Can a Non catholic man have his feet washed on Holy Thursday?

I have a friend that wants to come in to the church and loves participating in Liturgical stuff…and it is a booger to find 12 men in the parish to have their feet washed. is it okay since he is not yet in full communion with the church to do so? Any of the Fathers here can chime in on this? or anyone ? :slight_smile:

Why wouldn’t it be okay? Feet washing isn’t a sacrament.

For sure, and will let him see more of the joys a mass can bring. I hope it goes well for y’all.

He can participate but probably should be dismissed after…that is, if it’s custom in your parish to dismiss the catechumens after the Liturgy of the Word (which it ought to be if you do RCIA properly). They should not remain in anticipation of the Vigil and sacraments of initiation. Is your friend getting baptized at the Vigil? If he is already baptized, it would be fine for him to stay for the rest of the mass.

You say it’s difficult to find 12 for the washing of the feet. It doesn’t have to be 12 men, it can be fewer, it can be women, children, elderly. Some parishes have everyone who wants to participate,washing each others feet. Its not about presenting historical accuracy but remembering Jesus’ command to serve one another. I find it very moving.

I just heard that in our Diocese it can only be men. I’m sure it probably has something to do with historical accuracy and the preference of our Bishop. The Bishops of each Diocese has the final say in their Diocese and each one may have a different opinion.

One of the twelve that participates in this at our parish will be a RCIA candidate. Our Pastor does it this way every year.


Actually, it has to do with fidelity to the Holy Father’s directives. :wink:

I’m sorry Anna, but it should be 12 men, nothing personal but the apostles were men. This is a reenactment of the actions Jesus took on that night of the Last Supper, it should be adult men.

We have a few in our diocese, one in particular I am thinking of, that has washed the feet of the entire congregation in the name of inclusion. We do more harm to the people by this line of thinking then if we would teach and practice the truth. They recently had a new pastor assigned and he stopped it, they now are doing what is recommended, 12 men. There was a loud noise for a while, both voices or anger and voices of rejoicing.

With that said, I am of the belief that once the person is in full communion, then they can be part of this; until then they should watch and yearn to be an “apostle”. It’s not a sacrament, but the action has significance, it has meaning. It especially has meaning in this Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This can be done outside of the Mass and wash everyone’s feet if you so choose, but in the Mass is a different situation all together.

My pastor makes it a point to have the men who have recently gone through RCIA and now are in communion with Mother Church, participate; but not until they have been through the process completely.

As far as the problem of getting 12 men, I would have to believe if the pastor approaches these men, they would accept.

Deacon Lapey…

The washing of the feet is not meant to be a historical reenactment. You mention the action has significance and meaning but you don’t talk about what that is.

This action is about humble service to each other, not only for or by men. It’s so much easier for us to simply stage a reenactment and wash the feet of 12 men only… but that is missing the point. It not suppose to be easy. I’m afraid that when done as a historical reenactment Jesus may be asking…“don’t you understand what I have done for you?!”

(side note…if you want to represent only the 12 apostles then maybe it would be more accurate to wash the feet of only ordained men)…

Jesus taught us to tie on a towel (so to speak) and gird ourselves in Christian service. That is what foot washing is about. Accepting the uncomfortable. Accepting an invitation to be uncomfortable and wash the feet of a parishioner,woman or man, who is not well liked, who may be ill physically or spiritually…anyone who chooses to come forward is the best way to do it…either to wash or be washed. It’s a very moving part of the liturgy.
No matter how a parish does this…keep in mind and heart what Christ did for us…we are to do for others.

As Jesus has done for us, so are we also to do…

The Apostles were not ordained yet at that point, and one of them (Judas) never was, having left before the Consecration and the commission.

Elderly men are still men. Boys are still men (although young men). They are not a different gender.

**Washing Feet on Holy Thursday

Can the priest wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday?**

According to the sacramentary, “The men vir] who have been chosen are led by the ministers to chairs prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers, he pours water over each one’s feet and dries them.”

In 1988 the Congregation for Divine Worship reaffirmed that only men’s feet are supposed to be washed: “The washing of the feet of chosen men vir] which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ (Matt. 20:28). This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.”–Paschales Solemnitatis, 51.

In both cases the latin word vir is used which means that men is not referring to mankind but only to males. Therefore, only men may have their feet washed on Holy Thursday. The practice of having the congregation wash each other’s feet is also not allowed as the instruction refers only to the priest as the washer of feet.

Who said they were a different gender? Huh?


You did. To quote you:

You say it’s difficult to find 12 for the washing of the feet. It doesn’t have to be 12 men, it can be fewer, it can be women, children, elderly. Some parishes have everyone who wants to participate,washing each others feet. Its not about presenting historical accuracy but remembering Jesus’ command to serve one another. I find it very moving.

Please don’t try to make it into the PC-talk of middle-aged men being preferred over all other groups.

Remember the Mandatum is a charge to all believers, even if the rite suggests “viri selecti.” (notice I said “suggests”…it does not say “must” which means some doors are still open)
This is important to reflect on:
‘When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again, he went back to the table. “Do you understand,” he said, “what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly, so I am. If I then have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you. In all truth I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.”’ (Jn. 13.12-16) …

Cardinal O’Malley of Boston makes a good point. "“I think the current placement of the Mandatum ritual (in the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper rather than in the Chrism Mass) indicates it is not about the iconography of clerical priesthood as such but discipleship more generally. If the powers that be want to make it about the former, it should be moved to the Chrism Mass. Or, why not do both, and incorporate the ritual into ordinations, elevations, and the like?”

I have no idea what point you are trying to make. Middle age men? What?
My point is that it does not have to be 12men, or 12 men and women, or all women or children…whatever…this does not have to be accurate in a historical way. it doesn’t have to be the number 12.

You are mistaken here Anna. This is exactly a reenactment of the evening of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus was and is in fact a man, He did the washing. The 12 were in fact His Apostles, whether ordained at this time or not they are in fact 12 men, who had their feet washed by Jesus, a Man. This is what the Liturgical guidelines show to be proper, and it should be followed. Unfortunately we feel it necessary to make the inclusion gesture when the event has absolutely nothing to do with inclusion. It has everything to do with the fact that these 12 were ordained this night to carry on the ministry of Jesus. Two Sacraments were instituted that night, the Priesthood and the Eucharist. Women were there; this is easy to see in scripture.

He charged the 12 to do as He has done.

So I ask you, why did Jesus not wash the women present; one of which was His own mother?

Second, why does it have to be everybody? Isn’t it enough to see the tradition continues, as it was in the beginning unaltered?

I ask you Anna, why do we have to change what Jesus did in order to help women feel included? The women I know and work with in ministry know and understand this is His Tradition we follow, not our modernist opinion. Why do so many insist on something altered?

The Washing of Feet (From the rubrics of the Roman Missal.)

  1. After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows.

  2. The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the Priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each one, and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them.

A priest does not have in his power to wash the feet of women and children IN THIS MASS. Outside of this mass, sure, go for it!

I was wondering how long it would take for this thread to get into a men/vs women’s feet. Every year in our parish it has been mostly RCIA canidates coming into the church…men and yes women. Does not bother me at all.

What is interesting is to watch people fight tooth and nail over this and miss so many other things… Like my parents…who insist it must be men…but then will insist that they are ok receiving communion without my stepmom’s annulment because that is just a “man made” rule. To me…making sure I am in a proper state of grace before receiving communion is much more important then the fact that the priest washed my feet last year…just saying…:shrug:

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