Thursday, April 2, 2015



George said...

Don't take this as a criticism of the Holy Father but I would not feel comfortable washing a woman's feet unless I was married to her. My sense of modesty and propriety is hopelessly Victorian I'm afraid.
Obviously Pope Francis feels differently which is his prerogative.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Priests are doctors of the Lord treating both body and spirit. It is a good thing, George, you didn't become a gynecologist! :)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I can't really get upset as so many do about the Holy Father washing the feet of women. My only criticism of it is that he hasn't explained it or just simply legislated that the word "vir" in the Roman Missal's rubrics be changed to allow for the opposite gender if a bishop or pastor chose to include the opposite gender in the washing of the feet as Pope Francis does. Pope Benedict with changed the vernacular word in the words of consecration to "many" where "all" was used. He explained it too! It is perhaps the very thing that Pope Francis constantly criticizes, "clericalism" for a bishop or priest to do something that isn't completely in line with "small minded rules" and then not explain why he ignores the rule. Of course good Italians ignore the rules all the time all the while upholding them in a duplicitous way. And yes, I followed the example of Pope Francis on Holy Thursday and had a mix of men and women. The church's roof didn't collapse nor the parousia occur.

Anonymous said...

The liturgy does not belong to you Father. You had no right to break liturgical law just because you wanted to. You are not the pope. What you did is in complete violation of Vatican II "no one, not even a priest may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own accord". You don't have the authority to do what you did.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The narrowness, but not only that, the ignorance of traditionalists is that they don't understand the authority of the pope and bishops of the Church especially when it comes to dispensations. this is why this movement will crash and burn if it doesn't straighten up and fly right. It will remain but a handful of angry Catholics who are ignorant of the Church and her authority.

The pope now allows for the washing of the feet of both men and women.

Our bishops since 1974 through today have allowed for the same dispensation from this liturgical rubric which is hardly a canon law. If bishops can dispense from certain higher forms of canon law, especially as it concerns the form of marriage, but also other more important canons, such as the law of celibacy for priests in the Latin Rite when married former Protestant ministers petite Rome and their local bishop for ordination to the priesthood in the Latin Rite (we have two former Episcopal priests now Catholic priests who are married in our diocese)a bishop can by example allow for the same dispensation.

Rood Screen said...

A simple solution is to wash the feet of twelve members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (or some other group that works with the poor) before Mass, and then omit the mandatum during the Mass of the Lord's Supper. This solution preserves the mandatum, even allowing for the inclusion of women, but removes the liturgical element.

rcg said...

Is the washing of feet of equal canonical importance as priestly celibacy?

Anonymous said...

So sad for Anonymous to be so angry during Holy Week!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, the word Vir must be changed to make clear that it is generic, men or women, just as we would use the word man and he and his in a global way, an inclusive way (although I realize many today don't understand English inclusivity by using the masculine.

Except in the Extraordinary Form of the liturgies of the Church, the normal, regular liturgies of the Church allow women in the sanctuary to be servers, lectors, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (please note that Extraordinary both for Communion Ministers and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, means out of the ordinary and in case of need).
The mantra of what I would call angry Catholic pseudo-traditionalists is that women don't have a place in the sanctuary. They are partially correct, but only for the out of the normal aspects of the Church's liturgy, not for the normal and regular.

Unknown said...

So sad for Anonymous to be so angry during Holy Week!

I didn't know it was Holy Week!?

Anonymous said...

"The pope now allows for the washing of the feet of both men and women."

The pope has NOT changed the liturgical directive that only the feet of males be washed during the Holy Thursday Mass. you have no right/authority to change it.

And pointing out the truth is not being angry. How judgemental of someone to judge my interior state.

Father, you are a good person but you are moved by emotion. Using right reason gets someone into heaven
Not schmaltzy sentimentality. Commiting liturgical abuse is not a good thing because the liturgical norms of the Church Do not hinder a person in living a good Catholiclife they enable it. The pope has supreme power to excuse himself from Church made "rules", you don't posses this power. You don't have the authority to alter the official liturgy of he Church. You just don't. You are the servant of the liturgy. You cause scandal when you do these things and you take that upon yourself. Acknowledging that reality is not mean it a work of true mercy. It is high time Catholics put away sentimentality and start living the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Instructing the ignorant and admonishing the sinner is merciful. Commiting liturgical abuse on one of the most sacred nights of the year isn't.

Anonymous said...

"The pope now allows for the washing of the feet of both men and women."

I understand this statement to be false, plainly and simply. No liturgical law has been changed. If the pope wished to change the law restricting foot-washing withing the liturgy to males, he certainly could and surely would do so.

He has simply allowed himself an exemption to this law on appropriate occasions. (And, incidentally, as a rock-solid traditional Catholic, I see no objection to his doing so.)

But the law continues to apply to every one else, to all priests and in all parishes. I myself would have no objection if the pope changed the males-only law; it does not seem tome to be of capital doctrinal importance. But this is his decision, not up to me, or to any simple priest or pastor.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There is no smaltzy sentimentality here. The pope by example is allowing this and I am sure that in his Diocese last night, a great number of parishes had women whose feet were washed.

But more importantly and closer to home, our bishop, and by his authority as a successor to the apostles allows pastors to decide for themselves if they will include women or not or omit the rite altogether.

When the two in authority, the pope and the bishop are doing it and thus allow others to do it, I fail to see how Pope Francis and his priests in the Diocese of Rome or Bishop Hartmayer and his priests in the diocese of Savannah are guilty of anything.

Anonymous said...

The Holy Father should change the law if he wishes for others to follow the exemption he himself has from church law. Such an easy matter to change "viri" to "homines" in the law. My concern is by not so doing - a matter that would take him seconds - he may, unwittingly (one hopes), encourage contempt for not just this law, not releut law generally.

Anonymous said...

Corrected: The Holy Father should change the law if he wishes for others to follow the exemption he himself has from church law. Such an easy matter to change "viri" to "homines" in the law. My concern is by not so doing - a matter that would take him seconds - he may, unwittingly (one hopes), encourage contempt for not just this law, but for law generally.

CPT Tom said...

Father, the bishops do not have the authority to change a part of the Mass without the approval of Rome. They have never had it for this innovation, just like so many of the other abuses after the council.

If you go to the website of the USCCB they give a fig leave for this obvious abuse After detailing the canon law ("vir selecti") Paragraph 4 they cite a custom (That they encouraged no less) that has developed over the last 10 years "in many places to invite both men and women to be participants" out of charity and service. That's it. 10 (or even 30 now) years does not a custom make. period.

This is more "Spirit of Vatican II" flim-flam. There is NO approval from Rome. They just allowed it. Just like altar girls, and just like communion in the hand, they are hoping to present a faite complete.

That's why I have a problem with it. Either change the law or don't do it. Let's not pretend that it is the truth.

Anonymous said...

Well when Pope Benedict was pope he only gave communion to people on the tongue while they were kneeling (any please don't mention the few occasions in Germany or when Queen Sophia took communion in the hand, that was just individuals blatanly being disrespectful to the wishes of the pope).

So by your logic Father, even though Pope Benedict never formally changed the norm for distributing communion only on the tongue to people who are kneeling, just the fact that he did it means he is allowing for individual priests to do that.

So therefore any priest can deny communion to people who are standing and want to receive in the hand. That is the logical conclusion to your arguments because they are based on emotion not reason. The pope has NOT changed any liturgical law and you and your bishop cannot abrogate a worldwide liturgical direct without permission from Rome.

CPT Tom said...

Anonymous is correct, this kind of falsehood breeds contempt for the Law. We see it in secular culture all around us. We have seen it since the end of the Vatican II council. Disobedience has been the norm since then embodied in the so-called "Spirit of Vatican II."

CPT Tom said...

By the way, in my Parish, the Foot Washing has gotten completely out of control. Now the priest washes 12 people's feet and then they get up, and another 12 come up and their feet are washed by the original group and so on This goes on for 45 minutes usually (about 1/4 of the congregation might parcipate, usually less. It completely derails the mass. This is what we have come to. I would prefer the foot washing is dropped (which is a valid option.) and avoid this train wreck completely.

Anonymous said...

The preceding Anonymous has got it right. The law requiring foot-washing of men only does not seem to me to be of great doctrinal importance.

What IS important is obedience to the laws of God and Church. Each pope and each bishop who encourages disobedience to these laws is thereby failing in his duty to encourage respect for God and his law. This kind of ambiguity is what has so eroded faith in recent decades.

Incidentally, my parish exhibited laudible diversity in the 12 males whose feet were washed last night--half were apparently Hispanic, and half were not.

George said...

"Priests are doctors of the Lord treating both body and spirit. It is a good thing, George, you didn't become a gynecologist! :)"

True. Being a physician, like the vocation of the priesthood, is a special calling not suited to everyone. I'm glad to see though that more women have gone into the Ob/Gyn specialty.
As far as my Victorian sensibility, I have been around people times in my life who were not that way at all. This did do some harm to me and would have done more had I not been able to avoid such company.

Ted said...

Does this mean that now anyone can readily ignore liturgical laws again if it is done for the sake of love? That was the general rule in the 1970's when liturgical laws were regularly broken for the sake of the love of God and neighbour, according to the presider's feelings.

Rood Screen said...

I really don't think the key question here is about liturgical law, but about liturgical purpose. Even the USCCB website provides competing explanations for the Mandatum, in one place saying "it is an allusion to the humiliating death of the crucifixion", and in another "to show the Lord's commandment about fraternal charity". What's really needed is a clear, authoritative explanation for the liturgical execution of the Mandatum.

Anonymous said...

Good Friday, the day that Christ died for YOUR sins, and all YOU have to ay is to whine about washing a woman's feet? Would it be OK to wash His Mother's feet?

YetAnotherAnonymous said...

Example is not equal to dispensation. Example is not equal to change in liturgical law.

Period; the end; opinions of any and all (including mine) are irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

"Good Friday, the day that Christ died for YOUR sins, and all YOU have to ay is to whine about washing a woman's feet? Would it be OK to wash His Mother's feet?"

It is amazing that when people rationalize actions by using emotion instead of reason, and they can't argue using facts and reason they fall back on emotion. I know perfectly what Good Friday is about that doesn't mean I can't engage in a discussion. If one liturgical abuse can be rationalized then all liturgical abuse can be rationalized. If we can break one law then why not break two or three or just ignore what we don't like. What would happen to the Church if that kind of chaos ruled. Oh wait........

Rood Screen said...


Why do you think that commentators here have nothing else to do today? What is it about searching for the best understanding and practice of the Triduum rites that you find offensive? Why do you believe that your own take on things is the only appropriate one?

Paul said...

In any event, as the hour approaches, there are many women with clean feet. I'm certain that at this hour, in many parts of the world, there are plenty of women with no means to clean their feet whether it be because of dirt, lack of clean water, crippled hands, loss of hope or disdainful looks from the "clean".

Discipline can be changed with a dispensation.

All Praise and Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

"discipline can be changed with a dispensation"

Yes it can but that isn't what is happening. The law is being violated on purpose. If Francis formally changed the liturgical rubric, which he has the power to do, I would have no problem with it. But he doesn't do that, he prefers to violate the law. What kind of example is that? Frankly the washing of the feet during Holy Thursday Mass should be abolished. It was only invented and introduced under the changes made under the reign of Pius XII anyway. It is hardly part of the ancient Roman Rite. It was devised by committee just like the Mass of Paul VI.

One thing I learned from modernists, they never give up. That's why I will not stop, faithful Catholics need to keep raising their voice demanding the Faith be taught and practiced by the heirarchy clearly and without compromise. It is not merciful to violate existing liturgical law just like it isn't merciful to tell adulterers that they can remain in their state without amendment of like and go to communion with mortal sin on their souls. It's all evil. It's the first sin, pride. What did Satan tempt Eve with? She doesn't have to obey those rules, she can do what she wants to do. Times haven't changed.

Anonymous said...

This is a meaningless practice and complete waste of time that should be discontinued ASAP. There is absolutely no benefit for me to sit in the pew and observe how the priest is sprinkling a little water on a man's or woman's foot. This is play acting just as the reading of the passion becomes when the priest takes the role of Christ. Nor do I like to have to read the lines of the Jews howling for blood. Maybe I need to find a FSSP Triduum celebration in hopes of avoiding the nonsense. Can someone tell me if the same play acting takes place in the old rite?


Paul said...

If Pope Francis cannot be given a pass for washing feet as Pope perhaps Jorge Bergoglio can be given a pass as a human being.

Jesus was crucified under the law to satisfy those enforcing the law.

Women have a calling to service as well, though some do not serve well. Perhaps the washing of women's feet will increase the number of callings and quality of service.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:41. You answered my question. I'll start searching for an FSSP liturgy for the Triduum. I'll have to deny myself the Vat 2 theatrics . Unless I can find a priest as I had years ago who understood that there was no merit to the foot washing circus. JBS also provides a very good option.


Anonymous said...

"Jesus wept." Yikes...Jesus had some "emotion"? How liberal....!

Anonymous said...

Our priest washed the feet of 12 men. I personally don't think it's appropriate for celibate men to be washing and kissing the feet of women. There is no evidence that Christ washed the feet of women and in fact 'once upon a time' it was said the feet of the apostles, the 12 gathered in the upper room, whose feet were washed. Hence the reasoning behind St John Paul II The Great and Benedict XVI washing the feet of priests as opposed to the more showy style adopted by Pope Francis.

I know we live in the age of anything goes and modesty is virtualy considered prudish these days, but one man was up on the alter in shorts having his feet washed and I don't think it does anything for the dignity of the liturgy, less so for women in short skirts as apparently you do see. With the ordinary form of the Mass it is being turned more and more into a side show. The same thing goes with the baptisms during the Holy Saturday Mass where those to be baptised have to stand in paddling pools and have urns of water poured all over them.

The parish I attended was as good as it gets for the ordinary form for Holy Thursday and Good Friday but I have resolved to go to a parish with a traditional tridiuum next year because the more downtrodden and ordinary the liturgy becomes the few attend - six people remained for adoration after the Mass on Holy Thursday a huge decline and I think the liturgy can be blamed for it.


Paul said...

Complexity, shades of gray and "The Law".

The Modernists, The Permissives, Those Not Of Good Will are going to do what Free Will Choice will allow.

What they are all going to try do is make Christ's Church appear so complex and nuanced that (much like our secular laws) only those entrusted with the law can understand it -- not interpret it, *understand* it. Is it so surprising that many Catholics do not understand their faith? My Catechism is seven-hundred and fifty-six pages. We have reams of Encyclicals and writings, books and Sacred Tradition. Christ's Church has the depositum fidei. We have The Magisterium and The VIcar Of Christ to guide us. If Catholics do not understand their faith is the solution to throw more paper at them?

Look at today's complexity yet two thousand years ago a dying condemned man next to the dying Christ was able to express and do *exactly* what is required in one sentence.

Anonymous said...

It's not about washing women's feet. It's about a pope violating an existing liturgical norm, setting a bad example by doing this and causing scandal to some. All without cause when he could easily chnge the rubric, but he doesn't, he prefers to violate it. This is about a man that speaks and acts imprudently and because of these "theatrics" all of a sudden people that HATE the Catholic Church adore this man. Why? Is it because they see him as someone upholding the teachings and practices that under popes like Benedict and John Paul they despised or is it because they percieve that like them he doesn't believe them either? Christ was despised by the world for his manner of life nd teaching and He said that those who followed Him would have to endure the same. This pope is adored almost like a god by the actively practicing gay community, NARAL, the liberal main stream media, etc. They embrace him and what he is saying. They aren't changing their lives and repenting of there sins because they don't feel they have to. Why is that? Right now Christians are being persecuted if they don't go along with the gay agenda in this country. Businesses are being forced to close and people are being threatened and Rome is silent. But climate change and acceptance of adultery and sodomy seem to be high on the list of priorites. Something is wrong and it is very obvious what it is.

Православный физик said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I agree with Anon.

When Pope Francis was Cardinal Bergolio, he abused the Mandatum when he did NOT have the authority to do so.

Rationalizing Liturgical abuse is a rather sad state of affairs. (In Byzantium, we reserve the Foot-washing to the Bishop)

The Pope is not God, nor should he act like God. I'd argue that the Pope is subject to the laws of the Church, unless he changes them (as he is supreme legislator)....As such yes, it is a Liturgical Abuse...and of course no one has a right to abuse the rites of the Church.

I also agree that the Mandatum should be eliminated from the Liturgy. It would be no big deal if he a. changed the law. or b. do so outside of the Liturgy....but knowing what the law is and doing something different is wrong, and everyone here knows it. Obviously if one is physically unable to do something, God does not expect the impossible.

John Nolan said...

The change from 'poor people' (pauperes) to 'selected men' (viri selecti) was made in 1955 and copied into the 1970 Novus Ordo. Sixty years ago it would have been unthinkable for a bishop or priest to wash and kiss the naked foot of a woman. I still think it's scandalous (and I'm no prude) which is why I object to it. The ceremony should not be part of the Mass in any case; it was a dry run for the insertion of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and matrimony into the Mass which is such a feature of the Novus Ordo (and one which the Orthodox find objectionable).

Fr McDonald, the terms 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary' when applied to the forms of Mass have an entirely different meaning than when the same terms are applied to liturgical ministry. This was noticed at the time of SP and Pope Francis uses the terms 'Novus Ordo' and 'Vetus Ordo' which avoids this confusion.

By the way, when Tom Lehrer used the term 'opposite gender' for 'opposite sex' he was being facetious and got a laugh from the audience. Sex is biologically determined whereas gender is an artificial construct which can be assumed at will. Originally it was a grammatical expression but in these days of 'gender reassignment' its use is more sinister. Only the other day I was filling in a form and in the section marked 'gender' the choice was a)male, b)female, and c)not known. I crossed out 'gender' and inserted 'sex' and also scored out option (c)!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I might be wrong, but I think a bishop is to kiss the feet of those who have their feet washed. In the case of priests who are having their feet washed by the bishop, I think this has symbolic importance.

But let's face it, either way, a bishop kissing the feet of another man or of a woman has sexual innuendo for some. Fortunately, in today's PC climate it isn't as scandalous for a bishop to kiss mens' feet as it might have been in the past, although in the past everyone might have thought it but wouldn't dare say anything publicly.

Sooooo....I agree the Holy Father shouldn't change something liturgically without the right pastoral regard for those who need to know why he has changed it and if he changes it, he should then say any bishop or priest may follow his example.

It is one time a year that we do this, so I have no problems with it, but like the EF's Asperges and Vidi..., why not just make it a prelude and stop all the silly consternation over this?

Anonymous said...

Ok Father. Your reasoning for violating existing liturgical norms is that the pope does it so it's okay......and it's only oncema year.

So Pope Benedict would only distribute communion to people who are kneeling amd on the tongue. So any priest now has the right to follow his lead and violate the liturgical norms of the Church which allow for people to receive in the hand. And what does justifying it bcause it only happens oncema year have to,do with anything. Can a man cheat on his wife if it's,only done oncema year? What other norms of the Church can a priest violate at will once a year? Your arguments are not based on reason. You can't justify what is happening by using reasonable argumentation that I know you were taught in the seminary. That is the logical conclusion to your reasoning because it it totally based on your personal preference and emotions. It reminds me of the disgusting mid synod relatio that stated people living active homosexual sex lifes have something to add to the life of the Church and we have to accept that. It couldn't be supported with scripture or any teachings of the Fathers or the saints because it is based on emotion not on truth.

John Nolan said...

There can be no objection to using the older rite's Asperges (plus the older prayers) in a Novus Ordo Mass since this precedes the Mass. It is also permissible (since 1967) for the priest to wear a chasuble. However, the sung Introit must follow the Asperges and not precede it.

Kissing in a liturgical sense has no sexual connotation whatsoever; in a Solemn Mass the deacon kisses both the priest's hand and whatever he is handing to him, and the MC should do this in a Missa Cantata. Only in 1965 was this old tradition scrapped.

Therefore a bishop kissing the foot of a cleric, or a Mother Superior kissing the foot of a nun has no sexual connotation. Only a perverted mindset which celebrates homosexuality could conceive of this.

In St John's Gospel when Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus) anoints Our Lord's feet and dries them with her hair it is possible to infer a sexual attraction on her part. When Pope Francis kissed the foot of a former Miss Italy contender gaoled for credit card fraud can one infer a sexual attraction on his part? Surely not, but anything that might suggest a cause of scandal should certainly be avoided. Not least when it happens in the context of Mass - where it shouldn't be in the first place.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, Pope Benedict modeled many things that he did not legislate, the most obvious the kneeling for Holy Communion from him and also the older traditional arrangement of crucifix and candles (which technically goes against the GIRM in terms of blocking the view of the congregation.

I would say there are a number of parishes where the pastor now has a central crucifix. This is novel in the post-Vatican II era of the 1970 Missal.

Many places now allow communion keeling but of course respecting the norm in the USA to stand. As well as the norm to allow either on the tongue or hand, even if kneeling.

At St. Joseph, we use the full lenght of the altar raling at our 12:10 PM OF Mass, People may kneel or stand, most kneel and most continue to receive in the hand even when kneeling.

At all our other OF Mass, the Communion ministers stand behind the railing and people come up individually and receive either standing or kneeling the choice being theirs.

What popes model does impact parishes. Some like it some don't depending on what is modeled but not legislated.

Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,

I'm curious what you mean about the cross. The GIRM does say that the candles, which may be either on or around the altar, should not obstruct the view of the congregation. However, there is no such qualification expressed in the GIRM concerning the cross: "There is also to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, either on the altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation".

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

I'm assured by usually reliable sources that in the United States and in some others nations, such as Australia, it was the approved custom not to kiss the hands of the priest during Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, I think it is true that prior to Pope Benedict, the central altar cross did not exist on most altars of the world. It disappeared even at St.Peter's and under the reign of Pope Blessed Paul VI, on the papal altar were only six very short candles and no crucifix whatsoever.

It was under Pope St. John Paul II that that the short stubby candlesticks were replaced by four taller ones and a large crucifix on the Gospel side of this altar.

Most parishes throughout the world had a central crucifx behind the freestanding altar or a processional cross to the side of the altar, but never on the altar itself.

Pope Benedict began to model the central crucifix on the altar shortly after becoming pope and with his new MC Msgr. Guido Marini. Many complained about this arrangement, not so much because of the placement of these, but because Msgr. Marini chose the largest of candlesticks and crucifix as well as returning the "bishop's" central candle in all on a straight line on the altar, thus blocking the view of the pope for the cameras and those in the nave of St. Peter's when the pope was at the altar.

Pope Francis I presume is the one who ordered a shorter crucifix, still centrally placed on the altar with the candlesticks arranged more at an angle (although the angling of the candlesticks occurred occasionally under Benedict) and the bishop's candle placed to the side rather than centrally.

In our diocese I don't know of any parishes except my own there is a low flung central crucifix on the altar facing the celebrant. It may be more common elsewhere.