Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thou Shalt not Wash the Feet of Women. Ick!

I was going to write an entry bitching about the "communion babes" at the local Novus Ordo parish handing out ashes along with the parish priest to about 100 folks tonight. Why they need three people to distribute ashes to such a small number I have no idea. Where the deacon was during this I have no idea. But I have decided not to bitch about that, instead I wish to bitch about Maundy Thursday, which will be here before you know it.

Every year the issue comes up, and every year at my Novus Ordo parish, and at countless Novus Ordo parishes, the feet of women are washed, despite what Rome has written on the subject in the past.

Here is what the Sacramentary says: 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.

This is what Paschale Solemnitatis (the circular letter on Holy Week issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) says concerning this: 51. The washing of the feet of chosen men 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." [58] This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.

Many people have decried that the USCCB has said it is allright to wash the feet of women.

And they have said that. Here: Because the gospel of the mandatum read on Holy Thursday also depicts Jesus as the "Teacher and Lord" who humbly serves his disciples by performing this extraordinary gesture which goes beyond the laws of hospitality,2 the element of humble service has accentuated the celebration of the foot washing rite in the United States over the last decade or more. In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world. Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service. 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.

This is the ambiguous way of saying "...we know it's wrong, but we're going to do it anyway."

Let me remind all priests in the Scranton Diocese and abroad: The USCCB is NOT an American Vatican. Nothing the USCCB has written in regards to this customary washing of the feet carries a Recognitio from Rome, hence, it doe's not carry force of law. And since Rome HAS issued a statement, namely Paschale Solemnitatis quoted from above, I certainly hope and pray that all priests will take the Vatican's word and prohibit women from the washing of the feet at the upcoming Maundy Thursday Masses.


Anonymous said...

Dear Rockin'Traddy,

I generally follow and enjoy your blog. However, today, I object to the language and general hostility of this piece of blogging. I object to the use of the phrase 'communion babes' and your desire to ‘bitch’ about it. I take offense with your statement. If it weren't for women who were willing to serve as lectors and extraordinary ministers of the eucharist where would our churches be today? I submit to you that there are many more women attending Mass, especially on a daily basis, then men. In our Church during daily morning Mass, it is the women who serve as lectors. As you mentioned in your blog, where was the deacon? I agree that if a deacon is present, he should be handing out the ashes. This goes for lectoring as well. However, I believe that GIRM (General Instructions Roman Missal) states that if a deacon isn't present then anyone (woman) can serve as the lector.

I, myself, never really thought about the presence of women at the washing of the feet. I have never seen women have their feet washed at this ceremony. I always accepted it as a 're-enactment' of the events at the Last Supper. However, I, as a woman, and a practicing Catholic, felt wounded by the general tone of your blog.

In charity, try to put yourself in a woman's position in regards to the Church. I definitely feel left out from serving in a higher capacity in the Church. I would love to be a deacon, not to become a priest, but to serve my local Church, which, as you will agree, is in dire need of sacramental ministers these days. I do serve as a lector at my Church. It really has been hard, all my religious life, to realize that “I’m just the wrong sex.”. God made me. My soul is like your soul and that is what will be judged in the end, NOT my anatomy!

So my question to you is this, do you really believe that Jesus would deliberately and pointedly neglect to include the women who were in his company during this Passover meal??? Maybe he felt that the women who accompanied Him and his apostles and saw to the needs of the group were already practicing 'service.' Maybe, he felt that his apostles needed a really good demonstration of humility and service because they were not practicing it and He wanted to drive the point home.

If you go to the Old Testament, the Passover meal was for everyone in the family. It was for the FAMILY to prepare for deliverance from the Angel of Death, hence the name Pass Over. What I'm objecting to is not the fact that the New Testament record has Jesus washing men's feet, but that the Church and you and others seem to feel that no woman is worthy of this act. You appear, by your writing to put us in an inferior position to the men in the Church. As an old Jewish saying goes, God counts the tears of woman! And you have made me so sad by thinking that I and my fellow women parishioners aren't somehow 'worthy' to have our feet washed or distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday.

As I said previously, I’m a Catholic and I follow the rules of the Church. You call yourself a Traditional Catholic, yet where was your ‘charity’ in that blog?? And you have the audacity to urge the priests of the Diocese of Scranton that they shouldn’t follow the USCCB and “prohibit” women from the washing of the feet. Yet it’s OK for us women to take home the towels and linens used in this ritual and wash them for all you guys. How do you think all those altar linens get clean anyway?? There aren’t any more nuns to do it, so the women of the Altar and Rosary Society do it. Again, I repeat, the Maudy Thursday ritual it Jesus making sure all you MEN get the message about humility and service. As a means to atone for insulting Eucharistic Ministers and other women in this blog you should, on Maudy Thursday, forgo the washing of the feet if you are chosen and humbly offer to take the towels and linens used in the ritual home with you and wash them, iron them and return them all neat and folded.

You don’t have to post this on your blog. Just wanted to let you know how I felt.

St. Mary's of Dorrance parishioner

The Rockin' Traddy said...

Hello St. Mary’s of Dorrance parishioner!

Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry that you object to the “language and hostility” in this post.

I have often thought that I need to be on radio, and not be a blogger because you cannot hear the smile in my voice and spring in my step when I post. Perhaps I will follow the lead of my friend the Catholic Caveman and put a little warning of harsh language ahead when the situation warrants.

Something you need to understand about this blog is that this is my no Spin Zone. It is also a No BS zone, and above all, a no political correctness zone. I don’t have the FCC telling me what I can and cannot say yet, and until they do, it shall remain that way.

Now to your points, I was not singling out women, because male EMHC’s annoy me just as much. And how the lectors came into it, I don’t know. I think you are being a tad sensitive here. Could it be you are an EMHC as well?

Let’s take a look at what the USCCB says about EMHC’s, shall we? My own emphasis

When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, priest, or deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, priests, or deacons. If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, "the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, i.e., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may also depute suitable faithful for this single occasion (GIRM 162)."

So let’s say Father peeks out of the sacristy 5minutes before Mass, and there are 600 people filling the Church. If he is saying Mass alone, this would be a good reason to use an EMHC. (In my opinion there is never a good reason to use an EMHC.)

But let’s say Father peeks out of the sacristy. There is about the normal crowd of 150 people there. There are 3 EMHC’s on the schedule, and they currently are busy “vesting”. This is probably a good time to send them back into the congregation for today because they are not needed.

But nowadays, we are finding even more for them to do. Now their duties have expanded to include handing out ashes, blessing throats on St. Blaise day (!) and who knows what will come next? Maybe they’ll be confecting the Eucharist next week, I don’t know.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know my views and the views of centuries worth of Popes and Councils on unconsecrated hands touching the Eucharist.

Here’s a few:
T. SIXTUS I (115-125). Prohibited the faithful from even touching the Sacred Vessels: "Statutum est ut sacra vasa non ab aliis quam a sacratis Dominoque dicatis contrectentur hominibus..." [It has been decreed that the Sacred Vessels are not to be handled by others than by those consecrated and dedicated to the Lord.]

POPE ST. EUTYCHIAN (275-283). Forbade the faithful from taking the Sacred Host in their hand.

ST. BASIL THE GREAT, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH (330-379). "The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in time of persecution." St. Basil considered Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to consider it a grave fault.

COUNCIL OF SARAGOSSA (380). It was decided to punish with EXCOMMUNICATION anyone who dared to continue the practice of Holy Communion in the hand. The Synod of Toledo confirmed this decree.

POPE ST. LEO I THE GREAT (440-461). Energetically defended and required faithful obedience to the practice of administering Holy Communion on the tongue of the faithful.

SYNOD OF ROUEN (650). Condemned Communion in the hand to halt widespread abuses that occurred from this practice, and as a safeguard against sacrilege.

SIXTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, AT CONSTANTINOPLE (680-681). Forbade the faithful to take the Sacred Host in their hand, threatening the transgressors with excommunication.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274). "Out of reverence towards this sacrament [the Holy Eucharist], nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament." (Summa Theologica, Pars III, Q. 82, Art. 3, Rep. Obj. 8)

COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1565). "The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition."

POPE PAUL VI (1963-1978). "This method [on the tongue] must be retained." (Apostolic Epistle "Memoriale Domini"

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1978-1994). "To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained. (Dominicae Cenae, sec. 11)
"It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another." (Inaestimabile Donum, April 17, 1980, sec. 9)

So when exactly did the Holy Eucharist become less than what it was? What happened to the Sacred Body of Christ that now anyone can touch him?

As far as Communion in the Hand goes, are you aware that Protestant denominations beginning with Martin Luther in the 16th century re-introduced Communion in the hand to manifest their belief once and for all that there is no such thing as Transubstantiation and Holy Orders, and the bread used during services is just ordinary bread, and the minister is just an ordinary man with no God-given power to consecrate?

The line between clergy and laity is becoming clouded, he have EMHC’s touching the Body of Christ, blessing people, acting like priests. They are not. It must stop.

As far as your comment “And you have the audacity to urge the priests of the Diocese of Scranton that they shouldn’t follow the USCCB and “prohibit” women from the washing of the feet.”

Um, yeah. I do have the audacity. As I wrote, the USCCB is not the American Vatican, although they have tried their best to set themselves up in one down there in D. C.

Yes, St. Mary’s of Dorrance Parishoner, I have the audacity to ask the priests of the Diocese of Scranton to follow what Rome has put down as the law of the Church.

And what a wonderful Church it would be if they all did.


Anonymous said...

Roaming Catholic writes: When I was teaching CCD (8th, 9th, 10th grades) in the 90's, I always taught that on Holy (Maundy) Thursday Christ instituted two Sacraments: the Priesthood, and the Holy Eucharist. The NEWCHURCH Priest(s) that ran the parish I taught at wanted the word "discipleship" substituted for the word "Priesthood", hence emphasizing the role of both genders in the NEWCHURCH, and legitimizing the washing of both men and women's feet; when I told the clergy that the official Church teaching was only on the Priesthood, I was nicely rebuked. To this day, through websites like EWTN, etc., the Church teaching (men's feet only; Priesthood of Jesus Christ) still holds. Since I now roam, I notice some Priests don't even do feet washing. After all, it is an option.

The Rockin' Traddy said...

Very good point Roamin'! I forgot about the essentials of Maundy Thursday, and that is the Last Supper where the Eucharist and the ALL MALE priesthood was established.

Sorry ladies, that's just the way it is...

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

I just stole part of this posting as a response in one of my comments boxes.


You're a lifesaver!!!