We will keep this brief because Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has already covered the topic very well in Foot washing on Holy Thursday. Wherein Fr. Z rants. and POLL: 2015 Holy Thursday Foot Washing Rite – what happened?
Last night at St. Peter’s there was no Foot Washing Rite. Our Pastor did speak in length about the account in the Gospel according to St. John and the washing of the feet. As Fr. Z notes:
In the Roman Rite, the washing of feet on Holy Thursday is an option. It may be left out without disturbing the integrity of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper (otherwise, it wouldn’t be a legitimate option).
If my wife and I recall correctly, there was a Foot Washing Rite at St. Peter’s last year. We suppose we can list this as one of the new changes to what had been the status quo ante. Also, we had an alternative Eucharistic Prayer (not one of the regular four). My best guess is that it was Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I. There are two points that we would make here:
- The departure from previous inclusion of the Foot Washing Rite left me without the more tangible inspiration that I normally experience by witnessing the Rite. The experience was similar to my observations in the post Were You There? Having said that, I must admit that it is far more preferable to go without the Rite than to witness it when it abused in the manner that we have seen in other Dioceses. Even if our Pastor chose the minimalist option, at least he closed the door on abuse.
- The absence of the Foot Washing Rite and the use of an alternative Eucharistic Prayer tend to cause discontinuity and distraction. The Liturgical Year is meant to be cyclical. Each year we encounter anew the deep mysteries of our Faith. Each year we have the opportunity to ask ourselves if we have grown in our understanding. The three-year cycle of readings enrich the Liturgical Year by providing different perspectives, without changing the focus or disrupting the continuity. In my mind, it would be helpful if the Pastor avoided introducing discontinuities and distractions.
I may have overstated the thought when I posted Were You There? and said that I felt as if I had been written out of the script at the Passion on Palm Sunday. Yet, after Holy Thursday Mass, I drove home thinking that perhaps I might be in the state that St. Peter would have been in if he had refused to let Jesus wash his feet – “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Our Pastor exercised his rightful option and there is no objection from us. Meanwhile, I will continue to follow Christ through the Triduum towards Easter morning and I will continue to do my best to come to the end of my life without “dirty feet”.