Holy Thursday Mass


#1

So this is a really idiotic question - I grew up Catholic, but never in my life have I attended a Holy Thursday mass, and I'm planning to this year. What exactly takes place? I know washing of the feet is involved, but who gets their feet washed, how is this incorporated into mass, etc...?


#2

It kind of depends where you are at. By the book, after the homily the priest removes his chasuble and will wash the feet of a group of people representative of the parish (a catechist, a pastoral council member, a youth group member, etc.). Ideally, this should number 12 people to be symbolic of Jesus's washing the apostle's feet at the Last Supper. Some places, however, will invite the whole congregation or whoever wishes to come up and have their feet washed. I have even been somewhere where the foot washing was replaced with hand washing (although this is not in keeping with the rubrics for Holy Thursday).

Other than the feet washing, the mass is pretty normal until the end, when the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to an Altar of Repose usually outside the Church. It is a pretty cool event and I encourage you to attend the entire Triduum... best liturgical time of the year, IMHO.


#3

First of all do you mean Maundy Thursday? Rather than Holy Thursday because that would be the week after Easter Day.


#4

[quote="englishredrose, post:3, topic:319685"]
First of all do you mean Maundy Thursday? Rather than Holy Thursday because that would be the week after Easter Day.

[/quote]

In the States, Holy Thursday comes before Good Friday and Easter. Maundy Thursday isn't used in Catholic circles.


#5

[quote="englishredrose, post:3, topic:319685"]
First of all do you mean Maundy Thursday? Rather than Holy Thursday because that would be the week after Easter Day.

[/quote]

Nope; that's Easter Thursday. Holy Thursday is the same as Maundy Thursday and is the Thursday of Holy Week.


#6

In the washing of the feet, should the twelve be men or men and women?


#7

[quote="lakotak, post:6, topic:319685"]
In the washing of the feet, should the twelve be men or men and women?

[/quote]

Twelve men. That means, twelve male human beings.


#8

[quote="porthos11, post:7, topic:319685"]
Twelve men. That means, twelve male human beings.

[/quote]

I am aware that the term men means male human beings. I was asking because in the past there have been women involved with this at my parish. I was asking if it was appropriate for women to be chosen. That was all.


#9

[quote="lakotak, post:8, topic:319685"]
I am aware that the term men means male human beings. I was asking because in the past there have been women involved with this at my parish. I was asking if it was appropriate for women to be chosen. That was all.

[/quote]

I made the clarification just so that no one confuses it with man="all humankind". The official Latin instruction specifies twelve viri, which literally means men, as in males and excludes women.

It is therefore illicit to wash the feet of women during the Mandatum.


#10

[quote="porthos11, post:9, topic:319685"]
I made the clarification just so that no one confuses it with man="all humankind". The official Latin instruction specifies twelve viri, which literally means men, as in males and excludes women.

It is therefore illicit to wash the feet of women during the Mandatum.

[/quote]

This was my understanding. Thank you.


#11

[quote="porthos11, post:9, topic:319685"]
I made the clarification just so that no one confuses it with man="all humankind". The official Latin instruction specifies twelve viri, which literally means men, as in males and excludes women.

It is therefore illicit to wash the feet of women during the Mandatum.

[/quote]

When we first moved into this diocese several years ago, we went to the nearest parish for Holy Thursday. We came from an area that had never washed women's feet, so I was amazed at first at the number of women who had on sandals. It became abundantly clear to me why that was so, though, as everyone in the pews went, row by row, to have their feet washed. Since I had dressed up for the occasion, as was the norm in the area we had moved from, I was caught in pantyhose and heels. (Of course I would have declined anyway!) This is a sad story......sad for the abuse in the liturgical norms, but even sadder to see dirty socks and tennis shoes in the aisles as the children scrambled to put them back on. As it was taking too much time, so the kids left the altar barefooted and sat in the aisles to get dressed. I'll never forget the picture of such disrespect and impiety. (Of course, the kids weren't to blame.)

We of course, never went back to that parish, but they have the same priest there...wonder what he'll do this year?


#12

[quote="sumusresnovarum, post:4, topic:319685"]
In the States, Holy Thursday comes before Good Friday and Easter. Maundy Thursday isn't used in Catholic circles.

[/quote]

Sure it is. We use it at my parish all the time. Holy Thursday became more commonly used in the U.S. after the turn of the last century, with the arrivals of many Southern European immigrants. However, Maundy Thursday is still used, especially where the influence of England, Canada and other English-speaking countries is still great.


#13

I think that you should check out the USCCB Mandatum, as it seems to contradict the fact that those to have their feet washed must be men.

"While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men ("viri selecti"), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, "who came to serve and not to be served," that all members of the Church must serve one another in love."

My reading of this text seems to allow for both genders to be represented in the feet washing ritual.


#14

[quote="sumusresnovarum, post:13, topic:319685"]
I think that you should check out the USCCB Mandatum, as it seems to contradict the fact that those to have their feet washed must be men.

"While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men ("viri selecti"), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, "who came to serve and not to be served," that all members of the Church must serve one another in love."

My reading of this text seems to allow for both genders to be represented in the feet washing ritual.

[/quote]

I would want to know how the USCCB has the authority to change this particular rubric as there is no exception specified in the universal instruction. Any exceptions must be approved by the Holy See and there is no evidence to that. Given that the Sacred Liturgy's governance is reserved to the Holy See except for parts expressly handed to the bishop or episcopal conference (which this rubric hasn't), I fail to see how that Q&A has any authority trumping that of the Roman Missal itself.


#15

I don't see the inclusion of women as a "changing of the rubrics." That said, I was under the impression that their notes had come from a committee from the Vatican, and not from the USCCB themselves. Upon further study, it seems that I am mistaken on this front.


#16

[quote="sumusresnovarum, post:13, topic:319685"]
I think that you should check out the USCCB Mandatum, as it seems to contradict the fact that those to have their feet washed must be men.

"While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men ("viri selecti"), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, "who came to serve and not to be served," that all members of the Church must serve one another in love."

My reading of this text seems to allow for both genders to be represented in the feet washing ritual.

[/quote]

And you have found what, IMHO, is THE most oddly worded item ever to appear on the USCCB website. It gets discussed here every year.

The USCCB does not have the authority to change the rubric to include both men and women (or girls and boys). So, you will notice that the passage you are quoting doesn't quite go so far as to say it is "allowed". It simply acknowledges that this is a wide-spread practice and says that (whoever wrote that piece) ":understands". It's just kooky.

It is basically like a non-inforced law. It's illicit, the Bishops know it's illicit but they are letting us know they aren't going to actively try to stop it.

To the OP: Holy Thursday seems to bring out a driving desire on the part of those planning the liturgies to "experiment". Try to focus on the beautiful parts and tune out the wacky parts. You should be able to expect two great things in the Mass. 1) The ringing of the bells when they sing the Gloria. 2) usually a very nice homily about the Eucharist.


#17

As far as the name of the day, I said Holy Thursday because that's always what I've heard (in the US). I never had even heard the term "Maundy Thursday" until about a year ago. The internet seems to agree with me... catholic.org/clife/lent/thurs.php


#18

On the other hand, some parishes don't even do the footwashing at all. Although most parishes do include it, is is optional.


#19

Indeed, the issue about whether the priest should wash the feet of men only or men and women is so contentious that many parishes, at least where I live, simply omit the rite of the washing of feet. It's optional anyway, but it really is too bad.

I can understand why the foot washing is traditionally reserved to only men. Think of how unseemly it may have seemed in the past for a priest, living under his promise of celibacy, to touch the body of a woman.


#20

Our priests have solved this problem by washing the (well-precleaned) feet of 12 altar boys. Used to be 12 ushers/KofC guys, but I think they didn't like having to sit on the altar steps (too hard to get up and down. :))


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.