I've been thinking about the new revision to the Holy Thursday ritual, allowing 'the washing of the feet of selected members from the entire People of God' - which would now officially include women. It's been a common practice for many years - though condemned by many faithful Catholics. Since Pope Francis 'violated' the rubrics, the same group has pretty much condemned the pope for it, and now with the current change, he's being condemned all the more. Accused of letting down those who fought to maintain tradition of reserving the ritual to Catholic men only. Whatever the case, the ritual was never obligatory, and before the Pius XII revisions, it was done outside of Mass. Thus, since the mid-20th century, the ritual has flexed and changed according to pastoral needs, one might say.
That said, I was wondering what the Church would have been like way back when - mid-20th century, if the pope would have began dressing down the papacy then? Got rid of all the fluff, pomp and ostentatious display? Drop the ostrich fans and all the majestic attire, get rid of the tiarra and elaborate copes and cappas? Only as much as St. John Paul II did, maybe? No - let's imagine it as it is - the papacy we have today. Simple, candid, direct, hands-on pastoral care. No palaces, no thrones, no elaborate kingly attire - a poor papacy for the poor.
Would the faithful of the 1950's have rebelled if all the smoke and shiny stuff had been stripped away? If the pope dressed down, if he lived more simply, and he wasn't so remote? What if the popes spoke using ordinary language, which non-religious people - even sinners understood? What would have happened? Did people go to Mass because of the rituals and vestments and splendid music and art and decoration? I hope not.
When history removed these things, say in revolutions and war, or situations such as internment camps and concentration camps, or even in the underground churches of anti-Christian regimes, did the people lose their faith and turn on the popes and bishops? That's hyperbole of course. What has it got to do with our time?
Back to cha-cha-cha-changes to the rituale romanum ...
Like I said - when I was little, it was a novelty - a curiosity. As it developed, it was often even more a novelty because sometimes liturgical dancers waltzed up the aisle with pitchers of water. And women got their feet washed and it was something more to bitch about. So I avoided it for a long time. I skipped Holy Thursday. When I got back to it - it still seemed a novelty - no matter where it was done. I have stories - but I'm sure you all do.
As Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated when discussing the liturgical history of the rite:
“The washing of feet is not mandatory,” he added, and pastors should “evaluate its suitability” in their circumstances. The rite should not be “automatic or artificial, deprived of meaning,” nor should it become “so important that all the attention of the Mass” is focused on it.
The “current change” to the foot-washing rite, which allows for the washing of the feet of selected members from the entire People of God, has changed the significance of the rite, Archbishop Roche continued. “The value now relates not so much to the exterior imitation of what Jesus has done,” and more to as his “gift of self ‘to the end’ for the salvation of mankind, his charity which embraces all” and offers an example. - Catholic Culture
I think it's already become so important all the attention of the Mass is focused on it.
I'm against it.
Mary Jo Copeland washing the feet of her poor at the center she founded thirty years ago. She doesn't do it to be symbolic, or as a ritual - she actually serves the homeless who often have foot problems because of poverty and or disease, and they actually need their feet washed. She works every day and takes no pay, her organization, Caring and Sharing Hands is an independent charity, not even affiliated with Catholic Charities. 92% of all money donated to Sharing and Caring Hands goes to the needs of the poor, only 8 percent goes to management and fund raising. The man washing feet with her is Fr. Joseph Johnson, her spiritual director.
When it comes to liturgy, my opinion doesn't matter of course, not even to me.