritual that happens once a year won’t do it, either.

    You can’t teach a bear to sing. You’ll just frustrate yourself and annoy the bear. The very precise may be a bit more prone to particular faults, but they have their worthy place in the ritual ecosystem, just like the bears do. I say let them be.

  39. BLB Oregon says:

    …OK….and to some degree, Mike, I mean let us be. I don’t happen to be precise about this particular thing, but bear have to stick up for bears.

  40. James Joseph says:

    Can we annihilate the Responsorial Psalm while we’re at it?

  41. uptoncp says:

    At Sarum it was a separate ceremony in the chapter house. Two priests washed the feet of all the clergy present in descending order of dignity, then each others’, and finally, if he was present, the Bishop’s – which, unless they changed the water, must have been a particularly humbling experience for him.

  42. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    @ abdiesus. The Mandatum (it takes its name from the first word of the first Antiphon which is sung during it) was inserted into the 1955 Rite of Holy Thursday (which is the one current in the 1962 liturgical books) under the reforms of Pope Pius XII, which were carried out by, among others, a young Annibale Bugnini, who later went on to direct the reforms of the 1970 Missal.

    In the ancient rite for this day, the Mandatum was done outside the Solemn Liturgy, as a separate liturgical action or ‘service’.

  43. benedetta says:

    It seems that it has been dissipated of meaning such that if we can think of ‘what if’, then I vote to have it omitted in the ordinary form. I agreed with Mr. Peter’s proposal incorporating it into the Chrism Mass which is still on Holy Thursday and where it can be restored to its message. My second vote would be to have it available on sign-up basis to 12 people of any age, or to offer to all, however I think that the time imposition of having the feet of the whole congregation washed really would have a distracting effect and interfere greatly with the pivotal focus, on the Last Supper and eventual absence of the Blessed Sacrament from our midst in the sanctuary until return at Easter.

    I feel that a lot of the intended meaning is gone for a variety of reasons. On the one hand we no longer aim for or value the universal Christian vocation for holiness, so, it becomes inexplicable as to why certain are chosen while others are not — if there is one thing not needed it is more social/political church jockeying for position, access, and attention by laity in the parishes — and since it is no longer a requirement that one model the vocation or example of Christian holiness to participate in any number of lay ministries or tasks it seems to single out twelve men or men and women doesn’t make much sense or convey meaning.

    Sometimes washing of the feet is turned into an attempt at making a different point, whether one wants to call it social justice or the Christian vocation to holiness through practice of the works of mercy. While that is noble and whereas it was perhaps not the only point Our Lord was making there are many many other moments for underscoring that. Even where it seems that this aspect has been excessively emphasized to the exclusion of the need for personal holiness, as far as I can observe the message doesn’t appear, whether at the political level or social justice activism or concrete works, to have been heard. And the pursuit of works of mercy as a way to enter into the universal call to holiness needs an honest attention through the sacraments that it appears that in many places of the U.S. right now neither clergy nor laity are willing to commit to.

    Finally I renew what I said in the other thread on this topic concerning that we have become so jaded about body parts and the loss of dignity and the sacred that goes along with a Catholic perspective about our bodies that we no longer recoil at the idea of an adult lay woman, a person of dignity, having her foot touched by an adult man, a priest or deacon, not a member of her household. I guess that co-ed dormitories and the like have become the norm, not to mention the crasser elements of hook-ups, pornography, immodest dress, the lack of decorum, manners and a sense of dignity as children of God generally in American culture (not in every culture). So we don’t really think twice about it, it’s no big deal. But I wonder if it shouldn’t be men only for that reason alone, just the idea of dignity or if you want to call it modesty, or just regarding each other with the love that the Lord regarded the disciples and the women who followed him, with a chaste, steadfast love. We objectify each other, it goes without saying that we cannot imagine this respectful love which is more than we in our circumstances can comprehend. I am well aware of the various annointings, washings, touchings and healings in the Bible. And I am not a proponent of the big bad “repression” a la our society’s revered friend, Freud. But I just wonder about this one.

    Just remember, Freud is dead but Jesus is alive…Got that from a sanctity of human life twitter feed…Confucius, dead. Gandhi, dead. Jesus, alive.

  44. Humilitas says:

    I attended Holy Thursday Mass in the Ordinary Form.
    There were eight women, 3 men, and 1 child around 10 years of age that had their feet washed.
    I would prefer that the Foot Washing rite be eliminated from the OF Holy Thursday Mass altogether.

  45. Anne 2 says:

    Washing of the feet of 12 men was done by Jesus. Jn 13:1-17.
    It has great meaning to the Priest and everyone at the service, regarding loving your neighbor and humility.
    Included in the passage are the words: “For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done onto you.”
    Because we have such a good Pastor/Priest at our Parish, I felt the same way the Apostles did when Jesus washed theirs. – You shouldn’t be washing their feet. But I was wrong.

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