In other news, you may recall last year during Lent I included in the bulletin an explanation of the Church’s directive in the Holy Thursday liturgy that men only be selected for the washing of the feet. I also stated that I would be following this directive unless of course the Pope changed the rule. You may recall that Pope Francis himself has not always followed this liturgical directive in the various unique places that he has celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that at the end of January, Pope Francis made an adjustment to the rule, permitting women as well to participate in the washing of feet. See an excerpt from the article from Vatican Information Service below:
Vatican City, 21 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter, dated 20 December and published today, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he decrees that from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men and boys.
The Pope writes to the cardinal that he has for some time reflected on the "rite of the washing of the feet contained in the Liturgy of the Mass in Coena Domini, with the intention of improving the way in which it is performed so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus' gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity".
"After careful consideration", he continues, "I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen".
From now on in our parishes, in accordance with Pope Francis’ modification to the liturgical norm, we will attempt to have a cross-section of parishioners for the washing of feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.