holy thursday

i am so so so confused now. there is different information everywhere on the subject.

does the foot washing ritual (which i understnad is optional) have to be men only? and if so, why?

i’ve heard that both are ok, i’ve heard they aren’t according to the rubric but the USA has permission, i’ve heard that permission was only given in a specific circumstance, i’ve heard that it’s supposed to be a symbol of service, i’ve heard that it’s linked to the priesthood (hwich is why it’s only men, though this doesn’t relaly make sense to me)

can anyone help clearit up please? what is the official position on the matter

also, using the logic that Jesus only washed men’s feet because the apostles were male, it can also be said that only males could partake of the eucharist. what would the difference be? and woulnd’t it be better to just wash the feet of cardinals or other clerics then? or seminarians? instead of just lay men? if it is a symbol of change in status to priesthood.

also, if the tradition were changed to include women, excuding pope francis’ one time thing last year, would it be wrong to do so? is it a tradition that can be changed? thanks

Our pastor is very conservative, a follow-every-rule-to-the-letter man. Last weekend he caught me on our way out the door after Mass and “volunteered” me for the foot-washing.

So my guess would be that it’s not wrong in any way to wash the feet of women.

And according to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, it does not symbolize an elevation to the priesthood but rather is a sign of Christ’s commandment that we should live one another.

I realize you are in Canada, but this is what the USCCB has to say: Holy Thursday Mandatum


it talks about there being a variation, but isn’t the law still unchanged. that’s the part that confuses me. is the variation actually permitted? and yeah, i’m in Canada and i’ve never seen it done here at all actually

Perhaps it might be better to say the rule, rather than the law. Law carries with it certain emotive responses which rule may not elicit.

Pope Francis last year clearly did not adhere to a law. He was sending a profound message about how we, as followers of Christ, are to treat others. Keep in mind that while he is a Jesuit, he also is profoundly influenced by St Francis; and St Francis in turn is profoundly about witnessing Christ to others. The apocryphal saying of St Francis is that he charged his friars to “Preach the Gospel; and if necessary use words.”

There are those who are of the liturgical opinion that the laws must be absolutely and rigidly adhered to, that it is and abuse if one does not, and they are generally of a germanic approach to law. The mediterranean approach is somewhat more relaxed. Those who take the germanic approach will not be assuaged until the law is changed; and then many of them will grumble that “the liberals had their way”. It is not about liberals and conservatives, however; it is about Christ. And Christ repeatedly bent, ignored, or openly violated many Jeiwsh liturgical laws - a point totally lost on the germanic types.

There is reason to do it only with men, as that more closely symbolizes the 12 apostles; on the other hand, it is not clear from the rule that one must use 12; and certainly using 12, even if they include women, sends both the message that this was done to the 12 apostles, and the message of the “why” - an act of profound humility, which doesn’t require that the person being washed be a man. Or an adult.

I don’t think the US has permission, it’s just that the USCCB decided to allow this variation but they didn’t submit that document to Rome for approval.

In Canada, in parishes that do the foot washing, you’ll often find that women are included even though the rubrics say men only. I’m one who believes that you ‘do the red, say the black’ and I worked hard to make the foot washing men only in my parish when I was involved in it. We succeeded for a few years but the new pastor insists on including kids and women too. But then he’s not much of one for rules and won’t even tell the congregation to kneel for the Consecration even though the GIRM requires it.

Question answered.


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