Quick Viri-Selecti Apologia

Pope John Paul II kisses the foot of a clergyman during the Holy Thursday ceremony at St Peter's

I thank the men who, as the real heroes of generosity at our parish Mass of the Lord’s Supper yesterday evening, submitted to having their feet washed by their overly intense pastor. They endured the most difficult task of the evening.

Now: Yes, the book (Missal) clearly indicates that men should be chosen to receive the ministrations of the priest in the footwashing rite. As the Lord Jesus washed the feet of twelve men at the Last Supper, so the priest.

The business admits of many different profound interpretations, and those who witness it draw spiritual fruit according to each person’s own unique interior life. The duty of the priest is to follow the instructions printed in the Missal.

Over my (soon to be ten) years as a priest, I have, with some reflection and practice, developed the way in which I wash people’s feet on Holy Thursday evening. I do not claim that it is a good way; I only ask that it be respected as the result of some extended reflection on my part. To be perfectly honest, I studied the way that Pope John Paul II did it, and I attempt to do it that way.

Yesterday, our Holy Father washed the feet of ten young men and two young women. May God be praised that we have a Pope, and a healthy and loving Pope.

Does this mean that the instruction in the Missal will be changed regarding who should be chosen to sit for footwashing? Only time will tell.

But in the interest of honesty, I feel obliged to say the following. I do not mean it as a judgment on anyone else; it is simply my personal sensibility:

I could not in good conscience maintain the manner in which I execute the footwashing rite if a woman were sitting before me. I do not imagine myself to be Brad Pitt on wheels. But neither am I eighty years old and altogether beyond the virile stage. I could not engage in the physical intimacy (which, to my mind, the rite demands) with a woman who was either married to someone else or unattached. It would be unbecoming for us both.

Okay! May the Lord bless us with a Good Friday full of graces.

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3 thoughts on “Quick Viri-Selecti Apologia

  1. Good point. Perhaps there are spiritually gifted women in your parish that might wash the feet of the women in your place. Or perhaps you might lead your parish in washing each others’ feet. I love what Pope Francis did yesterday, but what you are saying did occur to me. Christ, of course, allowed women to wash his feet and he was criticized for inappropriate activity.

  2. while you may be trying to avoid interpersonal contact with women, you are avoiding ministry to one half of the population. how is ‘hearing confession’ from a female any different if she presents a similar but verbal proximity? you state you tried to imitate pope John Paul II … and not Christ? so how can women expect to be ministered to? and why couldn’t your substitute priest have women in the foot washing? was it not the rule-watchers who criticized Christ? ~ those who wanted to follow, went thru the barriers of law, rule, etc with their Lord.

  3. “Now: Yes, the book (Missal) clearly indicates that men should be chosen to receive the ministrations of the priest in the footwashing rite. As the Lord Jesus washed the feet of twelve men at the Last Supper, so the priest.”

    This paragraph sums up the whole posting. Women are not slighted by not getting their feet washed. The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper makes that particular evening visible to us. On That particular evening no women had their feet washed. Our Savior washed the feet of 12 men.

    It’s time to for us to stop getting our feelings hurt if everyone’s experience isn’t exactly the same. It wasn’t then. It doesn’t need to be now. Jesus raised the status of women and broke societal convention in so many ways. He clearly showed His love and affection for women.

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