Maundy Thursday: The Washing of Feet, Priesthood & an Ecumenical Imperative

Over at Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment, the good Father gives us a salutary refresher course in the real meaning of the washing of feet—what he terms the pedilavium in literal translation, but what we more commonly refer to as the Mandatum, the commandment. Or rather, he offers several meanings—for footwashing as a more general symbolic act such as king to his subjects; as a liturgical act within fairly strictly limited parameters such as an abbot with his monks; and (a relative novelty in the liturgical context) as a symbolic act of mercy and welcome to all, especially the marginalized, which is the only way to explain decently his allowing women’s feet to be washed on Maundy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

For what Fr Hunwicke rightly reminds his readers is that in its original context—Jesus at the Last Supper—the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday has a very particular meaning. The Lord Jesus did not wash the feet of his disciples per se, of whom there were many even then, though soon they would mostly melt away till after the Resurrection. Jesus washed the feet of the Twelve, the apostles including Judas Iscariot who Jesus knew was about to betray him (cf John 13). Jesus was in the upper room with his intimate circle, those (save for Judas who was about to break communion) whom he would shortly commission and send forth into the world to preach the Good News and repentance (for this is what the Greek word apostolos means, one who is sent with a message). Continue reading “Maundy Thursday: The Washing of Feet, Priesthood & an Ecumenical Imperative”

An Anniversary and a Discovery

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is the tenth anniversary of my priestly ordination, at least in terms of the civil calendar, ie 14 April. In liturgical terms I was ordained on Sabbato in albis, ie the Saturday within the Octave of Easter, which will be 22 April this year. Keeping this liturgical dating will allow for a more festive recollection and thanksgiving.

Yet, the Day of the Cross is not such a bad one to have even such a modest anniversary. Continue reading “An Anniversary and a Discovery”

Coptic Solidarity during the Triduum

The massacre inflicted in Egypt by Daesh on our Coptic brethren at worship in their churches on Palm Sunday is still fairly fresh in our minds. The first bombing was inside a church at Tanta, on the Nile delta, during the Palm Sunday liturgy, killing 27 and injuring or crippling 78 people. Soon after was a blast at the Coptic pope’s cathedral in Alexandria, again during the liturgy but at the entrance to the church as the bomber had been stopped by police. 17 people were killed, including three police officers, and 48 injured. Pope Tawadros was not injured.

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The aftermath of one of the bombings (Stringer/AFP/Getty image)

Continue reading “Coptic Solidarity during the Triduum”

Clericalism and culture

The perceptive among the regulars here will have noted that I have a mild mania at the moment for a long-time favourite Catholic writer and theologian, Frank Sheed. Recently circumstances have only afforded occasional dips into the charming yet vigorous memoir of Frank and his wife, Maisie Ward, by their author-son, Wilfrid Sheed. Taking a stroll in the 20+˚C sunshine, said memoir in hand, Wilfrid had arrived at the narration of the family’s move, early in World War II, to the United States to found an American outpost of the family publishing concern, Sheed & Ward, but which was to become home for them all. Wilfrid begins this section by explaining the difference between the Catholic Church in England and in the States in the 1940s. It bears extensive, though necessarily selective, quotation here: Continue reading “Clericalism and culture”

Good timing

This morning, the eve of Palm Sunday mind you, the Vatican announced several new appointments, including the one excerpted below. Love it or hate it, the Vatican has a playful sense of timing.


A blessed day to you all.

By Stushie

Filial piety

So many matters are worthy of attention at present—Cardinal Sarah’s latest treatment of the Church’s liturgy, for example, or Martin Mosebach’s searching critique of the modern liturgy recently renewed; Dubiagate; the infamous demotion of the papal nuncio to Ireland.

But when one is in a strop (probably only Poms and Aussies will get the meaning of that word in this context) it is best to leave weighty matters aside lest one’s true feelings be too forcefully expressed.

So instead, let me recommend a book. It is not in print but easily obtainable at a reasonable price secondhand. I have not yet finished it but already I think it one of the best biographies I have read. Continue reading “Filial piety”

A friend reminded me today that at the bottom of any blog post there appears an advertisement. These will change from day to day, visit to visit. I have no say in what ads appear, indeed I never see them. The ads are be based not anything to do with me, but on WordPress’s priorities or even the reader’s browser history. WordPress says it filters ads for offensive or illegal material, but one might reasonably suspect that my definition of what constitutes offensive might be a little more stringent than WordPress’s definition.

My friend has reminded me that clergy especially need to be careful about what they might unwittingly be associated with. Also, there is my monastery to think about.

So, with a little family help, I am paying a small monthly fee to WordPress to remove the ads completely. This gives me peace of mind. An added bonus is that the upgrade includes a domain name for the blog, so here is a chance to utilise something more memorable for the blog’s web address.

So from now my readers, both of you, can also access this blog at hughosb.com. The old address still works, however.

If I am lucky the upgrade might even solve my formatting issues.

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