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Who may participate in the rite of the washing of feet during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper?

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The Roman Missal rubric in the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, under the title “The Washing of Feet,” reads:

“After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows. Those who have been chosen from among the people of God are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each one, and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them” (nos. 10-11).
At the instruction of Pope Francis, the rite of the washing of feet on Holy Thursday has been modified to lawfully permit a wider representation of the People of God to take part in the ceremony. The Holy Father’s decision has been made effective by a decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, dated January 6, 2016.

Until 2016, the relevant rubric in the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Roman Missal indicated that “The men who have been chosen [viri selecti] are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place.” Henceforth that text will read “Those who are chosen from among the people of God are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place.” In the Ceremonial of Bishops, this same text is also modified, as well as a rubric describing the items necessary for the Holy Thursday Mass: “seats for the men chosen” is changed to “seats for those chosen.”

Pope Francis explained in his decision that he had been reflecting on the foot-washing ritual for some time, and determined that it needed to better reflect “the significance of the gesture Jesus performed in the Upper Room, giving himself ‘to the very end’ for the salvation of the world, his boundless charity.” To that end, he ordered that the rubrics be modified to permit participants for the rite to be chosen “from among all members of the People of God,” and likewise insisted that those who are chosen receive an explanation of the meaning of the ceremony.

Carrying out the instruction of the Holy Father, the Congregation’s decree provides specific suggestions as to the nature of this representative group: men and women, young and old, healthy and sick, clergy, religious, and laity. The decree echoes the Holy Father’s letter by reminding pastors of their duty to help the faithful have a conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the ritual. The modification does not, however, change the fact that the rite is not an obligatory part of that Mass, but rather is something to be carried out “where a pastoral reason suggests it” (Roman Missal, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, no. 10).

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Written by Erineus

March 24, 2016 at 3:52 am

Why translation of liturgical texts must be accurate and inspiring?

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Liturgical language is important for the life of the Church. Lex orandi, lex credendi. In liturgy, the words addressed to God and the words spoken to the people voice the Faith of the Church. They are not simply the expressions of one individual in one particular place at one time in history.

The words used in liturgy also pass on the faith of the Church from one generation to the next. For this reason, the bishops take seriously their responsibility to provide for the faithful the ranslations of liturgical texts that are accurate and inspiring.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, in a 2008 speech to the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, to sums up the importance of this endeavor.

Written by Erineus

March 31, 2014 at 2:07 am