Friday, January 22, 2016
WHAT POPE FRANCIS HAS FINALLY AUTHORIZED BY HIS LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY DOESN'T REALLY STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN!
But of course, the laity that are chosen are usually not priests in normal parishes, so the literal symbolism of actual apostles (bishops) is lost when 12 lay men or boys are chosen for this ritual. I guess one could say the 12 symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel which includes women, but again Jews would need to be chosen if one sees this ritual literally.
Pope Francis has reinterpreted the liturgical meaning of this ritual. Unfortunately, the rubric should say that if all men are not chosen, then only 6 to 10 should be or any number more or less than 12, to avoid the 12 apostles literalism.
I am ambivalent about this ritual. In the context of Holy Thursday which as two official Masses, that of the Cathedral's Chrism Mass and the other of the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The Chrism Mass is celebrated first and specifically for priests and their bishop, and celebrates Christ's institution of the priesthood so necessary for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper in parishes celebrates the Holy Eucharist instituted by our Lord at that first Holy Thursday in anticipation of His cosmic Sacrifice on Good Friday and the means by which it is to be offered again and again by His ordained priests who take His place until the Lord returns.
But bishops, priests and deacons (those in the ministerial Sacrament of Holy Orders) must know and show symbolically during the Holy Thursday's Mandatum that the Catholic priesthood in comparison to the Old Testament Priesthood is not primarily ritualistic and concerned with ritual purity or worried about becoming unclean by doing "dirty work" like cleaning feet, touching the poor and their wounds, forgiving sin and burying the dead by touching their bodies. These would have rendered the Old Testament priest ritually impure and thus incapable of carrying out his duties of offering sacrifice. Not so for the priesthood of the New Dispensation, doing the dirty work of mercy is necessary for the ordained priesthood and the general priesthood of the laity both of which are configured to the High Priesthood of our Lord, His exclusive Priesthood!
The Catholic Priesthood, that of the ordained and the general priesthood of all the baptized, the laity, offering sacrifice in no way is compromised by the work of ministry be these the Corporal or Spiritual works of Mercy which the washing of feet shows forth once a year in an optional Catholic Ritual done only during the Mass of the Lord's Supper after ordained priests have been to the Chrism Mass with their bishop and renewed their priestly vows.
And this is the true interpretation of John's Gospel's inclusion of this fact of what Jesus' did for the Apostles, all 12 of them to include Judas, whom He knew would betray Him in washing their feet. The High Priest who offers the final Sacrifice which all Old Testament sacrifices prefigure is not rendered impure by his ministerial service of using his hands to wash dirty feet!
John Gospel does not present us with the Last Supper narrative of instituting the Mass. The Gospel clearly presumes it, but on Matthew, Mark and Luke make it explicit. Rather John's Gospel focuses on Jesus washing the dirty, "unclean" feet of his 12 Apostles prior to our Lord's High Priestly ritual Sacrifice which He institutes or shows forth later during the Last Supper. The Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, is not rendered impure to carry out the priestly ritual of Sacrifice after touching something unclean, He goes on to institute and celebrate the new and eternal Sacrifice of the New Covenant.
So Pope Francis' reinterpretation of the Mandatum for the Catholic Mass is not heterodox in the least nor is it clerical which could lead to a clericalism of sorts in the men only version of it.
There is also a trickle down element of the laity having their feet washed (and keep in mind again, that in most parishes all bishops are not chosen to have their feet washed, all priests are not chosen to have their feet washes, all deacons are not chosen to have their feet washed and all seminarians are not chosen to have their feet washed. No lay men, who are not priests and most will never become priests are chosen. Thus 12 laity, men or women, boys or girls, could symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel which the 12 Apostles and their successors symbolize in the New Dispensation. We all come under the original 12 tribes and are the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prefigures.
But the laity participate in the baptismal priesthood of the Church both in its sacrificial and service aspects. That's the true symbolism of the Mandatum for the priesthood, be it the general priesthood of the baptized or the ministerial priesthood of the ordained. Nothing stinks about that!
And Pope Francis makes this aspect of his revised rubrics abundantly clear and thus emphasizes that the priesthood is sacrificial just as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is:
I take this opportunity to say to you that for some time I have been reflecting on the rite of the "washing of the feet", contained in the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, in order to improve implementation of options, to express fully the meaning of this gesture by Jesus at the Last Supper, his self-oblation [self-giving, sacrifice] to the end for the salvation of the world, his charity without borders.
For those who see the Mass simply as a meal and the priesthood simply as presiding at this ritual meal, what Pope Francis is teaching will be a source of tremendous dismay and contempt. Pope Francis is speaking of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as well as the Catholic priesthood, in its general and ministerial forms, as sacrificial a sign of Jesus self-oblation. Now that's pre-Vatican II and Post Vatican II, make no mistake about it!