Why Did Jesus Choose The Last Supper To Wash the Feet Of His Apostles?editor
For those of you thinking that this is a tad too politically correct to be in line with Our Lord’s purpose of washing the feet of His apostles, and with the mind of the Church when including this ritual in the Liturgy on Maundy Thursday, the following article entitled The Washing of Feet on Maundy Thursday, by Ernest Graf, O.S.B. – extract below – will be of much interest:
“The ceremony is an integral part of the ritual of Maundy Thursday, and should not be omitted wherever the day is observed with full liturgical splendor. The ritual is simple, but varies somewhat according to different countries.
The bishop, or celebrant, is vested in a purple cope, assisted by a deacon and subdeacon in white dalmatics. The deacon begins by singing the Gospel of the Mass (John, xiii. 1—15), which contains an account of Our Lord’s washing of the Apostles’ feet. The celebrant then puts off the cope and a white towel is tied round his waist. Kneeling in turn before each of the “apostles,” he washes the feet (or the right foot) with water poured out by the deacon, wipes the foot with a towel and kisses it. When he has washed the feet of all, he washes his hands, resumes the cope, and chants the beautiful prayer in which he prays that the Lord God Himself would help him worthily to imitate His own example according as He commanded, to the end that, even as by this ceremony external and purely material stains are washed away, so the sins that are within may be blotted out from the souls of all. These words sufficiently explain the twofold purpose of the rite: on the one hand, we obey Our Lord’s injunction to do to one another what He first did to His Apostles, and secondly, the rite is no mere imitative gesture devoid of spiritual virtue, for no rite of the Church is ever barren; on the contrary, it is a sacramental, endowed with spiritual energy for the cleansing of the soul from such lighter sins as are symbolized by the dust that clings to the feet of a wayfarer.” (Emphasis added).
Click here to read entire article on the history and significance of the Washing of the Feet on Maundy Thursday.
So, is it correct to argue that Jesus would be fine with the Pope or any bishop or priest using the Maundy Thursday washing the feet as an act of symbolic charity or mercy, or as a way of portraying “a more inclusive Church” – or would He have a very different perspective on the matter?
It’s just yet another “feel good” gesture from our “humble” pope. In striking contrast, I must say, to his admittedly justified affront when he was pulled over by the “pilgrim” at the last open air Mass/fiasco. I was struck then by the Pope’s outrage on the “assault” on his person, compared to his indifference to the many outrages committed against the Body of Christ at the same venue.
This is just another stunt to please the masses. All the world’s a stage, etc.
I wonder how many parishes have recruited members of non-Christian religions to participate in the washing of the feet this year, or will do next year.
As often happens those who wish to attack The Vicar of Christ misquote, and misrepresent what was said and why.
The full report and the full video of The Pope being “pulled over” show that the insistent “humble” pilgrim was endangering not only The Pope, but a child with disabilities in front of him.
Now in humility, would you a woman who reluctantly voices her views on the humility of others, act to save a child and correct the person endangering them?
If that were true, the Pope would have spoken a tad more gently to the offender. He lost his cool. He is known to have a temper. Why do you persist in defending him no matter what?
I am not defending him no matter what. I am advising some people not to attack the visible leader of The Church on a false premiss. It is wholly self defeating and unworthy of a loyal Catholic.
There are too many absolutely justifiable grounds on which to criticise this pontiff that nobody has to grasp at a false premiss. And don’t try the “loyal Catholic” stuff. Any Catholic who determined to be loyal to this pope instead of being loyal to the Faith, is no Catholic at all – priest or not.
I personally would argue such criticism should be aired privately.
However, if there “many absolutely justifiable grounds on which to criticise this pontiff that nobody has to grasp at a false premiss” is it not a tad foolish to use a false one. The story of the boy who cried wolf comes to mind.
The Pope lost his temper. If anyone should remain silent it is the people who try to pretend he didn’t.
He didn’t. He tried to call a selfish pilgrim to their senses so as not to endanger a child, or others.
If there was a fire would you whisper for fear of upsetting people, or raise the alarm?
Please, give it a rest. You constantly fail to address the point. OBVIOUSLY the person who grabbed the pope and refused to let go was endangering him and the child in front of him. That was not the point. The pope reacted angrily – and on one level I don’t blame him, and on another, he must bear some responsibility as he encourages such behaviour. The point I was making, which you have ignored, for whatever reason, and which I would have thought was crystal clear, is that his reaction of anger against the indignity and danger posed to himself and to the child was in stark contrast to his lack of concern for the indignity and blasphemy to which Our Blessed Lord was exposed during the same event.
Fr, you are very quick to question others’ humility and Catholicity. It gives the impression that you are attempting to stifle honest discussion, which I’m sure is not your intention.
And please, don’t argue that criticism should be aired privately. It has been. Many times. For years. Without success.
“It gives the impression that you are attempting to stifle honest discussion, which I’m sure is not your intention.”
I wish I had an ounce of your charity!
It’s my humility Editor – I’m just soo proud of it..
He asked the “humble” pilgrim to be sensible more than once, and the risk to the child increased. Get real woman!
Once again you ignore the main point. I wonder why that is?
I have not ignored the main point. A child was in danger. The Pope reacted.
Do you so dislike, and disrespect, The Pope that you prefer an headline that read “Child killed in accident involving The Pope”? That is an odd thing for a “loyal” Catholic to appear to wish for.
You continue to ignore the point I was making, and have made repeatedly, which I will repeat once again. My disgust is not with the pope for losing his temper and berating the idiot who pulled him over, it is with his corresponding lack of anger at the disrespect shown to the Blessed Sacrament, which he witnessed, along with the millions watching all over the world. Your silence on that matter is very odd from a “loyal” Catholic priest, but I’m going to take your advice and “get real”; I accept that you don’t wish to give a clear denunciation of the practice of distributing mass communions to hordes of grabbing communicants, despite the resultant sacrileges. So be it.
The incident with the child was not during Holy Communion as far as I am aware, and is totally irrelevant. You accuse The Pope of losing his temper when he was acting out of concern for others.
I’d like to see him lose his temper out of concern for the treatment meted out to the Blessed Sacrament, but I suppose to some that is irrelevant. Not to me.
It’s not just members of non-Catholic and non-Christian religions that Pope Francis is including in the Maundy Thursday washingof the feet, but women as well. This erroneous gesture is then twice-radical and very far removed from liturgical integrity. It is yet another outrage that will doubtless be greeted with joy and praise by the enemies of our holy religion. Imagine a Pope thinking he can improve on Our Lord’s charity and mercy with his own innovations? It beggars belief.
The article by Fr. Graf makes clear three things: 1. The ceremony was not part of The Holy Mass. 2. It was centuries bebefore it became widespread. 3. It took place in Cathedrals and Monastic Houses (that is, not every Parish).
On this very blog in February, a thread relating to the Rorate Caeli interview, with Archbishop Schneider, deemed to be the most orthodox and traditional auxiliary Bishop, highlighted his understanding that 1. The Mandatum was not part of The Mass until 1950. 2. It was, and remains, optional. 3. It distracts from the central themes of Holy Thursday which are the institution of The Priesthood, and the institution of The Holy Eucharist.
It seems odd that any “Traditionalist” would bang on about something that is not wholly part of Tradition, is optional, and distracts from things central to The Catholic Faith: The Priesthood and The Eucharist.
I can’t think why any such “Traditionalist” would. Can you?
You misunderstand the key point, as it would appear does Bishop Schneider. It is not whether the mandatum is part of the Mass or not that is the issue. It is that Our Lord chose to wash only the feet of His first apostles at the Last Supper which is being commemorated on Maundy Thursday. THAT is the issue. That IS Tradition, and it is therefore not at all “distracting” from the priesthood. Our Lord knew what He was doing when He chose that setting and those men for the ritual. The Pope has no right to decided to “improve” on what Our Lord set in place. He was wrong to change the ritual for political ends.
Are you saying that when Jesus celebrated The Eucharist in The Upper Room it was only intended for those in the room, as that is the only logical conclusion your statement can lead us to. The washing of the feet was only part of the whole action, and so…
Bishop Schneider and I are making the same point. Don’t make a point, or even a weapon, about something not central to our Faith to attack The Chief Shepherd.
Male only priesthood IS central to our Faith. The washing of the feet within a ritual which has traditionally celebrated the institution of both Mass and priesthood, is aimed at underlining the nature of the priesthood – not only that priests are servants of God and people, but men only.
Why can’t you see the obvious? Traditionally, the sermons on Maundy Thursday have been ABOUT the Mass and priesthood. Don’t try to confuse things by picking on a side issue which is not relevant. Talk about taking things out of context. You fail again to join up the dots. The Mass was NOT restricted only to those present at the first Mass – the Church made that clear. But the priesthood is reserved to men only – again because the Church has made that clear.
What’s not to understand? It is all crystal clear to the Catholic mind.
The laying on of hands is the essential part of ordination. If the washing of feet was part of it it would feature in an ordination ceremony, and it does not.
Further, as the host was extending to his guests what he said had been denied him by his host when the woman washed his feet. Don’t confuse Jewish culture, or non essential rites, with The Catholic Faith, and The Sacraments.
We are not talking about ordination ceremonies but about the Maundy Thursday ritual of washing of the feet of 12 men, at at Mass which is always centred on remembering the establishment of the first Mass and the priesthood.
Don’t YOU try to place Jewish culture and the theories of certain scripture scholars above the Church’s decision to place the washing of the feet in that context for a purpose – the Pope had no right to change that ritual. Absolutely no right.
If it was central to the Institution of The Eucharist, or ordination, please explain why : 1. it was not common, or widespread for centuries, mainly as Fr Graf says limited to Cathedrals and Monasteries. 2. Why it remains 100% optional. 3. Was not introduced to The Mass until 1950? 4. Does not feature in every Mass and Ordination?
You are not reading what editor has written. She is making the point that it is the male-only part of the washing of feet that is important – not whether it is integral to the Mass etc. You are not seeing that.
Fr. Graf says that the Mandatum is an integral part of the ritual of Holy Thursday. Just because it was added later doesn’t make any difference.
The fact is, as editor keeps pointing out to you, there is a reason why Jesus chose to perform the action with his first men, the 12 apostles and why the Church kept up that tradition by choosing only 12 men to mark the institution of the first Mass and the priesthood.
I think the key thing you are missing is that whether or not it is optional, when it IS performed, it has to be only 12 men.
As The Rite is optional, and was not part of the tradition of The Church for centuries, and even then in Cathedral Churches and Monasteries, doesn’t it seem odd to bang on about it? Unless the motive is to attack The Pope, and not to speak on a matter of justice or of the faith?
Fr. Graf actually says that the Mandatum is an integral part of the ritual of Holy Thursday. It is another re-creation of the events of the Last Supper signifying Our Lords love and self abnegation. When performed reverently and with the accompaniment of music such as the beautiful Ubi Caritas it is hardly a distraction but a powerful meditation.
He wrote before it was incorporated into The Mass, cites no source or rubric that says it was mandatory outside of a Cathedral or a Monastery. He is expressing an heartfelt personal view.
The Church Universal, and, the much lauded Auxiliary Bishop Schneider, say it is not mandatory.
Again, you miss the point. Do you think it is right for the Pope to include women, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, etc. in this action which Jesus performed with only his first priests when he instituted the Mass? Whether it is mandatory or not, even if only optional, should the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday include the above groups?
After all, if the Pope just wanted to wash the feet of the above groups to show his humility and preach that all religions are equal, he could organise a special washing of the feet for them at a different time. Why would he pick the one time which commemorates the washing of the apostles’ feet at institution of the first Mass and the priesthood?
The Priest, any priest, who performs The Mandatum is not saying anything about himself, but acting in the person of Christ. The Pope in no way is calling attention to himself in performing a symbolic act in persona Christi.
We both know that what you say is false. The Pope did not perform a symbolic act in persona Christi, he performed a symbolic gesture in persona Francis, and that gesture was both anti-liturgical and in opposition to the Gospel example of our Divine Saviour, the true persona Christi act.
None of the above addresses what I see as one of the main points at issue in this latest pontifical action. Dom Graf points to the incontrovertible fact that the rite is a sacramental.
‘…the rite is no mere imitative gesture devoid of spiritual virtue, for no rite of the Church is ever barren; on the contrary, it is a sacramental, endowed with spiritual energy for the cleansing of the soul from such lighter sins as are symbolized by the dust that clings to the feet of a wayfarer.’
According to CCC 1670
‘Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.’
The washing of feet, being a sacramental whereby (as is the case with all sacramentals) venial sins might be remitted from the souls of WELL-DISPOSED MEMBERS OF THE FAITHFUL, the question arises as to just what Pope Francis intended to accomplish in washing the feet of pagans and heretics. Just as an unbaptised person cannot receive the graces conferred by a sacrament, neither can they benefit from those potentially conferred by sacramentals.
In the past, the poor whose feet were washed in this ancient and beautiful ceremony were baptised Catholics, capable, if their dispositions were good, of receiving great graces. The Pope has reduced this ceremony to an empty facade. Therese might well be right in her estimate at the head of this thread – it’s just another of his publicity stunts, or he might, in his ecumenical zeal, simply have failed to understand the great spiritual significance of the rite, or consider it worth preserving in its grace-conferring form.
Displaying a crucifix and using Holy Water to bless yourself are sacramentasl. Anyone can see, and venerate, a crucifix, and I frequently see parents/grandparents/guardians use Holy Water not only to bless themselves, but in making the sign of the cross with/on unbaptised children who accompany.
Therefore, the use of a sacramental may involve no action on the part of some: such as the sight of a crucifix, or still be validly used by another on another, as in the example of the use of Holy Water with unbaptised children.
However, there is nothing to suggest Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sacramental. and nor does The Rite suggest it is in The Mandatum.
Sacramentals have particular value for everyone but more especially for those, who for whatever reason, that cannot participate fully in the celebration of The Sacraments.
Further, no matter which way you look at it the action has a patchy history in liturgical use, and it is optional.
The Vatican Commentary on recent changes highlights that it was, at first, celebrated in Cathedral Churches, and Monasteries, and that based on the Instructions of Pius V in 1570 “the absence of an instruction to have ‘twelve’ would seem to indicate that what counts isn’t just imitating what Jesus did in the Upper Room but rather putting the exemplary value of what Jesus did into practice, which is expected of all his disciples”. (Archbishop Roche, The Congregation for Divine Worship.)
Did you get withdrawal symptoms over Holy Week and Easter not being able to come on here and ‘enlighten’ us with your ‘wisdom’? I notice your re-entry was pretty quick!
So? Anyone can look at a crucifix. So? A parent or grandparent can sprinkle holy water over children, including unbaptised children. So? What does that prove? Tony Blair and Bill Clinton both received Holy Communion while Protestants – so? Seeing people DO something, doesn’t mean that they are receiving the graces of the sacrament or sacramentals. You – as ever – masterfully miss the point.
In any case, time to call out your insistence that the Mandatum is something new, or that it is “optional” – not according to the Twenty-second Council of Toledo in 694, where the observance of the Mandatum is mentioned as a recognised custom as part of the Holy Week liturgy on Holy Thursday, and is enforced under penalties. Not such a patchy history, after all. And definitely NOT optional.
And it’s taken you a while but I’ve been waiting for your final remarks about the “exemplary” value of what Jesus did” blah blah.
Yip. We could all get down and wash the feet of our neighbours, people of all religions and none, to indicate either that we are their servants or that we are humble (once the cameras are in place) but that is NOT the issue. It’s not whether or not we, as Catholics, Pope Francis, as pope, should serve others blah blah.
It’s about context. Remember that? As someone has already said, Papa Francis could wash feet any day of the week – why not do so when he joins the Lutherans to celebrate their schism next year? That would be the perfect context for someone who thinks, as he clearly does, that it is important to conduct a symbolic expression of the fact that all religions are equal; that would be the context for him to go about the place washing the feet of members of non-Catholic religions.
But the Mandatum on Holy Thursday is about the traditional washing of the feet of 12 men at a Mass which marks the institution of both Mass and priesthood. You keep ignoring that but that is the nub of the matter.
Address it without using ridiculous terms like “optional” and “patchy history” – even if true, those arguments would be irrelevant. Direct your defence to the rationale behind the Church’s liturgy of the washing of the feet at an annual Mass traditionally marking the institution of both Mass and priesthood. And why the Pope would use that occasion to wash the feet of people of both genders and non-Catholic religions. Well?
I quoted The Vatican, in the person of Archbishop Roche, on the exemplary actions of Jesus, and that same document says The Mandatum became more widespread in the 7th Century, as you too say. However it also says that the practice was applied differently in different Diocese. and that for centuries Bishops and Abbots washed the feet of the clergy/monks, and that there was no requirement for there to be 12. That comes with Pius Xll.
The US Bishops wrote, in response to the recent change: ” it has been part of the liturgy since at least the seventh century, though it tended to be emphasized most in monastic settings. There, it would have naturally been reserved to clerics, and different communities had varying customs regarding the time of day and the location of the ceremony. However, at least from the seventeenth century, there were also customs in some places of washing the feet of the poor on Holy Thursday, and with the Holy Week reforms of Pope Pius XII, it took on a more public role in the evening Mass of that day.”
You are still banging on about the history of the Mandatum and not on its symbolic purpose re. Mass and priesthood.
Editor asked you to address that but you are not doing so. In my book, that means you lose the argument. The Pope should not have abused his position by appropriating a Catholic rite, a sacramental, for PC ends.
The Congregation for The Liturgy on The Mandatum:
” Nor must it become so important as to grab all the attention during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated on «the most sacred day on which our Lord Jesus Christ was handed over for our sake» (i.e. Communicantes of the Roman Canon for this Mass). In the directions for the homily we are reminded of the distinctiveness of this Mass which commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, of the priestly Order and of the new commandment concerning fraternal charity, the supreme law for all and towards all in the Church.”
And Auxiliary Bishop Schneider, in February 206: “As concretely to the innovation of washing the feet of women during the Holy Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday: This Holy Mass celebrates the commemoration of the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Therefore, the foot washing of women along with the men not only distracts from the main focus on Eucharist and on Priesthood, but generates confusion regarding the historical symbolism of the “twelve” and of the apostles being of male sex. The universal tradition of the Church never allowed the foot washing during the Holy Mass, but instead outside of Mass, in a special ceremony. ”
The Vatican and The Bishop both make clear that The Mandatum is not the significant event on Holy Thursday, and as I said earlier if The Mandatum was intended as being central to The Holy Mass, and Ordination, it would take place whenever The Holy Mass, or an Ordination, was celebrated.
I have not missed the point. It is those who use an act, in imitation of Jesus Christ, to attack his Vicar on Earth that have done so.
The Mandatum is optional. Public acts of respect for The Pope are not.
You ARE failing to answer the question.
Whether optional or not, whether introduced in the first, seventh or twenty seventh century, the issue is this: WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE POPE USING THE WASHING OF THE FEET ON MAUNDY THURSDAY, USING WOMEN, HINDUS, MUSLIMS, PROTESTANTS. WHY DROP THE CUSTOM OF 12 MEN AT A MASS TRADITIONALLY MARKING THE INSTITUTION OF THE MASS AND PRIESTHOOD ?
Answer or drop the subject. Nothing else is relevant. For as long as you dodge the question, I will pose it so you are not going to have the last word on this, that is a given.
I think that I have established that until the 7th Century The Mandatum was not universally practiced. From about the 7th Century it was more common in Cathedral Churches and Monasteries – mainly with The Abbot or Bishop washing the feet of some clergy. From about the 17th Century the practice of washing the feet of the poor began. Not until 1955 was it required that 12 men be used, and that was for the first time during Mass. So until 1955 neither the requirement for 12 men, nor its public celebration, during Holy Mass required. If from the 17th Century the feet of the poor were washed Pope Francis had hardly introduced a novelty. The biggest, most recent, change came in 1955 when it was put within The Mass, and 12 men were required. If for almost 1,950 years it was not mandatory, nor were 12 men required, and nor was it during Mass exactly what is your issue?
The Mandatum was never central to public worship of The Church, at which the whole Church, including laity, was present until 1955, and has never been mandatory.
If it was central to either Ordination, i.e The Priesthood, or The Holy Mass, it would take place at every Mass, and every Ordination, and from before the 7th Century.
What is the significance of the Pope using the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday, using women, Hindus, Muslims, Protestants – why drop the custom of 12 men at a Mass traditionally marking the institution of the Mass and the priesthood?
The “tradition” of 12 men at Mass began only in 1955. The practice of poor people coming forward dates to the 17th Century. The Pope is being more faithful to an older “tradition”. For almost 1,950 years it was not during Mass, and 12 men were not required. It has never been mandatory universally. Exactly what are you not grasping?
What is the significance of the Pope using the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday, using women, Hindus, Muslims, Protestants – why drop the custom of 12 men at a Mass traditionally marking the institution of the Mass and the priesthood?
I see you reposted the same question, of 9.08 pm, at 10.37 p.m..
I will therefore repeat my post of 9.37:
“The “tradition” of 12 men at Mass began only in 1955. The practice of poor people coming forward dates to the 17th Century. The Pope is being more faithful to an older “tradition”. For almost 1,950 years it was not during Mass, and 12 men were not required. It has never been mandatory universally. Exactly what are you not grasping”
I would also add that The Mandatum has never been Mandatory, and was only becoming more common in the 7th Century. It was then most often celebrated in Monasteries and a Cathedral Church, with the Abbot, or Bishop, washing the feet of some clergy. !2 men were not “required” until 1955! There was, and is, not direct link with the celebration of Holy Mass, or Ordination. It forms no part of either ritual.
To recap: whether a “custom”, or “tradition” it is a late arrival in Church life, and worship. It has always been optional.
There are some things non Catholics would not, ordinarily, do at Holy Mass. One such example, is proclaim The Holy Scriptures. However, there is no reason, in Heaven, or on earth, why a non Catholic could not act as an Altar Server, take up the collection, or be one of a group of people chosen to take part in an entirely optional celebration of The Mandatum.
If it was central to The Roman Rite of The Church then one would expect it would have been the norm from the earliest times, and if it is central to the celebration of Holy Mass, or Ordination, it would be part of The Rite for every Mass and Ordination. It is a late development, entirely optional, and not part of the daily worship of The Church.
In another post, I highlighted the fact was the host at the meal, and referred to the incident where a woman washed his feet when the host, then, had made no provision. In other words there were cultural reasons for the washing, but Jesus was highlighting that he, and those who claim to follow him, should serve others.
It is ridiculous to use an optional ritual, in imitation of Jesus himself, to mock the Successor of St Peter, The Supreme Pontiff, and Prince of The Apostles.
Fr Arthur will go on about the history etc because there’s no answer to the question posed, except to agree that the Pope has detracted from the meaning of the Mandatum on Holy Thursday. Plus, he’s a liberal and really the liturgy isn’t that important to them. I found this quote on a website called Unam Sanctam Catholicam,
“It is no surprise that liberal Catholics have traditionally placed a low value on the quality of liturgical celebrations; not on liturgy itself, because progressives think liturgy is extremely important – that is, so long as it is an anthropocentric, horizontal affair. It is not liturgy per se they disparage, but liturgy done well – that is, liturgy that is transcendent and God-centered. “Why be so finicky about the liturgy?” they say. “There are more important issues to get upset about! Issues like poverty, war, abortion and social justice!” Unfortunately, it is also common for conservative Catholics to hold dismissive attitudes towards the liturgy as well, adopting a minimalist approach that the externals of liturgical action are dispensable, can be discarded or changed without consequence, that all that matters is having a valid Eucharist, etc. Similarly, the charismatic movement tends to foster an attitude of undue casualness in the presence of the Lord. All of these are deficient approaches to the Sacred Liturgy.”
Sorry, Michael should be Michaela! Transgenderism on the Catholic Truth blog. LOL!