Via Media

Via Media


Bishops in action

posted by awelborn

First, Donoghue in Atlanta, in a letter to his clergy last week: (no link available)

“At the celebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the rite of the Washing of the Feet is optional. Where it is celebrated in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, it is my decision that the rubric of the Roman Missal shall be observed, that is, that twelve men (viri selecti) should be chosen from the community to take the part of the Apostles during this rite, other directions in the Paulist ordo, or any other liturgical publications notwithstanding. The “Mandatum” or Washing of the Feet, should be explained to the faithful as a representation of Christ’s linkage of the institution of the Eucharist to the establishment of the Ordained Priesthood, and the burden of service placed upon those who are called to the Priesthood, in keeping with the events described and recalled in this most solemn Mass.”

It’s another endless discussion, but I have a difficult time understanding this. If the idea is that Christ, in washing the feet, was passing on this sense of service to priests, then shouldn’t those having their feet washed be priests and seminarians? How is the washing of the feet of laymen communicating this symbolism?

Then, in Oakland, Bishop Vigneron disallows an ad

A publication for East Bay Catholics refused to run an advertisement and notice announcing a university-sponsored seminar that gathers scholars to discuss the Catholic Church’s future.

As publisher of the Catholic Voice, Bishop Allen Vigneron of the Oakland Diocese rejected running an ad and notification item for the one-day University of San Francisco seminar, “Imaging the Future Church.”

In a March 1 letter to the East Bay chairman of the Voice of the Faithful, Vigneron explained that his decision was based on critical comments on church doctrine he heard from group members.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(51)
post a comment
john hearn

posted March 23, 2004 at 4:24 pm


But Amy, didn’t our Lord wash his apostles feet before He gave them Holy Orders?



report abuse
 

Gregg the obscure

posted March 23, 2004 at 4:28 pm


I think of the priest washing feet on Holy Thursday as an instance of the priest acting as alter Christus, particularly fitting as he then goes on to consecrate the Eucharist.



report abuse
 

Kirk

posted March 23, 2004 at 4:36 pm


And here I always thought that the message we were to understand is that Christ asked his followers to serve others as he was serving them. Silly me. Of course, ONLY PRIESTS or at least ONLY MEN are qualified to signify such service to the Lord.



report abuse
 

Ed

posted March 23, 2004 at 4:53 pm


If memory serves, the Holy Father traditionally washes the feet of asylum inmates (non-violent).



report abuse
 

Peter Nixon

posted March 23, 2004 at 5:10 pm


There is a certain irony in Bishop Vigneron’s decision. The reality is that VOTF has made little headway out here (partly because of Bishop Cummins’ well-regarded approach to clerical sexual abuse cases) and doesn’t have much of a base.
But in the last 24 hours, they’ve received more news coverage than they have in the last 24 months, with two of the region’s major dailies covering the story and some radio and tv coverage almost certain to follow. I daresay that more Catholics in the Diocese of Oakland now know about this weekend’s conference than if the Bishop had let the ad run in the Voice.



report abuse
 

Grant Gallicho

posted March 23, 2004 at 5:49 pm


Did anyone ask the bishop for some examples of this heterodoxy?



report abuse
 

Tim

posted March 23, 2004 at 5:49 pm


I wasn’t a math major, but rounding up 12 priests or seminarians for each church on Holy Thursday doesn’t add up to me. Atlanta has many seminarians but not enough to provide 12 for each parish.



report abuse
 

SiliconValleySteve

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:04 pm


Peter,
I think you may be missing the Bishop’s point. As I’m sure you are aware, the Oakland diocese under Bishop Cummings was anything but orthodox. Most of all in the offices of the diocese. Regardless of the policies of Bishop Cummings regarding clerical sexual abuse, VOTF has a built-in support group for opposition to church policies on abortion, homosexual marriage, and female ordination. Groups such as Call to Action are well represented in chancery offices and Fr. Jim Schnexnayder operates National Association of Catholic Diocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministries, NACDGLM from Oakland.
Bishop Vigneron is setting a very different course. The more publicity he gets for this course change the better. He is letting the Catholics in the Diocese of Oakland know clearly which groups and policies that he considers contrary to Catholic doctrine and practice.
While Oakland Catholics continue to have free will and can choose to ignore the bishop’s advice, they now know where he stands. While I expect that those who choose to dissent from church teachings will not have a change of heart over this and will continue to support CTA and VOTF, those in the confused middle who have been previously misinformed by church officals will now have a better basis to make decisions from. Also, orthodox Catholics in Oakland will now be able to resist the dissident positions of radical priests and nuns in Oakland and claim the support of the Bishop.
God Bless Bishop Vigneron.



report abuse
 

Grant Gallicho

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:15 pm


SVSteve: what does VOTF have to do with the ordination of women, abortion, and same-sex marriage?



report abuse
 

James Kabala

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:26 pm


At my parish, the priest washes the feet of that year’s confirmation class, male and female. (The symbolism, I suppose, is that the mandatum is intended for those who are beginning their lives in the world as Christian adults.) If that violates the Roman Missal, then I guess it shouldn’t be done, but I find it very, very hard to find anything intrinsically offensive or objectively wrong about it. I



report abuse
 

Tim

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:28 pm


I found this on Zenit regarding washing feet.
There are several other questions and answers in the article.
http://www.zenit.org/english/
Q2 -I have learned today about the Washing of the Feet ceremony at Mass in my parish on Holy Thursday. To take the place of the Twelve Apostles, we are to have six gentlemen and six ladies. I would welcome your comments about this innovation. — M.R., Melbourne, Australia
Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.”
A-2: “The rubrics for Holy Thursday clearly state that the priest washes the feet of men (“viri”) in order to recall Christ’s action toward his apostles. Any modification of this rite would require permission from the Holy See.
It is certainly true that in Christ there is neither male nor female and that all disciples are equal before the Lord. But this reality need not be expressed in every rite, especially one that is so tied up to the concrete historical circumstances of the Last Supper. ”



report abuse
 

Cheryl

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:29 pm


Recently retired Bishop Anthony Bosco of the Diocese of Greensburg (PA) used the theme “On Bended Knee” for an excellent pastoral letter. In it he discussed the links between Christ’s washing of the feet and our call (as baptized Christians) to service (which the Eucharist compels and empowers us to carry out). An excerpt:
“Each time we gather around the Eucharistic table, we commemorate and do what Christ told His apostles to do in memory of Him. We know that Christ gave us the Eucharist so that His living presence would remain with us and within us. We refer to the Eucharist as the bread of angels, pilgrim’s food for the journey. It is all of that and more. Sacred writers have reminded us that when we eat natural food it is transformed into us. The apple becomes us and not vice-versa. But the Eucharist is different. It transforms us so that we might become Christ. We are to become His gentle hands, His feet, His loving and compassionate voice and gaze, His very self. Like Paul we should be able to say that it is not I, but Christ who lives within us. This should enliven us not only to be Christ, but also to do as Christ did. All of us have had times in our lives when we seemed to be able to identify with the crucified Christ. To be His disciple, we must carry our cross. But we cannot pick and choose how we will imitate Christ. There are times when we must be Christ on bended knee, washing the feet of our brothers and sisters. Eucharist should urge and empower us to do so.”
The whole letter can be found here:
http://www1.dioceseofgreensburg.org/DOGWeb/WSOTFT3.nsf/PageByKey/BEFDC2E2BEC25AA985256B82007AF47C.html
It’s well worth reading.



report abuse
 

SiliconValleySteve

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:33 pm


Grant,
It is clear that VOTF is a liberal interest group that is largely (although not completely) full of members of the usual suspects. Bishop Vigneron based his decision on conversations with members of VOTF.
“Vigneron explained that his decision was based on critical comments on church doctrine he heard from group members.”
For further documentation I suggest that you read the following article that was written by a VOTF participant. His description of the speakers and program at VOTF events would seem to confirm the Bishop’s opinion.
http://www.crisismagazine.com/january2004/feature1.htm
The times that are a changin in the Oakland and the reactionary left of Berkeley ain’t gonna like it.
God Bless Bishop Vigneron



report abuse
 

john hearn

posted March 23, 2004 at 6:40 pm


Come on GG! VOTF is famous for being a dissident group with their “Structural Change” platform. They have tried (unsuccessfully) from their founding to “hide the heresy” by not taking “official” positions on various topics like woman priests etc., but if you check out who their speakers are at meetings you will find that VOTF is soundly heterodox.



report abuse
 

Peter Nixon

posted March 23, 2004 at 7:33 pm


Well to be fair to Bishop Vigneron, he has taken a more relaxed view toward VOTF than some other bishops. He has met with the group at least once and last I heard he said he had no plans to ban their activity in the diocese. He did express some concerns about their unwillingness to affirm certain doctrinal propositions taught by the Church. Whether a failure to explicitly affirm them can be taken as a denial of those propositions is, of course, a separate question, as is the question of whether sponsoring a particular speaker implies that VOTF agrees with all the positions taken by that speaker.
I suspect (but do not know) that the Bishop makes a distinction between allowing VOTF to meet and giving them the platform of ad space in the Voice. That distinction is not entirely unreasonable, but I do think it had consequences that the Bishop may not have intended.



report abuse
 

John Hearn

posted March 23, 2004 at 7:42 pm


Peter,
So in your opinion, if a group has only dissident speakers at its meetings, then one can’t reasonably assume that that group favor’s dissidents? Giveist thou me a break…



report abuse
 

Peter Nixon

posted March 23, 2004 at 8:15 pm


Well as I peruse the list of speakers at the SF conference, I see some well known liberal luminaries. But I don’t see anyone whose written works have been condemned by their bishops, the USCCB, the CDF, or another competent ecclesiastical authority.
Just because you, personally, may not agree with them does not make them “heterodox” or “dissidents.” With respect, that is simply not your call to make.



report abuse
 

Greg Popcak

posted March 23, 2004 at 9:18 pm


Deja Vue.
When I was in minor seminary in 1986 under (then) Bishop Bevilacqua of Pittsburgh, he made great friends among the women of the diocese by announcing the whole he-man woman haters “‘viri’ means not washing catholic babes feet” deal. As I recall, the subsequent three month turmoil resulted in an appeal to the Vatican which ruled that there was nothing in the rubrics forbidding the celebrant from washing women’s feet. Bevilacqua relented for the remainder of his tenure in Pittsburgh.



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 23, 2004 at 9:33 pm


Grant, the same crackpots who belong to VOTF belong to CTA, and all that dissent is their mantra and hangup. YOu wanna see something funny? Joint CTA/VOTF meetings in Michigan. Hey, it’s convenient, right?? Saves gas, time, mileage, geritol.
Here’s the link: http://www.cta-mi.org/newsl/summ03_4.htm



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 23, 2004 at 9:35 pm


Peter, one would be heterodox if they contradict something that has been taught by the Church. Has this been the case? It’s pretty easy to decide these things, especially these days.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 23, 2004 at 10:28 pm


Peace, all.
Washing feet again, eh? Men only, huh? What is this, liturgical drama? I wonder if the presdier will model his vestment after what Jim Caviezel wore in Christendom’s favorite movie.
Select twelve men: fine with me as long as anybody and everybody who wants to wash feet and be washed can come up freely. “Men only” is actually a 1956 innovation of the Tridentine Rite. In some medieval convents where footwashing was kept alive, gender of the washers or the fuzz feet was irrelevant.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 23, 2004 at 10:41 pm


Peace, all.
Just one more thought. Aren’t Catholic women glad we don’t apply the “viri selecti” rule to the reception of Communion? By the Gospel According to Donoghue, women weren’t there at the Last Supper. Why on earth should they receive the Eucharist? It wasn’t the Lord’s will. He never gave His Body to a mere female.



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 23, 2004 at 10:44 pm


Why must we go thru this every year? This is stupid. Just do what the Church says and get over it, Todd.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 23, 2004 at 11:04 pm


Todd, as I understand it, “men only” was an invention in 1955 because beforehand the ritual was only celebrated at the Cathedral with the bishop washing the feet of seminarians. Hardly a need to specify “men only” when it was just a tad obvious.
When Pius XII wanted this ritual action more widely celebrated he obviously could not expect there to be 12 seminarians at each parish (as Tim stated). But with men only (and in the parishes they were usually altar boys who had the potential of being priests), at least the inherent meaning remains and is not contradicted by the symbolism.
What’s interesting to me is reading the ’87 BCL document, which completely and totally reinvents the meaning of the rite. Read it and try to find any reference to priesthood or Eucharist – the meaning that was present for centuries prior to the 1955 reform.
And what’s also a bit funny is that this non-authoritative document basically says “an abuse has arisen in the US, and here are some excuses for it.” At least Donoghue had the guts to call a spade a spade (where he basically says “I don’t care what interpretations the Paulist Ordo and the BCL have given.”)



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 23, 2004 at 11:05 pm


Peace, mc.
You asked, “Why must we go thru this every year?” Darn good question I ask myself every Lent.
May I ask why a woman should presume to receive the Eucharist by Donoghue’s interpretation? Why does Jesus’ Mandatum apply only to men, but not the Eucharist. He told the disciples to do as he did. Why did one get interpreted one way and the other not?
The hierarchy also said shut up and get over priest sex abuse.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 23, 2004 at 11:06 pm


Peace, Fr Paul.
I believe your scholarship on washing feet is faulty. The predominant understanding of the ritual in monasteries was hospitality and service to the poor. The latter has been a theme of the Holy Father’s.



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 23, 2004 at 11:10 pm


That was the USCCB which doesn’t have canonical or juridical status. They’re just a bunch of bishops throwing their considerable weight around.
When I say listen to the Church, I mean, dear boy, listen to the Church of the Ages. THe whole 2000 years.
I don’t go to Holy Thursday Mass anyway, and I don’t have to look at this particular aberration, then. It’s a symbol, a practice and not doctrine anyway, so get over it.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 23, 2004 at 11:54 pm


Todd, indeed service to the poor was a central meaning of the ritual, but it was not separated from the Eucharistic and Sacerdotal meanings.
Yes, there were some beautiful examples from history where kings would wash the feet of 12 poor men, queens who would do the same for poor women, and monks would do the same in their community – with the poor *men* usually dressed to represent the Apostles – but when it was done liturgically by Popes, bishops or priests, it was always 12 men representing the Apostles. Sometimes when the Popes and bishops did it, they would choose 12 poor priests, and in more contemporary times, they would choose seminarians or altar boys. But nevertheless, from a liturgical perspective, all the symbols remained: the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the call to service.
You introduce women to the liturgical celebration of the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday and you’ve only got two options: reinvent its meaning, or leave out parts of its meaning.
Again, the 1987 BCL document (http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/q&a/general/feet.htm) highlights the call to service and totally ignores the other two meanings that I would argue are essential to the entire celebration of Holy Thursday. The old GIRM (#21 IIRC) warned against changing the “meaning and character” of the rite, and what the BCL did perfectly illustrates this. Note that the question was “What is the significance of the Holy Thursday foot washing rite?” And in its response you can find nothing about the Eucharist or the priesthood.



report abuse
 

David Kubiak

posted March 24, 2004 at 12:06 am


Before the reform of Holy Week in the 50’s (which the more I consider it does seem to me to have sown the ideological seeds of what was to be a very weedy crop in the 60’s) the Mandatum was never a part of the Holy Thursday liturgy. The Bishop’s Ceremonial stipulated that it was to be conducted either in the chapter house of the cathedral or the nave of the church — never the sanctuary, and never as part of the Mass. A clerical dinner traditionally followed. Para-liturgical foot washing may have gone on in women’s religious houses in the middle ages, but certainly the Roman rubrics never envisioned it — and emphatically the reformed rubrics did not, since when the ceremony was moved into the sanctuary the participation of women became absolutely impossible. You can argue on all kinds of modernist grounds for priests indulging in foot-fetish behavior with the ladies of the parish, but you certainly cannot invoke the liturgical tradition of the Roman Church for it.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 24, 2004 at 12:32 am


Peace, Fr Paul.
Those who appeal to literal history in the Gospels will have a hard time reconciling the cafeteria approach to the Last Supper sacraments. The presence of women at the Last Supper is a disputed point, one that cannot be proved either way from John’s witness. Yet even if the absence of women were verified, how does one account for permitting women to receive the Eucharist if they were not present that night? Especially in light of the barring from washing feet or ordination because of the same absence. The evidence for the institution of the Eucharist is undeniable, but not so strong for the other sacrament. The ministry of the Twelve was unique and unrepeatable. While it is true the apostles foreshadowed the later understanding of orders, one cannot say with literal certitude “the priesthood as we know it was founded that night.”
David does a grave disservice to Catholic worship by suggesting “foot fetish” in the same thought as this ritual.
The GIRM only speaks of those “selected,” and does not exclude persons from participating in the ritual beyond those twelve. That is a sensible “literal” rendering of the rite.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 24, 2004 at 1:21 am


Todd, the worst thing you can do to oppose a supposed “literal” interpretation of a rite is to offer an equally literal interpretation as a supposed reductio ad absurdum. If the person you disagree with says he’s talking about deeper meanings than the literal, at least give him the benefit of the doubt. If you can’t do so, it’s the phenomena I believe Mark refers to when he says “scratch an atheist, find a fundamentalist…”
The Gospels are very clear: the Last Supper was meant for the Twelve, as were the countless other occasions where Jesus explained things privately to them. Yes, literally, there were other people present, but their presence had nothing to do with the meaning of the rite that Jesus wanted to convey to his Apostles, else the Evangelists would have indicated as such.
Yes, you can reinvent the meaning of the rite as a small subcommittee of the BCL did in 1987, but that doesn’t change the Gospels or the long history of how this has been memorialized liturgically.
BTW, I can’t find it online and I don’t have access to a good library, so if any of you can find the 1955 document from Pope Pius XII that is referenced in the 1987 BCL document, I’d appreciate it.
As Todd has ignored history and the inherent meaning of Holy Thursday, I suspect that the subcommittee of a subcommittee that actually wrote the 1987 document did so by very selectively ignoring parts of the 1955 document from Pius XII.



report abuse
 

John

posted March 24, 2004 at 7:36 am


The more traditions are cast dawn the greater distance that is put between Christ and the Apostles. That is the liberal agenda.
The fact that VOTF gets a lot of publicity is beside the point. Bp. Vigneron is teaching the faithful. The faithful will learn. The faithless will fume. It may be called the separation of the sheep and the goats. That will be what eventually happens anyway. Bp. Vigneron is doing a little pre-sorting. More power to him!



report abuse
 

Dale Price

posted March 24, 2004 at 7:47 am


Perusing the list of sponsors for the SanFran conclave, I came upon this entity:
“St. Ignatius Institute.”
SII is dead.
Long live Campion College.



report abuse
 

Steve Cavanaugh

posted March 24, 2004 at 8:02 am


In my parish, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening has become an occasion to miss. While I prefer to see the rubrics followed, if the Church were to change the rubric and allow women as well as men to make up the twelve whose feet are washed, it would not be any problem to me. The meaning of the rite, that the priest is called to do as Christ does, is still there. And in this time of clerical scandals, isn’t that something to be emphasized.
But now we have any number of washing stations…and any number of lay men and women doing the washing of hands, feet, and who knows what else…
The parish also instituted having special bread for the communion. Given the texture and taste, I cannot believe that it is in fact unleavened bread made only from wheat and water (as the Latin rite’s canons call for) (and being a long-time bread baker, I’m pretty sure that I’m right on this point). Of course, that means that we end up having this same bread for the Good Friday Passion service. So we get two invalid communions that week.
So last year, being unwilling to take part, I took my children and a friend of theirs to Mass at the Anglican-use parish in West Roxbury. They don’t use the foot washing rite at all, but do begin their Lenten Masses with a procession, chanting the Litany. It was a much more edifying experience (not only for the human elements such as music, but even for the divine ones, as the consecration of illicit elements means an invalid consecration).
I’ll be with the congregation of St. Athanasius again this year.



report abuse
 

Colleen

posted March 24, 2004 at 8:26 am


Fr. Paul:
The following article looks like a fairly succinct account of what happened in 1987 regarding the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy on the question of Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet.
“Paths to Rome: Washing of feet on Holy Thursday” by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky of the Diocese of Arlington. (no surprise the ICEL had a hand in this as well)



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 24, 2004 at 9:56 am


Peace, all.
A few points on recent posts.
“Todd, the worst thing you can do to oppose a supposed “literal” interpretation of a rite is to offer an equally literal interpretation as a supposed reductio ad absurdum.”
I don’t think so. I point out the fault in the “pseudo-orthodox” approach. We have a “tradition,” and we seek to justify that tradition by a selective reading of Scripture or history. I realize that Tridentine Catholicism, in reaction to the Reformation, attempted to rationalize certain practices such as a sacramental priesthood through the lens of its own interpretation of Scripture, saying, “Jesus meant for it to be so.” The best we can say about the gender of feet washed is that liturgically clergy have done it with men, and that women have done it with women.
“The Gospels are very clear: the Last Supper was meant for the Twelve, as were the countless other occasions where Jesus explained things privately to them.”
The Gospels are hardly clear on this point, especially in light of what we know about the early history of the Church. The washing of the feet demonstrated service, charity, and love. To my knowledge, it has never been part of the ordination rite per se. You’re on very shaky ground to make the connection there. Regardless of how this event may have been interpreted in the past, no one can say with the certainty of what we believe about the Eucharist, that foot washing had any exclusive connection with the Twelve. The Twelve, by the way, are not mentioned at all in John’s Last Supper narrative. The whole thing is a house of cards. Why cast doubt on the good Scriptural-Sacramental connections we can make by stressing the weak ones?
” … the consecration of illicit elements means an invalid consecration …”
Not officially. Only in the mind of a distracted observer. Illicit elements mean a defect in liceity, not validity
And regarding bread, various types and ages of wheat flour will produce vastly different results. Then factor in the variations in tap water, distilled water, or mineral water. Anyone who has baked pastry knows the effect of small changes in humidity on the simple ingredients of fat, flour, and water. And anyone who partakes of various eastern Mediterranean foods knows a wide variety in the textures of unleavened bread.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 24, 2004 at 11:04 am


Todd: “The Twelve, by the way, are not mentioned at all in John’s Last Supper narrative. The whole thing is a house of cards.”
Thanks for bring that up, Todd, as it encouraged me to re-read John’s account.
In doing so, I discover that the following people are mentioned: Jesus, John (the beloved disciple), Peter, Judas, Thomas, Philip, and the “disciples”. Last I checked, they were members of the Twelve. Any other interpretation has to be based on “what if” and not fact.
Pity poor John who didn’t imagine that as he was writing his Gospel and reflecting on the events surrounding the Last Supper, thinking of his audience who already had the accounts of Matthew (26:20), Mark (14:17), and Luke (22:14), that he didn’t bother to include a specific and precise reference to convince post-modern liberals that the Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet were done for the Twelve.
Todd: “Regardless of how this event may have been interpreted in the past, no one can say with the certainty of what we believe about the Eucharist, that foot washing had any exclusive connection with the Twelve.”
Spoken like an obviously well-indoctrinated deconstructionist post-modern liberal: I can’t be certain of anything, therefore nothing is certain, therefore I will give it the meaning I choose.
And it really is remarkable to see that in casting doubt on the events of the Last Supper, you have also cast doubt on the Eucharist and the Priesthood.



report abuse
 

Kirk

posted March 24, 2004 at 11:37 am


What I find disappointing are the comments above along the lines of:
1) I don’t attend Holy Thursday services; and
2) Holy Thursday services have become an event to miss at my parish.
What a shame. What a darn shame.
At my parish, if you aren’t in your seat an hour beforehand (and it is a large church), you don’t get a seat. And, yes, we wash the feet of men and women. I have traveled across country a day earlier than planned in order to attend Holy Thursday services at my parish. It is the ONE day I would not want to miss. It is moving, spiritual, humbling service. We often have six or more priests concelebrating it. At the conclusion of the service, we process through the streets of Georgetown to our chapel for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament … it is quite a sight to see so many people (on what often is a cold, rainy evening) processing and singing (in Latin, no less!).
I hope all who participate in Amy’s Open Book will make it a point to attend a Roman Catholic parish this Holy Thursday.
Peace.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 24, 2004 at 11:51 am


Peace, Fr Paul.
Are you reading me carefully, or through the lens of being a “well-indoctrinated deconstructionist post-modern traditionalist?”
I’m also aware of the specific names mentioned in John 13-17, but since not all of the Twelve are mentioned by name, it could be that other “disciples” include both the Twelve and others, even perhaps women. The point being that speculation (however traditionally applied on disputed points) needs to be separated from surety of tradition.
The Eucharist, however much you seem to believe I have attacked it, remains at the summit of our faith. The possible or conjectured presence of women at the first one can hardly be said to cast doubt on it. I think you’re reaching badly on this tack.
Holy Orders is not dependent on an unverifiable event the night before. But people of faith do not need the surety of post hoc justification to embrace it as a Sacrament.
And as far as the attempt at mutual discussion to explore a topic of faith is concerned, the approach of proof-texting Scripture or Catholic tradition is even more unsteady ground than the direct exploration of doubt.
Galatians 3:28 would suggest we work to uncover a sensible approach to gender and participation. I don’t dispute Archbishop Donoghue’s canonical right to govern his diocese liturgically. But just because a leader is empowered to make decisions, doesn’t mean these decisions are sensible.
In essence, this dispute is akin to the standing/kneeling debate after the reception of Communion. If you read GIRM literally, then standing is the posture. It doesn’t make pastoral sense, but there you have it. Likewise with washing feet. There is a stretch, a big one, to justify the exclusion of women on pastoral grounds, especially considering the history of the ritual and the Scriptural witness is in dispute.
Sadly, it leads me to think the Catholic Church lacks the necessary charity to conduct such a rite without hypocrisy.



report abuse
 

Peter Nixon

posted March 24, 2004 at 12:28 pm


I have to echo Kirk’s comments, since he and I once shared the same parish, which is the one he refers to now. At that parish, the entire Triduum was a standing-room-only situation, with people arriving–in some cases–90 minutes prior to the services in order to have a seat. I moved out to California before the work on the chapel was completed, so in those days we didn’t have much of a procession during the transportation of the Blessed Sacrament. But my memories of those nights are still vivid and powerful.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 24, 2004 at 1:10 pm


Todd: “There is a stretch, a big one, to justify the exclusion of women on pastoral grounds, especially considering the history of the ritual and the Scriptural witness is in dispute.”
A stretch? Show me something other than a para-liturgical event where this was practiced. Show me a Pope or a bishop or a priest before the 20th century who washed the feet on Holy Thursday of anyone other than men who were chosen to re-present the Last Supper. You can’t. Yes, sometimes simply poor men were chosen, sometimes deacons and seminarians, sometimes poor priests. But never women. Talk about a stretch.
And yes, you are correct: the scripture is in dispute – among the deconstructionists… but not in tradition, history, the teaching of the Church, or what was clearly in the minds of the Evangelists.
You know, I could come up with a dozen different meanings for each ritual in the Mass I celebrate every day. I’ve seen others try to do so all too frequently. I’m reminded of what Chesterton said, “It is easy to be a heretic… It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.”



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 24, 2004 at 4:39 pm


Peace, Fr Paul.
A bishop or priest? You’re right. I can’t. But likewise I cannot find evidence of women EM’s, lectors, preachers, etc.. That’s why I prefer not to have the presider do all the washing. That’s a task which should be shared by all present. The idea is that all become like Christ in faith, in carrying the cross, not an imitator of a person of power.
I think it’s highly presumptuous to claim knowledge of what was in the minds of the evangelists. The Church is ideally a living Church, which means that tradition is in dialgoue with the spiritual and pastoral needs of the present.
I don’t think much of your use of logic: a careful dodging of literalism on one hand, but near slavish acceptance elsewhere. The Church’s Tradition is not strengthened by selective memory and application of theological principles.
And back to the Last Supper, the point is not to find a dozen meanings. The point is to find one that is loyal to Christ’s demonstration of love and charity and that will resonate in the lives of the Catholic faithful today. Somehow, an all-male paraliturgical drama inserted into the Mass seems worse than doing nothing at all.



report abuse
 

Peggy

posted March 24, 2004 at 5:57 pm


When I arrived at my parish in ’96 (moving here), I think that women were among those whose feet were washed. Bp. Loverde recently changed that policy, officially, I believe. Last year, there were 12 altar boys and seminarians whose feet were washed. That seems appropriate w/tradition. I will say that the song played during it was incredibly awful. The electric piano at our parish just grates on me. There are about 500 letters, especially since last Holy Thurs, which remain in my head, wisely not sent, about that awful instrument and that particular song–they might as well have sung “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” For some reason, we did not sing Latin this last year as the Blessed Sacrament was tranpsorted in a procession at the end of the mass. On balance, I belong to a really great parish. It’s hard to complain. [Also, not to sound too prudish, but should a priest be washing a woman's foot, anyway? In regard to physical intimacy, I ask, not sacred tradition.]



report abuse
 

caroline

posted March 24, 2004 at 6:04 pm


The first time I really got a good look at the washing of the feet ceremony was in 1996 at Little Sisters of the Poor in San Francisco. As a lector sitting in the sanctuary I had a front row seat for observation both before and after the whole Mass. I watched Little Sisters preparing the basins, filling them with water which they had to carry out from the sacristy in jugs, following the priest with towels which the nuns actually used to dry the old folks’ feet after the priest had swished water around them, and, finally, lugging the water filled basins back to a sink in the sacristy. No, “finally” was doing the laundry, cleaning the jugs and the basins, and packing it all away. It made me laugh. In my present parish, thanks to the Little Sisters” example, I jump in along with other women to do the clean-up. There is a “mere” brother who helps like a woman.
I do wonder where the serious message in the re-enactment of Our Lord’s “action-parable” really lies. I wonder too if only “Sarah laughed.”



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 24, 2004 at 10:02 pm


Well, Todd, we can agree on this: it’s a good thing the Washing of the Feet is optional. For the most part, its practice in parishes is a post-VII invention that has been a failure.
And as a pastor, in my experience, it’s always a mess. You’d think a liturgical experience should always be uplifting, but instead we’re worried about the parish politics and who gets their feet washed and why. So rather than make a statement, what the Church intended, we end up making another statement, what we intend, which always manages to p*ss someone off for political or ideological reasons.
At my pre-penance-service dinner tonight with a large group of my fellow pastors we discussed what we were going to do. Most were going to wash the feet of the candidates and catechumens (men or women, no matter, no politics), a practice I like and have done on many occasions. Others were going to omit it altogether. I like the former practice, but will probably end up doing the latter.



report abuse
 

Todd

posted March 24, 2004 at 10:37 pm


Peace, Fr Paul.
Have a good and holy Triduum whatever you decide to do. A friend of mine thought the question was submitted to Rome about twenty years ago, and though she didn’t have the exact reference, the word came out there was nothing wrong with washing women’s feet. Good sense from the people who brought you kneeling after Communion.



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 25, 2004 at 12:17 am


Fr, that’s why I just skip it. I don’t need to have any more brushes with liturgists than absolutely necessary. In regular masses, I can often just edit them out–this is too much of a show for me. I don’t go in for post-V2 shows.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 25, 2004 at 12:41 am


Thanks Todd, and best to you as well.
I ran these ideas by my RCIA director who ran it by the candidates and catechumens. The bottom line was that the women didn’t want to do it anyway. Something to do with pantyhose.
Funny how pastoral issues are often resolved not by theology, but by practicality.



report abuse
 

Kevin Miller

posted March 25, 2004 at 6:54 am


First, I think that, per what is likely to be historical reality, and what is fairly clearly the rubric (though probably not because the washing per se has much to do with priestly ordination), men’s feet ought to be washed.
Second, I want to encourage Fr. Paul and others to maintain the rite – parish politics be damned!
I think it’s a very important expression of the reality of what Jesus does for us, in his passion and death, through the Church. I don’t believe I’ve ever attended a Holy Thursday Mass from which it was omitted. I’d hate to see that change.



report abuse
 

Plato's Stepchild

posted October 6, 2005 at 11:04 am


“Last year, there were 12 altar boys and seminarians whose feet were washed.”
Peggy nailed it. The laity don’t understand the significance of the symbolism, therefore it becomes confused with



report abuse
 

Plato's Stepchild

posted October 6, 2005 at 11:09 am


the clericalization of the laity. To put it another way: the confusion over the footwashing ceremony is a perfect indicator of the state of the faith among the laity.
I like the idea of altar boys and seminarians being the 12, as it certainly clears up the confusion that seems to result otherwise.
Interesting way to encourage vocations, as well.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

There is nothing I shall want
A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as on

posted 9:24:16am Mar. 05, 2009 | read full post »

Revolutionary Road - Is it just me?
Why am I the only person I know..or even "know" in the Internet sense of "knowing"  - who didn't hate it? I didn't love it, either. There was a lot wrong with it. Weak characterization. Miscasting. Anvil-wielding mentally ill prophets.But here's the thing.Whether or not Yates' original novel in

posted 9:45:04pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Books for Lent
No, I'm not going to ask you about your Lenten reading lists...although I might.Not today, though. This post is about giving books to others. For Lent, and a long time after that. You know how it goes during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, right?Well, here's a worthy recipient for your hard-

posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No?Okay...how about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling Episcopalians, all the better.To tell the truth, you can bl

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every minute of labor, describing the intensity of discomfor

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.