Saturday, March 30, 2013

No Feet instead an offering for the poor

I used to wash the feet of women because I merely saw it as a sign of service and then the Holy See clarified the theology of it and issued its decree that only the feet of men should be washed, as it was a sign of Christ serving the disciples (really the Apostles). It is a sign about the Church and Christ's service of it, rather than a general sign of charity, it is very much a sign ad intra rather than ad extra. From a Russian friend I understand the Patriarch of Moscow washes the feet of twelve Moscow bishops, which seems entirely appropriate, the Apostles were after all bishops. It was also appropriate that formally the Bishop of Rome should wash the feet of twelve priests of his diocese.
In my mothers homeland, that bit of Northern Italy that became the Yugoslavia, it was the custom of my grandfather, and the heads of most households, to wash the feet of his family and farm workers, the practice I understand continued even under Tito's Communism. In England before the Reformation the monarch used to wash the feet of the poor, and in at least one Benedictine Abbey I know Mother Abbess washes the feet of the whole community in the Chapter house, in the Liturgy the chants are sung but the priest washes no-one's feet. Formerly it seems it was a ritual for those in authority to exercise with their subordinates.
This year I have found bending, even walking rather painful, it is passing now but Wednesday I had to use a stick just to walk into Church, so as it was physical painful and difficult to do, but also because of doubt about the Law raised by the Pope, frankly I just didn't want the hassle I had trying to get people to accept the change in the Law, especially as most of the local brethren do any feet available. So I decided that as it was optional we would opt not to wash feet. I never have a list and just invite men to occupy the 12 seats put out by the servers. It is the first time I haven't done it.
As the choir had prepared the Mandatum, and as I stress the 3 collections of the Triduum, for the poor, the Holy Places and on Easter Day for the clergy, in our diocese it is an important part of the PPs income, so I asked the servers to place the bowl and towel before the sanctuary and invited people to come up and place their offering in the bowl. The money was for the poor, we will give it to the local Coptic Church as a fraternal act, to be used to help the Christian refugees from Egypt, recently 250 families have arrived in Brighton fleeing for fear of their lives.
Afterwards someone said it was a little more "meaningful" seeing a bowl full of notes, a sign of the effective charity from the community for members of our extended community.


Anonymous said...

It is the Orthodox custom for a bishop to wash the feet of his priests at this service, or for an abbot (or abbess) to was the feet of his monks (or her nuns). The symbolism is as you say.

Anagnostis said...

God bless you and your parish, Father.

No doubt certain recent events were conceived as an opportunity to make a startling and radical statement to the world; but that's not what the Liturgy is for. Celebration of the Mysteries is no part of the public proclamation of the Gospel, but belongs to the inner life of the Church. Forgetfulness of this basic distinction is at the root of all liturgical degradation, consequent dogmatic confusion and evangelical failure "ad extra".

There was a great deal of wisdom in "The doors, the doors!" The non-baptised simply should not be admitted to the celebration of the Mysteries - and that would include the press and the cameras. As I keep insisting, the Constantinian era is over, so no doubt we'll soon be back to doing our own things in secret again, whether we like the idea of that or not.

At least the Sacred Liturgy will no longer be a mere theatre for crude agitprop.

NBW said...

Thank you for the post Fr. Ray. Have you tried the spice Turmeric for joint pain? It works quite well.

Anonymous said...

Cinnamon (yes, really) is very good for warding off arthritis, if that's what it is.

Pablo the Mexican said...


Here is an example for us all on Priestly fortitude.

Padre Bolduc had everything cut out of him that could be cut out.

He had Cancer ravaging his body like a wildfire.

He slept two hours per night for years.

He tirelessly gave the sacraments to the dying day and night; many times he would drive many miles.

This sermon was given several days before he died.

The Holy Angels must have had a fight on their hands trying to take him from his duty of the Salvation of Souls:

God bless the Holy Father and all His Priests, Nuns, and Religious.

Please note the calmness in his voice.

This Padre was in great pain without taking painkillers.

May God hold him in His bosom.

Requiescat in pacem


John Fisher said...

Yes Fr Blake what a good post. Why didn't the pope was the feet of bishops? Bishops their priests? Priests male parishioners. then in a non liturgical devotional setting heads of families their family. Employers their workers. Kings their subjects.
Yes I have no problem with the pope wsahing feet or better doing any of the 7 works of mercy/ Let him visit hospital and do nursing.. change nappies. But not in the liturgy!
I wonder if the pope has considred his behaviour mere tokenism?

Genty said...

A Happy and Blessed Easter to you Father and to all.
Re the aches and pains, it may be worth looking at your diet to see if there is anything triggering them. There are so many additives we are now absorbing.
I've found that, as I've got older, certain carbohydrates are a no-no.

Supertradmum said...

Good post and sorry about your state. I have been retreating at Tyburn and was invited by Mother General to have my feet washed, as she washes all the nuns' feet, an old, very old, Benedictine custom. Bernard of Clairvaux encouraged this custom in his monasteries.

It was very moving and private, done in the cloister. I, normally a tough bird, was moved to tears. Then, Mother kissed my foot. Too much, but the symbolism of service in the community, as intra, as you state is very clear. Thanks for sharing this and giving me the opportunity to comment.

BJC said...

If its going to be done, feet washing the way the Patriarch of Moscow is doing it in your photo would be my preference. Its a powerful catechetical moment. The way I got taught it Holy Thursday is about three things:

- The institution of the Apostolic College and the priesthood
- The institution of the sacrament of holy communion
- The institution and saying of the first Mass by Our Lord

By using Bishops (or at least male religious) I think these points get emphasised particularly the first. In these days of bad catechesis and bad ecumenism I don't think these points can be stressed enough. Who knows, it might even persuade a few non-Catholic Christians we are using the bible after all.

The problem with using lay people to me is that it panders to the worlds expectations. It skips over the supernatural and historical origins of the Church. The only reason we can give service to the poor is because of the supernatural graces of the mass and the Apostolic teaching handed down to us by Our Lord. Its through the eucharist we can eat our pride and give service to the poor and that's why Christ gave us the mass. We need to make that clear.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this inspired writing. I love how how used creative thinking to revolve a dilemma re foot washing. Most of all, I pray you will be in much less pain as the Easter season progresses.

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