Friday, March 13, 2015
OH FOR THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF THEE FEET! IT'S THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!
The Catholic Liturgy allows but does not require that feet be washed once a year and only on Holy Thursday. It is optional! It is not a sacrament! It is a sacramental! It need not be divisive! It is divisive! Why or why is it so?
Well, it all has to do with a little rubric which indicates that 12 men (vir) are to be chosen. But ever since I can remember, as far back as the 1970's, men and women were chosen, or in some cases only boys, not men, boyS, altar boys at that. So much for following the letter of the law.
Somehow, neo-traditionalists think that the washing of the feet of 12 men reflects the 12 apostles, the first priests/bishops of the Church. If this were so, then it seems to me that the rubric would be that 12 seminarians, or candidates for the priesthood, or priests and bishops themselves, can only be chosen to have their feet washed.
When I was the Master of Ceremonies for the bishop from 1985 to '91, Bishop Raymond Lessard washed only six people's feet and I chose a mix of men and women, boys and girls as I recall.
Why six only? Because for Bishop Lessard it wasn't a literal act of imitating something from way back when in the Scriptures that Jesus did at the Last Supper and only in John's Gospel, but a symbolic act of showing that bishops and priests and deacons must not only serve in the temple in a sacramental way , i.e. offering sacrifice, but they should also live sacrificial lives of service and be not afraid of the "unclean" or becoming "unclean" as the Jewish temples priests were. For the Jewish priests to become unclean meant they couldn't offer sacrifice in the temple, but not so for the bishop or priest.
Choosing six people makes it clear that they are not the 12 apostles, just like the laity at Mass are not the apostles like at the Last Supper! That's what fundamentalism has done to the Church especially when the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer takes literally what he is doing as though it is a reenactment of the Last Supper and just gestures to the congregation as though to the 12 apostles when consecrating the Bread and Wine.
So are we going to be liberal liturgical literalists with the foot washing and only pick 12 men who are suppose to be the apostles? Or are we going to do a liturgical act that points in sign and symbol to something more powerful in the present? I choose the latter, like Pope Francis has done and will do!