Why not barefoot while celebrating Holy Mass


#1

Dear Friends,

In Exodus 3:5, God said to Moses to remove his sandals from his feet, for the place where he stand is holy ground. At the altar, since Jesus is present, isn’t it a similarly holy place? In that case why do the celebrant and altar servers not remove their shoes when they are at the altar ?

Peace and Love in Christ.


#2

[quote="kuttapy, post:1, topic:338756"]
Dear Friends,

In Exodus 3:5, God said to Moses to remove his sandals from his feet, for the place where he stand is holy ground. At the altar, since Jesus is present, isn't it a similarly holy place? In that case why do the celebrant and altar servers not remove their shoes when they are at the altar ?

Peace and Love in Christ.

[/quote]

Although it does not answer your question:

The Missionaries of Charity Sisters do not wear shoes for Mass or prayer in their chapel. Those who are visiting the Sisters may remove their shoes before entering the chapel for Mass or prayer..

I don't know what the Missionaries of Charity priests do about shoes when they offer Mass.


#3

[quote="kuttapy, post:1, topic:338756"]
Dear Friends,

In Exodus 3:5, God said to Moses to remove his sandals from his feet, for the place where he stand is holy ground. At the altar, since Jesus is present, isn't it a similarly holy place? In that case why do the celebrant and altar servers not remove their shoes when they are at the altar ?

Peace and Love in Christ.

[/quote]

I know there is a theological reason behind this and I want someone to answer this

but I think priests wear shoes for a pratical reason. It is a common courtesy to wear shoes when at large gatherings like Mass. I don't think people want to see Fathers bare feet while he is celebrating the Mass.

the GIRM is silent about foot wear for the mass so there is nothing obligating him to wear shoes or not.


#4

Upon wearing the left shoe, the priest recites, May my feet, O Lord God, be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace so that I may tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy, for ever. Upon wearing the right shoe, he recites, Cast down under my foot, Lord God, all false pride that is exalted against Thy knowledge, and grant that by Thy help I may bring the lusts of the flesh into subjection, for ever.

In the Syriac Churches we actually have liturgical “slippers.” The entire theological idea behind it is that we’re assuming something that is not our own to render service to God (hence why secular clothes become covered by vestments). So no one is worthy to enter the sanctuary by his own right, but someone who has been conferred ordination and treads the path of servitude does so, and God’s guard on said servant is symbolic in the footwear.


#5

[quote="MorEphrem, post:4, topic:338756"]
In the Syriac Churches we actually have liturgical "slippers." The entire theological idea behind it is that we're assuming something that is not our own to render service to God (hence why secular clothes become covered by vestments). So no one is worthy to enter the sanctuary by his own right, but someone who has been conferred ordination and treads the path of servitude does so, and God's guard on said servant is symbolic in the footwear.

[/quote]

I'm not sure about the Alexandrenes, but the Armenian OC also maintains the use of altar slippers. The Chaldeans do not, and I don't know about the ACoE. Of course any vestige of them among the Maronites is but a distant memory.

FWLIW, "altar slippers" were at one time common also in the West too. (IIRC, I believe they could also be in simple black. Also, and again IIRC, they were not used by those regulars with footwear specific to their habit.) They gradually fell out of use, and these days I think, only survive among some Anglo-Catholics.


#6

In the Coptic Church no one wears shows in the sanctuary (this is the same with the Ethiopian Church). There are even specially made socks for the priest and servers. :)

In the Catholic Church in Korea, no one wears shoes. This, however, is because Koreans do not wear shoes in houses and the parish building is treated the same. :D


#7

[quote="Zekariya, post:6, topic:338756"]
In the Coptic Church no one wears shows in the sanctuary (this is the same with the Ethiopian Church). There are even specially made socks for the priest and servers. :)

[/quote]

Ah yes, of course. I'd forgotten about that. :o IIRC, even the congregation is generally discalced in church.


#8

You are correct (I was an Antiochian convert to the Coptic Church before coming into Communion with Rome.). :slight_smile:


#9

[quote="Zekariya, post:8, topic:338756"]
You are correct

[/quote]

Some years back, we had daily Mass at noon, and there were a couple of young Coptic Orthodox women who worked in the area and would come by regularly. Invariably, the shoes would be removed upon entrance. ;)

quote="Zekariya, post:8, topic:338756". :)

[/quote]

Yes, I know. ;) That's why, since mardukm and dzheremi are both on extended hiatus, you're my "point man" on things Coptic. :)


#10

[quote="malphono, post:9, topic:338756"]
Some years back, we had daily Mass at noon, and there were a couple of young Coptic Orthodox women who worked in the area and would come by regularly. Invariably, the shoes would be removed upon entrance. ;)

Yes, I know. ;) That's why, since mardukm and dzheremi are both on extended hiatus, you're my "point man" on things Coptic. :)

[/quote]


#11

In some cultures, shoes worn outdoors are considered unclean, and bare feet may not be thought much better of. This might account for customs regarding indoor slippers.

At home, I leave my shoes at the door. It is merely a practical matter, to keep the floors clean.


#12

Back to the OP: At the time of Moses, it was the cultural norm to remove one’s shoes in a holy place as an outward sign of reverence. Customs change over time.

If we think about it, every place that Jesus physically walked was literally touched by God, so should not large swaths of the Middle East be “no shoe Holy Ground”? Of course not. Our reverence and respect for God is shown by both our outward appearance (which is why the Priests and Deacons robe for Mass) and by our inward attitude as well.


#13

I’m certainly glad that we laypeople don’t have to be barefoot! I walk very badly without the support of shoes, and would probably have to stay away from Mass.

Yes, if someone asks me to remove my shoes before entering their home, I tell them I cannot and ask if they would prefer that I leave. It’s not fun, but I really don’t want to fall and get hurt.

I’m willing to bet that there are quite a few priests who have the same disabilities or similar disabilities as me, and therefore, would be unable to say Mass if the “barefoot rule” was in place.


#14

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