Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Let Us Share With One Another The Sign Of Pilate."


Today we celebrate the institution of the Sacraments of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Orders at the Solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper. At this Mass, the Gospel account of the Last Supper is that according to St. John. This is the only account that does not include the words of institution, but rather the washing of the feet of the Twelve by Our Lord. This shows us what the Lord does for us in the Holy Eucharist and by His Sacrifice upon the Cross.
The liturgy gives the priest celebrant the option of re-enacting this. The rubrics state that the priest is to wash the feet of men who have been chosen. (There is no number specified by the rubrics, but traditionally it is of twelve men.)
Unfortunately, some of my brothers think otherwise. In some places, in the name of inclusivity, women and children are chosen for the group. (Boston has specific permission from Rome to this. Likely so that poor Cardinal O'Malley doesn't have to deal with more grief.) In other places, the deacons and even lay ministers wash feet along with the priest. In a different abuse mode, there is a revolving conga line of foot washing: one person's feet are washed, they s/he washes the next, etc....
However, the one that drives me absolutely bonkers is practice of the congregation washing each other's hands. COME ON PEOPLE! Who washed hands during the Triduum? That's right, Pontius Pilate. Do we really want to emulate him?
The thinking behind these abuses is what is really the problem. First, like it or not the Apostles were men. This itself is a good reason to follow the rubrically restriction. Second, why would anyone but the priest need to do this. I think some of my brothers are embarrassed by their priesthood. Heaven forbid they should be able to do something that the laity cannot do. Third, anyone trying to bring 'creativity' and 'relevance' to the liturgy in this way should be beaten with an aspergillum until they recognize the difference between congregational hand washing and the washing of feet by the celebrant.
Sign of Pilate? No thanks.
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