Jimmy Akin takes on the thankless task…

of trying to reason with hysterics shrieking in condemnation of Francis, announcing the End of Days, and threatening to apostatize over the fact that the Pope really is the Supreme Legislator of ecclesial law and can wash anybody’s feet he chooses on Holy Thursday.

The comments on Jimmy’s piece are a giant farrago of paranoia, angry condemnations, ignorant pronunciations of doom, rants based on rumor, legalism, phariseeism, and puritanism, punctuated by some attempts to call people back to reason and sanity.  It’s bleak stuff on a day when Christians have every reason to rejoice since Jesus Christ has conquered death and given us a hope so gigantic we should be doing nothing but singing.

Here’s reality:  “The rules” exist for man, not man for the rules.  They are subservient to the law of love.  The washing of feet on Holy Thursday is not a sacrament.  It is an optional rite that is rooted in a gesture done by Jesus in order to teach.

Teach what?  Well thereby hangs a tale.  For the gesture is, like most of the things Jesus says and does, polyvalent.  That’s a three dollar word meaning “It’s full of various meanings and a good teacher can emphasize which meaning he wishes for the sake of his audiences needs.”  In the text of John, it is obviously linked to baptism and the gesture can refer to the baptised.  It is also done for the apostles, so it’s possible to link it to the priesthood as has often been done.  And it is done in order to teach the necessity of becoming the lowest and the servant to all.  That is obviously what the Pope was meaning to emphasize on Holy Thursday.  No.  Really:

In response to the many questions and concerns raised over Pope Francis washing the feet of 12 young people at the Roman Juvenile Detention Centre on Holy Thursday evening, especially that two were young women, Fr. Lombardi has sent me the following information to be shared with you.

One can easily understand that in a great celebration, men would be chosen for the foot washing because Jesus, himself washing the feet of the twelve apostles who were male.  However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening in the Juvenile Detention Centre in Rome took place in a particular, small community that included young women.  When Jesus washed the feet of those who were with him on the first Holy Thursday, he desired to teach all a lesson about the meaning of service, using a gesture that included all members of the community.

We are aware of the photos that show Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who in various pastoral settings washed the feet of young men and women.  To have excluded the young women from the ritual washing of feet on Holy Thursday night in this Roman prison, would have detracted our attention from the essence of the Holy Thursday Gospel, and the very beautiful and simple gesture of a father who desired to embrace those who were on the fringes of society; those who were not refined experts of liturgical rules.

That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.

I once knew a priest who remarked that there are two distinct traditions of law in the West.  The Latin/Mediterranean tradition, which makes laws about everything and then comes up with all sorts of exceptions (canon law is a magnificent specimen of this conception of law); and the Anglo-Saxon tradition, which likes as few laws as possible and then insists on obeying them even when it’s stupid and counter-productive.  This, he remarked, explains American and Italian driving.  Americans stop at stop signs in the Mojave desert.  Italians… well, let’s just say that driving “laws” in Italy are more like guidelines.  It also explains why people from the Anglo tradition keep freaking out when the Church treats its own ecclesial laws in such a loose fashion.  They’re *laws* dammit!  You’re supposed to obey them no matter what!  To which our very Latin Pope says, “Meh!  Loving these people is more important” and carries on with the lesson he means to teach.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s canonist Pete Vere, no modernist and a friend of the Extraordinary Form:

the Roman approach to law (including liturgical rubrics) has always been subject to the Roman legal mindset, which historically has been much more flexible and broad-minded in the interpretation and application of legal text than the strict legal-positivism of Anglo-American jurisprudence. Hence the traditional Roman legal principle of “favors are to be multiplied, and burdens restricted.”

This may seem like liturgical abuse to English-speaking Catholics in the U.K. and North America, but please keep in mind that Christ founded the Roman Catholic Church and not the Anglo-Catholic Church.

What the pope did was perfectly licit (lawful). He may have departed from established liturgical rubrics, but the rubric in question is mere ecclesiastical law – not a matter of Divine Positive Law or Natural Law. Hence the rubric in question is subject to Pope Francis’s authority as the Church’s Supreme Pontiff. Within Roman (and Catholic) legal tradition he can either depart from mere ecclesiastical law, dispense from it, or completely change it if he believes there is good reason to do so or if a compelling pastoral reason presents itself.

A good example is that of St. Pius X who, in order to combat growing threats of modernism and moral Jansenism within both the Church and the wider culture, lowered the age of Holy Communion from that of canonical adulthood to that of the age of reason. If canon law followed the principles of Anglo-American jurisprudence, rather than ancient Roman jurisprudence, St. Pius X also would have violated several canons when he ordered that a young child who had expressed to him faith in the Real Presence, but had not yet reached canonical age, be administered Holy Communion. It was only after that experience that he changed the law.

Now, none of this was a surprise to me.  It’s been pretty obvious that a man named “Bergoglio” from Latin America has given us no indication at all that he prizes “following the rules” above the weightier matters of the law, especially a purely human construct like canon law.  It’s also perfectly obvious that he intended to use the washing of the feet rite to do what Jesus did: teach.  The question is, what did he intend to teach?  And I think it is obvious from the statement above that what he meant to teach was not “Screw Traditionalists” but “Love the least of these and serve them.”  If Traditionalists are not hearing that very clear message, I think they need to take the focus off themselves and pay attention to what the Holy Father is actually teaching.

There is Tradition and tradition.  Jesus upheld Tradition.  He was remarkably loosey goosey with tradition.  He “broke the rules” when he healed on the Sabbath and let his disciples harvest grain and eat it on the Sabbath (both forms of work and therefore technically forbidden on the Sabbath.  That’s why the Pharisees hated him). He transgressed gender boundaries (and purity rules)  when he permitted a woman of ill repute to (sound familiar?) wash his feet and kiss them.  He knew that love was pre-eminent.  So does Francis.  If we can just get past legalism to the law of love, we’ll be able to hear him as he teaches.

Rules are important.  But they exist for human flourishing not for their own sake.  When we make them more important than human flourishing, we create idols.  When our worship of idols actually tempts us leave the Church (as some Traditionalists have been announcing they will do), or to condemn the Pope, declare him a failure, etc (as many Internet Traditionalists have been doing) it is only on ourselves that we are foolishly pronouncing judgment.  I think Pope Francis will hear, on That Day, the same thing Jesus said of another rule-breaking transgressor of loveless boundaries: “Let him alone; why do you trouble him? He has done a beautiful thing to me.”

At any rate, it is now a moot point, since it is now canonically lawful by virtue of Francis’ action. As Pete Vere adds:

Canonically, given that Pope Francis is the Church’s Supreme Legislator, the rules now change by his actions. Basically, the practice of widening the pool of the twelve chosen for foot washing arose as a counter-custom within the Roman Rite. However, this practice did not previously have the force of law since it contradicted the rubric and sufficient time had not passed to give it the force of law. However, in carrying out the counter-custom, Pope Francis as Supreme Legislator automatically gives this counter-custom the force of law within the Roman Rite, meaning the counter-custom now automatically becomes custom with the force of law unless Pope Francis specifies otherwise.

Can he do that?  Well, as we are so fond of reminding progressives, the Church is not a democracy.  Yes.  The Pope can–and has–done that, according to Pete Vere.  Our task is not to scold but to ask, “What point might he be trying to make here that I should be learning?”

One last point: No matter how hard I try to make it clear that I’m not, some readers are going to take what I write above as “gloating” or some such silly thing.  I, in fact, think that gloating is repellent and, in this case, it is an extra stupid charge since I have absolutely nothing invested in whether the pope or any other priest washes the feet of unbelievers or women.  I win nothing either way and defeat nobody no matter what the Pope chooses to do since I don’t care what he does.  What I care about is people running around like their hair is on fire and denouncing the Pope as though he is antichrist because he doesn’t meet with their demands regarding a malleable human tradition. It was of the essence of Phariseeism that it raised mere human tradition to the level of Sacred Tradition (“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”(Mark 7:6-7)) So when people were declaring that it was “scandalous” to cross gender boundaries because nobody should touch the feet of someone of the opposite sex who is not a blood relation I pointed out that this was Pharisaic in the exact biblical sense of the word:

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner. ” (Luke 7:37-39)

In response, various people demanded to know if 265 Popes were Pharisees.  No. First, because the rite was only instituted in 1955. Second, because the pope who have celebrated it were not trying to teach that nobody should ever have physical contact with somebody of the opposite sex who is not a blood relation.  Nor were they trying to teach that any Pope who does not feel constrained by ecclesial law is antichrist, an antipope, or a legitimate reason to reject that Church and attempt the project of salvation by canon law rigorism.  Only certain combox and blogospheric Pharisees are arguing that.  Pointing that out is not gloating.  It is mourning.  And I hate mourning at Easter.

Are there people gloating over the paroxysms in some Traditionalist circles?  Sure.  The other day, Grant Gallicho was tweeting with what read to me like glee about ‘Traditionalist heads exploding” and seemed to be really delighting in schadenfreude about all this.  I don’t want to see Traditionalists defeated and humiliated and embittered.  I want to see them happy and at peace and full of Easter joy.  I also want Mr. Gallicho to be happy and at peace and full of Easter joy.  Both Trad bitterness, rage, panic, and threats of apostasy and glee about it are a thousand miles away from the love of God.  Both extremes see the whole thing in term of power and politics.  I detest all that from both ends of the fringe.  My concern here is very different and very simple: I want people to stop with the politics and the power and the focus on things of earth and instead focus on the things of heaven where Christ risen now lives in glory.  I want us to listen and learn what the Holy Spirit is saying through the Pope he has given us.  When people are screaming about “Francis the Destroyer” and proclaiming him antichrist or antipope and are threatening to leave the Church because of stuff like this I don’t feel joy or schadenfreude or glee.  I feel sadness and frustration.  And I struggle with how to pray for such people.  I want to shout, “Open your hearts!”

So: a request:  Please pray for me because I am determined to have a joyful Easter and I do find it a challenge to start Easter with the all the nastiness of these silly earthbound quarrels about power ringing in my ears.  Your prayers that I–that we–could set our mind on things of heaven and not on earthly things would be appreciated.

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Let joy be unconfined!  Alleluia!

Update: Grant Gallicho writes to say that I’m “overinterpreting what I tweeted. In fact, I agree with your post. I wish those people would calm down and stop pretending they’re more Catholic than the pope. Anyway, if you won’t reconsider editing your erroneous description of my tweets, perhaps you could link to one to let readers decide for themselves.”

He also adds:

I later linked to a piece we had on dotCommonweal, and got into an exchange with Josh Marshall of TPM–strictly factual (Congregation for Divine Worship issued their document on this in 1988; Cardinal O’Malley asked them if he could include women in 2005, and they said yes, etc.). I make no bones about disagreeing with the 1988 document, and believe it is a mistake to exclude women from foot-washing (the USCCB notes that it’s common practice in the States). Nor do I deny that I think it’s a good thing for arch-traditionalists to be shaken up by Francis. As you say, some of them have come to resemble nothing so much as the Pharisees. There’s nothing wicked about thinking it’s good that they be disabused of their self-satisfied self-righteousness when it comes to liturgical correctness.

  • jeff

    Some good points Mark, what do you make of Ed Peter’s concerns? He believes that the law ought to be changed to allow women’s feet but the fact that he is flouting a law (even tho he might be allowed to) is emboldening the “Clown Mass” sorts to also flout the law (which they are certainly not).

    • bill bannon

      Jeff,
      But then one could criticize Christ in telling a cured man to carry his mat home on the Sabbath. Christ was not responsible if anyone proceeded after that to stretch His example and thus carry a bag of tools home on the Sabbath. Trads have to ask themselves if they would have arrested Christ had they lived then.

      • Sam Schmitt

        It’s just a little bit too simple to bring up Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees every time a Church law is not followed, just like it’s lame to bring up Christ’s anger at the moneychangers in defense of one’s own anger.
        I think Ed Peters concerns are very well placed. Of course the pope can bend the rules, and I’m not concerned about that by itself, but it’s what people will do with what the pope has done that concerns me. (BTW, Ed Peters is no “trad” – which was the point of bringing him into the conversation.)
        If the pope wants to change the rubric – that’s fine. But to leave it in place while not following it seems to give the example that (contrary to what the Holy See has been saying for many years) we really don’t have to follow the liturgical rules after all.
        Not that that’s confusing or anything.

        • bill bannon

          I didn’t bring up Christ’s condemnation of the pharisees.

          • Sam Schmitt

            Good point – I stand corrected.
            I’d still like to know what you think of what Ed Peters has to say.

            • bill bannon

              I think Ed, Jimmy and First Things did great work for peace in this. I liked even more though Fr.Z’s point that Francis is acting within the emergency of a Church losing millions of people in the Americas and Europe because in part we are seen as not warm ( and I’d add….as mainly a library and debating team). When you’re working in an emergency at higher priorities, already liberal extremist using your actions is low priority…especially since they don’t need example to do what they already do. Jimmy Akin cited the Pope’s power in the canon as being “immediate”. Pope Francis followed that. Ed would rather he have changed the rubric first but there was no time between his election and the highly iconic
              Holy Week. Keep in mind also that though relieved since bishop rank of his vow of poverty, Francis obviously lives it still. That aspect affected not liking the papal apartments. The plush aspect of Vatican buildings etc. was historically influenced by Popes and Cardinals who were either born rich ( 3 Popes were Medici proper) or became rich as Cardinal ( the Borgia monster and others).

              • Sam Schmitt

                Don’t really agree with you but that’s a fair reading.

                • Bill bannon

                  Peace. In coming weeks they’ll be less symbolic actions and instead decisions about problems will be his greater challenge.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I see Ed Peters’ perfectly good points, but raise you this one:

      The “Clown Mass” sorts were never going to care about what the pope said or did anyway. Did Benedict’s style deter them?

      • Rosemarie

        +J.M.J+

        Good point. How much of the progressivist crowing is “Hooray! The Pope did it now we can, too!” and how much of it is really, “Ha! IN YOUR FACE Catholic fundies!” I think it’s more the latter than the former, since official disapproval never mattered much before.

      • Stu

        Deter? Not necessarily. But it taught the Catholic public that there is a standard in terms of the Mass which is part of the reason that this issues is getting such play. People are increasingly aware of what is permitted and what isn’t. I live in a diocese where we have had “Superman Mass,” “Wizard of Oz Mass” and even a priest ride a Harley into Church as part of the entrance on Sunday morning. Happily those things were in the past, but I don’t think we need to give them any encouragement. They are still out there.

        Bottom line, we could have had it both ways here. The Pope could have changed the rubrics, taught to them and then executed accordingly or he could have stuck to the rubrics and then washed the feet of many more prisoners after the Mass. There didn’t need to be a dichotomy. It was man-made.

      • jeff

        Some commentators on Fr Z reported their priests explicitly citing the Holy Father’s Maundy Thursday example as justification for their own ad libbing of the mass. It’s not hypothetical. Some people actually do follow the example that the Pope sets!

  • Patrick Santucci

    Mark, I think “Open your hearts!” is EXACTLY the message our Holy Father is trying to send.

  • RidersOnTheStorm

    Well said. Would that both the traditionalist whingers and the liberalist gloaters possessed a modicum of such evenhandedness.

  • Ranjo

    I find myself wondering what the reaction would have been had the Holy Father knowingly excluded or ignored females?

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Frankly, I find the language “knowingly excluded or ignored” to be needlessly inflammatory. That’s not what Benedict or other popes were doing, and you know that. Francis can do what he pleases, and we should try to understand what he is doing and why. That doesn’t make previous popes bigots.

      • Rosemarie

        +J.M.J+

        Yet it would have definitely been *interpreted* as knowingly excluding and/or ignoring women. Had the Pope said, “Sorry, no girls will get their feet washed, only boys.” the girls at the detention center wouldn’t have thought, “But of course; the rubrics clearly state that only viri, men, may have their feet washed since the Twelve Apostles are all male. This is the only proper course of action for the Supreme Pontiff.” No, they would have thought, “Why are they excluding me? The Catholic Church really does hate women!”

        And the press would have echoed that. “The Church must get over its fear of women that keeps half of all Catholics out of positions of power just because of the shape of their skin…” blah, blah, blah.

      • Stu

        No, it doesn’t make them bigots for following the rubrics.

        But that is exactly how it is going to be played out.

        God Bless the Vatican, but they are terrible at understanding public opinion sometimes and how it works.

        • Adolfo

          I can’t say for certain, but I’m going to suggest that outside of the English-speaking world, this will not be as big of a deal.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          The underpinning argument here is “I know Francis doesn’t mean harm, but those guys over there think he means something he doesn’t.”

          How about we all mind our own business?

          • Rosemarie

            +J.M.J+

            Yeah, there is a strong element of worrying about what other people will think.

          • Stu

            I do love your tact in defending the Pope’s call to charity. I know you don’t mean harm, but you come across as just plain sad.

            I do worry about what other people think. That’s part of communicating. It’s good to send consistent messages that aren’t misconstrued.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              Sad? It’s Easter Monday. I couldn’t be happier.

  • Jim Sheridan

    Great insights!

  • Kirt Higdon

    This law might as well be taken off the books as it has been ignored for years. It has been ignored in my parish (hardly a hot bed of liberalism) and by the Pope himself when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

    BTW, anyone who thinks that Anglo-Saxon law consists of a few regulations strictly enforced is obviously unfamiliar with Anglo-Saxon law as it exists in the real world. “As few laws as possible”??? If only!!!

    • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

      Ha ha, yes, that bit made me laugh. The U.S. in particular is completely over-legislated. Mark’s other point about obeying the law no matter what still stands.

      • Rosemarie

        +J.M.J+

        There was a time when the US wasn’t so over-legislated. I think the problem is that we are passing more and more laws (like Romans) and *still* demanding absolute obedience to all of them (like Anglo-Saxons). The worst of both worlds.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Funny, we have a priest in residence from Nigeria. He’s often talked about how wonderful it is that America has so many laws. Why? Because he says he is from a country with far too few. I guess after all these eons, we Americans aren’t immune from the grass is always greener syndrome.

  • TMLutas

    Sorry to break in with some politics but I cannot help myself. You said it yourself and it has always been Church teaching but Pope Francis just shouted from the rooftops to every fearful Muslim out there thinking about swimming the Tiber or even just running that the Church is for them too. And he did it all without violent street protest in reaction. I love that.

    I do hope that Pope Francis circles back and ties up the loose ends in terms of the rubrics. Somebody will eventually. It might as well be him.

  • Rosemarie

    +J.M.J+

    >>>In response, various people demanded to know if 265 Popes were Pharisees. No. Because they were not trying to teach that nobody should ever have physical contact with somebody of the opposite sex who is not a blood relation.

    Most of those 265 popes didn’t wash anyone’s feet during Holy Thursday Mass since it was not added to the Mass until 1955.

    Let’s put all this into perspective. Sooner or later, Pope Francis is bound to make a statement re. ordination of women or “gay marriage” or something like that, reaffirming Church teaching on the matter. Then all who are mourning now will suddenly rejoice and those progressives who are gloating now shall wail and gnash their teeth. But maybe we’d all be better off if we ease up on the politics: the concern over “their” side supposedly getting a boost and “our” side losing ground because of the pope’s actions. I’ve seen an element of such factionalism in the current controversy on both sides, and I don’t think the Holy Father gives a whit about all that. He’s not taking sides, he’s trying to bring Christ to others.

  • Eric

    Maybe the rad mods should stop and ask why we have leaders in the Church that are bent on breaking the traditions, customs, and sometimes Traditions that give us our Catholic identity. The foot washing was just a symptom of the disease that has been rotting away the members of the Body since the 50s and 60s. Maybe the rad mods should stop trying to canonize every Pope that does and says things that undermine their predecessors. Lame excuse after lame excuse. It’s actually entertaining and predictable to watch you guys run around like headless chickens to find ways to justify every radical action of this man. What will you say when he does something like offer Mass at a Jewish temple? “Oh, how humble! He’s really so traditional because Our Lord was a Jew.” It’s absolutely frightening to see so many mindless robots repeating the mantra, “He’s the Pope, so it’s okay! He’s the Pope, so it’s okay!” Guess I’m one of those rigid meanies that believes the traditions are an outward sign of Tradition.

    • Bill

      As Supreme Legislator, in this case, because he is the Pope, it is okay Eric.

      Traditionalism needs to drop its insecurities like progressivism needs to drop its anger.

      • midwestlady

        Agree. They both need to relax and let go of their underpants.

    • Will

      Well, I for one would be flabbergasted if he “offered mass at a Jewish temple” because the Temple would have to be rebuilt first, and there would have to be major major changes in (rabbinic) Jewish attitudes if they would let him get away with it.

    • Mark Shea

      Nope. No hysterics at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00805469860229478026 Irksome1

    I’m not saying I agree with the Traditionalists who are offended by the Pope’s decision here, but I can certainly understand the anger. Traditionalists are, after all, the people who most often find themselves defending the way the Church does things and the restrictions she imposes upon her followers. They are often the first to defend things like fish on Friday or weightier matters like expelling a child from a Catholic school because the child’s “parents” are a same-sex couple. For the Pope to suddenly change the way things are done, as if on a whim, seems to make these laws arbitrary. Worse, any defense he may have made of the ritual as formerly practiced now seems to be based on rationalizations rather than reason. He may feel this weakens his defense of more substantive issues and therefore feel betrayed by the Pope.

    I think we ought to be aware that this is a mindset that is too often aided and abetted by politics, apologetic subcultures and the pugilistic style of evangelism now in vogue. Perhaps the ideas we ought to be paying closer attention to are precisely those that we’re meant to agree with.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      Glad you brought up apologetics. When I first began learning Catholic apologetics about twenty years ago, we were taught to explain and/or defend everything: big T’s, small t’s, popular practices, etc – we had to have an answer for it all. We were taught to defend the all-male priesthood, celibacy, exclusion of girls from being altar servers and, of course, not washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday. Of course, when the Vatican officially permitted altar girls, we just had to adjust to that new reality.

      Now we may have to adjust to another new reality. I *do* understand if anyone feels they’ve just had the proverbial rug pulled out from under them after defending the foot-washing rubrics for so long. That’s pretty much what happened with altar girls. I recall Fr. Fessio getting quite upset when that ruling came down, since he had invested a lot in the anti-altar girls argument.

      Maybe the key is to remember that we can’t defend everything with the same vigor. Our defense of the all-male priesthood, for instance, should be more strenuous than our defense of, say, priestly celibacy. That’s because priestly celibacy is not universal and is a discipline that can be changed, while the Church has no authority to ordain women. Even so, our defense of foot-washing of men only should be more on the same level as defense of priestly celibacy, since it is a discipline that can be changed. We should not act as though it is equal to an article of faith.

  • http://www.thedeaconspeakin.com Deacon Sean Smith

    Eric,

    I, too, think that traditions are an outward sign of Tradition. I think that is a fair representation of of we should understand things. But signs are not replicas, and do not contain complete understandings. I don’t think Pope Francis missed the sign or its meaning, just as Jesus did not miss them in the laws he challenged by his actions. Rather, as Mark discussed, he was choosing a different point of emphasis.

    To irksome’s point, I don’t think this makes the prior practice based on rationalization. The law was codifying an interpretation of what the washing of the feet symbolized. It wasn’t “wrong” and Pope Francis interpretation “right”. They are both fine interpretations that lend themselves to different signs or representations.

    All that said, if would certainly have made life easier had the Holy Father given the teaching and changed the law before acting! It might have saved some, but not all, of these difficulties.

    +Peace

  • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

    I for one have been quite upset over the Pharisaical garment rending by the “rad trads” over some of the choices that Pope Francis has made. He actually has been more liturgically “conservative” than Bl. John Paul II. But, I am going to now play devil’s advocate and defend the “traditionalist” position.

    I know that many have decried the lackluster, maudlin pieces that pass for “Christian” and “Catholic” movies, music, books, and illustrations. And many of the criticisms have merit. Yet, I do not hear the same critique on lackluster liturgies. I would think that the most beautiful drama in history should have better presentation than what most of us are subjected to every weekend. Why don’t we hear more support for good liturgy from those who want good art and music

    Perhaps one would say that most don’t know what good liturgy is. The same could be said about art and music. It doesn’t take much study to learn art and music appreciation. Neither does it take much study to learn what a good liturgy should be.

  • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

    I would also disagree with Mr. Vere, Our Lord didn’t found the ROMAN Catholic Church. He founded the Catholic Church of which there are 22 Sui Juris Churches bound together in fraternity under the Pope.

  • freddy

    Dear Mark,
    A happy and joyous Easter to you and yours! Alleluia! He is truly risen!

    I don’t consider myself anything but a Catholic, although I belong to an FSSP parish, by God’s grace on my miserable soul. I am joyful at Pope Francis’s actions and words. It is for the Church to interpret the Bible through her Magisterium, and She has. To get upset about a change in interpretation of a beautiful act by Our Lord presented in the Holy Thursday liturgy by a mandatum: “Maundy” if you will, is a hardening of the heart that opposes everything Our Lord suffered beginning that night.

    Who was upset that a woman washed Christ’s feet with her tears and anointed them with costly oil? Judas, who betrayed Him.

    Who resisted at first having his feet washed by Christ? Peter, who denied Him.

    Have mercy on us, and on the whole world! Fear not! Rejoice!

    • http://www.ironiccatholic.com Ironic Catholic

      “Who was upset that a woman washed Christ’s feet with her tears and anointed them with costly oil? Judas, who betrayed Him.

      Who resisted at first having his feet washed by Christ? Peter, who denied Him.”

      Nice….

      • CF

        Jesus washed the feet of his first Bishops-men….no non beleivers, nor women…..the Pope washed at least 2 women, one a Muslim that, until a few years ago, Mark would have cheered incinerating…..

        • Andy, Bad Person

          .no non beleivers, nor women…..

          citation needed.

          one a Muslim that, until a few years ago, Mark would have cheered incinerating…..

          Excuse me?

        • Mark Shea

          You don’t really seem to have a firm grasp on my views, do you?

      • freddy

        Ironic Catholic,
        Please forgive me if I sounded uncharitable. I didn’t mean anything hurtful. I have often been guilty of hardening my own heart in regards to loving my neighbor. It’s often easier to practice love in the abstract than up close and personal! The older I get the more I understand “perfect love casts out fear.” I do understand that the Pope’s actions might cause confusion and dismay among some Catholics here in America, where the practice has been a bone of contention for some time. But I find that seeking the good and trying to think along with the Church to be far more liberating and joyous than being angry and worrying about the future.
        And I realize I’m not the most coherent writer!

        • http://www.ironiccatholic.com IC

          Freddy, perhaps I should apologize. I was genuinely complimenting you!!! Nice just means nice (in this case)! I thought it was a great point.

        • http://www.ironiccatholic.com IC

          Freddy,
          perhaps *I* should apologize. I was genuinely complimenting you!!! Nice just means nice (in this case)! I thought it was a great point.

          • freddy

            Oh, thank you! And God bless.
            I have teenagers: my ears are permanently set on “sarcasm.” Sorry!

  • Rob

    To have excluded the young women from the ritual washing of feet on Holy Thursday night in this Roman prison, would have detracted our attention from the essence of the Holy Thursday Gospel, and the very beautiful and simple gesture of a father who desired to embrace those who were on the fringes of society; those who were not refined experts of liturgical rules.

    I admit the above makes no sense to me. I mean, OK it’s true, but it has likewise been true of every pastor who has had to make (based on the liturgical rubrics) the hard decision and have the awkward conversation with dozens of parishioners, year after year, about why he will only wash the feet of certain men in his community. If it’s just that easy and straight forward to break the rules, if it represents the triumph of Real Love over Ugly Pharasaic Legalism, then why weren’t all the other pastors informed of this 20 years ago? Their reactions must be something like, “Oh. Really? That would have made my life much easier!” Like they’ve been fighting on a hill that, it turns out, nobody really thinks is that important (despite repeated messages to the contrary over the years).

    It’s not a OMG we’re all going under moment. It’s more like: WTF?

  • ivan_the_mad

    What a great article for Easter Monday, thanks Mark! Be assured of my prayers. Let’s continue praying for the pope too! Or, as some might prefer it written, Oremus pro Pontifice (and specially reflect to make sure that our own interests are not making us inimici ejus)!

  • Sam Schmitt

    “Rules are important. But they exist for human flourishing not for their own sake. When we make them more important than human flourishing, we create idols.”
    I couldn’t agree more – when rules get in the way of human flourishing, they should be changed. But it’s hard to see the point of not changing them, but simply disregarding them, all the while insisting that they should be followed. Hardly helpful to those who have struggled and suffered to obey the rules, and comforting and encouraging for those who haven’t.

  • http://www.ironiccatholic.com Ironic Catholic

    This has without doubt been one of the lousiest Holy Weeks I’ve experienced on record–between some traditionalist liturgists flippin’ out and the whole Gay marriage dueling banjos phenom on facebook and twitter– and the culprit is not Pope Francis. The culprit is us. The American Church should be absolutely ashamed of itself from every corner.

  • Sandy

    Mark Shea, I am so with you! I too am determined to have a joyful Easter. In recent days, I have been so saddened at the unloving Pharisaical comments on many Catholic blogs, from critiquing our beautiful new Pope to lamenting the presence of C and E Catholics at mass. If I can avoid judging the judgmental, I’m sure I can stay joyful. Peace!

  • CF

    Hysterics? Like your titel and subtitle? Is anyone, really, say they are going Sede over teh feet washing? or calling for end of days? really? You tend to minimalize Catholic teaching you do not like, dismiss it and trivialize. Wrapped up in love, beauty and meaningless drivel. Box marked Papaloltry….Jimmy Akin and you, perfect together in NewChurch, that quasi-fake thing that purports to be Catholic, but is a amalgamation of errors….Perhaps, someday, you will be both Catholic and really like it……mind me not, go hock a book, line up a speech….snake oil salesman……I had a great Easter and stuck to the rules and doctrines, dogmas and avoided the Marks and Sandy’s that rely on emotionalism and symbolism (Protestantism). The Pope is a servant of the Faith, not an innovator and he does not get to say “hey, I am da Pope, get to do what I want”…no sorry, wrong again…..

  • Stu

    “The rules” exist for man, not man for the rules. They are subservient to the law of love.”
    ———————
    Then simply change them and then follow them. We can promote love and obedience at the same time. And we should

    That’s the issue.

    This wasn’t a case of something that popped up at the last minute. It was the proverbial “ox in the ditch on the Sabbath.” It was a planned event. Far better to change the rubrics beforehand and then follow them. Teach, then do. It would have been much more effective.

    That being said, I think you will now just see the “optional” rite fall into disuse as will now increasingly become an issue of ensuring that “everyone” is represented in the rite.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      It may not have been a snap decision in the spur of the moment, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valid pastoral decision. The kids at that detention center weren’t experts on rubrics or canon law. They most likely would have misunderstood any exclusion of girls from the foot-washing rite and chalked it up to sexism and misogyny. So instead of risking misunderstanding the Pope, the supreme legislator of the Church, decided to dispense with what is merely an ecclesiastical law and therefore within his right to dispense. He just didn’t want anything to get in the way of these kids experiencing the love of Christ. I think that was perfectly legitimate, even if some purists get upset over it.

      • Stu

        Then simply change the rubrics beforehand. There was plenty of time to do that for an event planned out in the future.

        Change, teach then execute. Textbook leadership.

        Or was their feet after the Mass. Rubric maintained and example of charity still delivered.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          The Vatican never seems to operate from a textbook on leadership. Mark has commented on Rome’s slipshod administration before; didn’t he say something like, “I don’t believe in organized religion, I’m Catholic”? Maybe you should apply for a job as adviser there, since you seem to have some ideas to offer.

          Anyway, maybe they should do away with the males-only foot-washing rule.

          • Stu

            Maybe you should apply for a job as adviser there, since you seem to have some ideas to offer.
            ———————
            That has seriously been suggested to me of late by someone of note. :)

      • Rob

        The kids at that detention center weren’t experts on rubrics or canon law.

        Which is the same as 99.99% of every Catholic parish on earth.

        They most likely would have misunderstood any exclusion of girls from the foot-washing rite and chalked it up to sexism and misogyny.

        As do probably 50% of Catholics in every first world parish.

        Yet in the face of these facts, pastors have been asked to “tow the line” for years upon years. Why could they not remove hindrances to people “experiencing the love of Christ”? I would have had no problem if the Holy See *had* allowed this. But they didn’t.

        My only issue is that the Vatican responses seem disingenuous, as if this were somehow an issue unique to Pope Francis in this context. But it’s what pastors have faced for years. But hey, “I’m the pope, so I can do whatever I want.”

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          With Church-going Catholics, there is more of a chance to educate them in the rubrics than the Pope would have had during a one-off visit to a juvenile detention center. This was an extraordinary occasion, not your average parish Mass of Holy Thursday.

  • Stu

    And can we avoid the knee jerk calling of everyone who has an issue with this a “pharisee?” It’s both lazy and doesn’t promote discussion. After all, Christ did also say to his disciples to do what they say.

    Many, if not most, of the people who have an issue here are moved because they love the Mass and see it as the most important thing we participate in as Catholics. It about loving Christ with all of our hearts, souls and minds and they take that seriously. Instead of characterizing that in the most negative manner with capricious namecalling, out of charity why not recognize that and work from there.

    Personally, I think there is room for both following the rubrics and charity but this debate keeps being set up as an either/or choice. Pity.

  • Charlotte

    CP,
    I’ve seen loads of comments on various blogs since Francis was elected from people claiming that they’re now going to bail to the SSPX. One can argue whether SSPX are or are not schismatic, but the fact remains that Mark is correct: at least on the internet, there are commemts being made to the effect of wanting to leave for something “more pure.”

  • Blog Goliard

    1) I believe that Pope Francis is a good, holy man, a true friend and follower of Christ, and that he is doing some beautiful things. This has been obvious to me from the start–the Holy Father had me at “buona sera”.

    2) I also worry that grave problems may result from some of these things. Just as grave problems have flowed from some of the loving and generous and well-intentioned gestures of every other Pope of my lifetime.

    I see no need to choose between observations 1 and 2, to gainsay either the evidence of my own senses or the weight of post-Conciliar history.

    I do see a need to pray more…and I will happily include your request in my intentions, Mark.

  • Jeremy Dobbs

    I wish the Church would take the feet washing out of the Liturgy. It really is an extraliturgical act and is a recent addition to the Liturgy. I really do see both sides on this. Against the Holy Father, the Liturgy is not the place to express ourselves. It is the prayer of the Church, and the best priests lose themselves in the liturgy – I must decrease, He must increase and whatnot. On the flipside, the sabbath is for man, not man for the sabbath. There is a tendency among some of us trads to put Fortiscue’s Rites and Rubrics of the Roman Rite among of the Gospels, as if fiddleback vestments and Mass of the Angels were part of the Paternity handed doewn by Jesus to the Apostles. The truth, it seems, is somewhere in the middle – charity covers a miltitude of sins. Priests should not deviate from the rubrics, but the needs of souls trumps rubrics any day. And isn’t it a duty of Catholics to ascribe the best possible intention to one’s actions? Room for concerns, yes. Vitrol, no.

  • Mark Windsor

    I’m not even going to bother reading all of this. It would just be really nice if you’d treat other people with a wee bit of courtesy instead of heaping derision upon everyone that might show a modicum of concern for the liturgy. Ed Peters doesn’t strike me as a shreiking hysteric, neither am I, and I don’t think Benedict XVI and his concern for the liturgy was so horrid.

    You sound more like the rad-trads that are holier than thou, and less like someone concerned for souls. Your writing is very pithy, Mark, but sometimes you need to learn how to stow it. You are becoming what you clearly hate.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m not heaping derision on people who show a modicum of concern. I trying to warn people against having hysterics and letting fly with absurd falsehoods and condemnation of a good man and a good Pope acting within his rights and his office to teach us. Where in this piece have I said a word about Ed Peters being a hysteric or Benedict being horrid? You should really bother reading before you fling condemnations.

      • Mark Windsor

        But it’s ok for you to fling condemnations? I don’t stop here often anymore because of this. Show me where, in the heap of writings that you post on the various sites you write for, that you’ve shown any regard toward those that DO feel like this. Where have you written anything BUT derision for people that are concerned for the state of the liturgy?

        Perhaps it’s an issue of perspective. I know things are mighty fine in that bastion of liturgical conservatism known as Washington state, but here things pretty much suck. We need solid examples from our bishops, and in my part of the country we don’t get it. I sympathize with those you call hysterics because I see it from a different point of view.

        I was using Benedict and Peters as examples of those concerned about liturgy. Perhaps you should read a bit more closely too.

        • Mark Shea

          I have no derision for people who are concerned about the state of the liturgy. None whatsoever. I do feel frustation with people whose obsession with the details of liturgy fills them with rage at innocent people and contempt for most of the Church, including, now, this Pope. So, I repeat, since I said absolutely nothing about or against Ed Peters and Pope Benedict, what is your point in dragging them into the discussion?

          • Mark Windsor

            So, I repeat, since I said absolutely nothing about or against Ed Peters and Pope Benedict, what is your point in dragging them into the discussion?

            Seemingly lost.

          • jeff

            I will respond that you, Mark, are spoilt rotten at your parish as regards to liturgy.

            It’s all ok for the RICH men to go on an on about how money doesn’t matter. Try telling that to the impoverished!

            Same goes for liturgy. There’s a LOT of people out there who have to put up with the Holy Mass being treated like a circus week after week, year after year while we watch our own children ask themselves why even bother going any more.

            When we’ve seen our whole Catholic identity belittled and trashed (not by Pope Francis, but by the feral nuns who make up diocesan liturgy committees who run the show) and that’s the experience we been forced to live with all our lives then of course we are going to worry about the example that our Holy Father is setting his bishops and priests.

      • http://frmartinfox.blogspot.com FrMartinFox

        When you apply a broad-brush of “hysterics” to a whole category of people you call “traditionalists,” that seems pretty derisive to me. The fact that you exclude a handful of people by name from that derision doesn’t really absolve you, it seems to me. Why not just admit you tend to glibness, and this is yet another example? I tend to be glib, myself.

        I love Pope Francis, and I want to learn from him; but if setting aside rubrics recurs, I suspect a fair number of priests are going to say, why bother standing up for the liturgy? Unless your own bishop takes a strong stance, why bother? As it is, a fair number of priests have been taking abuse for years for defending this rubric, and boy don’t they look foolish now?

    • Bryan

      Are you denouncing the Pope?
      Are you making allusions to leaving for the SSPX?
      Are you making suggestions that Francis could be an anti-pope?
      Are you spreading rumors?

      If so, Mark’s post was aimed at you and you earned it. Suck it up and deal (and change).

      If not and you merely wish to show a “modicum of concern for the liturgy”, then his post was clearly not aimed at you as he specifically called out things that I mentioned above and you are overreacting.

      • Stu

        Problem is, when you respond to the minority of extremists, you work is often read by the masses. I guess it begs the question, who is the audience and what message are you attempting to convey to your audience.

        • Mark Shea

          The “minority” of extremists constitute, on the web, roughly 40% of the commenters in conservative Catholic blogospheric comboxes. Go take a look at Jimmy’s commenters. I’d say the majority on that thread are ranging from “The Pope can’t do this” to outright hysteria. Defenders of the Pope are, last I looked in, in the minority.

          • Stu

            Yet, they are still the minority. Loud and focused? Of course. They want to be heard and want people to react to them. Problem is, in addressing them, you often do some collateral damage.

            Again, it comes down to what message you want to send to YOUR audience and how your time would be better spent. I would love to see this discussion being had in the middle ground and not on the most extreme sides. Right now we seemingly have factions for either “charity” or “rubrics” when it really is a false choice.

            Pity there is no unifying voice.

          • Mark Windsor

            The “minority” of extremists constitute, on the web, roughly 40% of the commenters in conservative Catholic blogospheric comboxes.

            You’re surprised that a conservative Catholic blog might have conservative Catholic commenters?

            • Mark Shea

              No. I’m surprised that such a large number of people who self-identify as Faithful Conservative Catholics are so ready and willing to declare the Pope a failure, an antichrist, an enemy of the Faith, or an antipope over this perfectly legitimate and lawful act.

              • Stu

                How many Catholics identify as non-faithful?

                • Mark Shea

                  Most of them. “I’m Catholic. But I don’t believe all that stuff the pope says. I think religion is private. It means a lot to me personally, but I don’t think the Church can tell me what to think.” That’s more or less the norm in America.

                  • Stu

                    I don’t know.

                    Even the folks at the National Catholic Reporter think they are somehow “faithful” to the “real Church.”

                    Regardless Mark, I think you give much too much attention to the extremes and instead should use you demonstrable talents to building consensus based upon truth.

                    This is a good example of an issue. There is plenty of room to say the Pope gets an A+ for message by D+ for execution. He could have nailed both messages very easily. Wish he would have and look for him to do it next time. As has been said, he is a humble man. Humble men learn.

              • Mark Windsor

                “I’m Catholic. But I don’t believe all that stuff the pope says. I think religion is private. It means a lot to me personally, but I don’t think the Church can tell me what to think.”

                none of which happened on this thread. Just pointing that out since so much is assumed.

                • Mark Shea

                  True. But I’m not addressing just the people on this thread.

        • Bryan

          I think the answer is to read the piece carefully before taking offense, much less responding indignantly or whining about it. No one who bothered to actually pay attention to the words Mark said could come away with the notion that this piece was aimed at people who simply had some concerns for the liturgy. No. Way. At. All.

          • Stu

            As always, its a both/and approach and not an either/or.

    • Stu

      Ed Peters always provides sound and workman-like analysis of an issue. Regardless of your agreement with him or not, he is a great source for thought that is delivered in a sober manner.

      • Bryan

        Again, I fail to see how you could read what Mark actually said and think that he has a problem with Ed Peters.

        • Stu

          I fail to see how you read my comment and came to that conclusion.

  • George

    The idea that women in the mandatum rite is one step away from Clown Masses and consecrating Pizza and Soda as the Eucharist is absurd. Yet, this seems to underlie much of the concern from Traditionalist circles

    I am no fan of the idea of Clown Masses, etc. However, I don’t see that following from this Pope’s actions in this specific situation. Maybe at some time in the past few decades this would have been a worry. Not now though. Any traditionalist who thinks so needs to step outside of themselves and their parish for a short time and realize that the Church is no longer in that point of history. The clown mass progressives are either no longer in charge, or on their way out. The new generation in most parishes is neither traditional in the usual sense of the word or progressive to the point of irreverence.

    These people are confused and scared, but I think without reason. They are fighting a battle that they won long ago but did not realize it. However the post-war period does not look like the pre-war period they remember or imagine. It was never going to. Keep them in your prayers. They are still members of the same Church and need our support.

  • Art

    I am as confused as I have ever been. Am I in hysteria? No, I am not. But it appears that liberals within numerous parishes are using this as a jolt to having more freedoms in the Mass. Kumbaya style masses with liturgical dancers with clowns to entertain the children. I mean what they are saying is “The rules” exist for man, not man for the rules. They are subservient to the law of love. We are just following what our leader, the pope, is doing.

    I think what the pope did was a very lovely thing, don’t get me wrong. However as much as people want to beat up the traditionalist, I would like to see some beating up of the people who think this is now a free for all in regards to anything regarding rules within our faith.

    • Mark Shea

      But it appears that liberals within numerous parishes are using this as a jolt to having more freedoms in the Mass. Kumbaya style masses with liturgical dancers with clowns to entertain the children.

      Documentation please? It’s been three days, during which Church’s have been doing liturgies that were planned weeks ago. I simply do not believe that the Pope’s action this past Thursday has sparked some liturgical revolution overnight.

      • Art

        You already know these things have happened in the past, all it takes is a youtube video to pull this up. This will be seen by them as a validation (approval).

        In regards to documentation, I have not had the opportunity to interview extreme libs within my parish. I do know after over hearing conversation after Good Friday that they were pleased with the change the direction the Church is going and their hopes is for more things to be changed. Perhaps what I am saying is an exaggeration in regards to clown masses, but I hope the point is not missed, in that this will jolt those who want the Church to be something completely different.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          You already know these things have happened in the past, all it takes is a youtube video to pull this up. This will be seen by them as a validation (approval).

          Validation which they never wanted or needed before. The liturgical circus has been happening for the last 50 years and has never needed the encouragement of the pope, nor has it been stopped by liturgically focused papacies like Benedict’s.

          I predict that we will see neither more nor fewer clown Masses due to Francis’ actions.

          • Art

            Andy, my prediction is that we will see more people within parish “communities” desiring unhealthy changes in the name of “love” and not being like a “pharisee”. They will point to this beautiful example that the pope did on Holy Thursday and totally not get the point.

      • Sam Schmitt

        You can get a taste here and here.

    • Sandy

      “But it appears that liberals within numerous parishes are using this as a jolt to having more freedoms in the Mass. Kumbaya style masses with liturgical dancers with clowns to entertain the children.”
      Oh my, all this has happened, since Pope Francis washed women’s feet, on Thursday??

      • Art

        Nope Sandy it already has happened before Pope Francis. Pope Francis’ beautiful actions will some how validate the above.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          As we noted above, progressives don’t need such “validation”; they’d do what they want with the liturgy regardless.

          • Art

            That is true Rosemarie. So we probably shouldn’t even be concerned.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    I am dubious about the idea that the Pope automatically changes the law by doing something against or beyond it. I don’t have any dog in this fight (of washing women’s feet) but I think it would be much better to change the law on the books beforehand, which presumably the Pope can do very easily, instead of violating an existing law.

    After all, if the Pope can do it, why can’t Father Feelgood? (And yes, I’m perfectly aware that the preceding sentence is not a valid argument, but that is the reality on the ground.)

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Pope Francis, and think he is teaching us some very important things: simplicity, compassion, and humility, to name a few. But I do think he made a mistake in this matter.

    • Art

      People will naturally follow their leader. I think what will happen in some parishes is that they will disregard any rubrics or law within the Church under the guise of love and tell the people who have a problem with it that they are being like the pharisees. Liturgical abuses could now be considered just changes out of love.

    • Mark Shea

      After all, if the Pope can do it, why can’t Father Feelgood?

      Because he is the Pope and Fr. Feelgood is not. It really is that simple.

      • Art

        I agree Mark it is that simple, but Fr. Feelgood will tell his parishioners not to be like the pharisees and that what he is doing is out of love and after all he is just following the practices of the pope.

        Again, not saying what the pope did was wrong! It was beautiful! However, this will validate any changes or practices for local parishes that do that type of thing. I think we are dealing with 2 extremes here. I am in the middle just snacking on the popcorn and looking at the debates between trads and catholics and catholics and extreme clown mass folks.

      • Mark Windsor

        It really isn’t, and that’s the problem. When BXVI gave the Eucharist, he did so on the tongue and to people that were kneeling. In my area, that was ignored. On Ash Wednesday, the woman in front of me specifically knelt to receive and was rebuked by the priest for doing so.

        But when Francis washes the feet of the muslim girl it’s a mandate. I’ve already heard it in my parish over the Triduum.

        Do you seriously think this isn’t the reality we live in today? Can you not see why this would cause some to totally flip out?

        • Mark Shea

          I would not flip out. I would point out that it’s not, in fact, a mandate (unless your bishop makes it one). It is, however, now lawful. Your priest was out of line to rebuke the woman.

  • Sandy

    I would love to see an end to the use of the term “clown mass”, as I have truly never heard of an actual clown participating in the liturgy.

    PS Im still feeling really joyful!!

    • Bryan
    • Art
      • Sandy

        Stop! My Eyes!
        I will never complain again about anything I see at my parish! I have never seen anything like these youtube videos. Not ever.
        But these examples of liturgical abuses are not the spawn of Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday actions, and will go on no matter what Pope Francis does, if the bishops of these dioceses allow it. I’ll never second guess the pastoral sense of Pope Francis, but instead will look for the lesson in it for me.
        His examples is changing me, for the better. Please, people, don’t be afraid to be changed by this beautiful and holy man!!

        • Art

          I am not afraid to be changed by Pope Francis! I love the man. What I am afraid of is both extremes within the Church misunderstanding the actions.

          You are right the extreme of those liturgical abuses are not the spawn of Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday actions. It merely is the reaction to his reaction that will some how validate any liturgical abuse in the name of “don’t be like the pharisees, what our parish priest is doing is doing so out of love.”

          Sorry if this offends people, but I take major offense to that. Let each one of the sacred ministers ask himself, even with severity, whether he has respected the rights of the lay members of Christ’s faithful, who confidently entrust themselves and their children to him, relying on him to fulfill for the faithful those sacred functions that the Church intends to carry out in celebrating the sacred liturgy at Christ’s command. For each one should always remember that he is a servant of the sacred liturgy, not the creator of!

          • Art

            *…reaction to his action…*

      • Hereticorum Interfector

        You can thank Vatican II for “clown” Masses along with every other conceivable variation. This would have been unheard of prior to the oft lauded V2 debacle. I’m not a sedevacantist, by the way, although I do sympathize with them. I just hate the Novus Ordo with every fiber of my being but I doubt we’ll ever see the end of it, unfortunately. I think it’s here until Jesus returns and exacts His vengeance on ever “Mess” that’s ever been “celebrated” in His name that have turned many, many Catholics away and possibly to their eternal damnation. The Novus Ordo is WORTHLESS.

        • Mark Shea

          This is why I have a hard time buying when people tell me that the Urine and Vinegar crowd “love the Mass”. No they don’t. Like you, they frequently express their hatred and blasphemy for the Mass. What they love is a particular aesthetic. And they love it more than Jesus Christ himself, fully present in the Eucharist at the OF. They also frequently express, as you do, their intense hatred of most of the Church and of the Holy Father. Steve, it is you and those who talk like you who are the greatest enemies of the EF in the world. And you seem to have absolutely no awareness of the deep evil you advocate. Repent.

          • Hereticorum Interfector

            OK, Mark, I’ll take my vitriol down several notches here. Firstly, I don’t pretend to represent the “Urine and Vinegar” crowd, by which I presume you mean those with an affinity to the EF of the Mass. Secondly, are you suggesting that I should just suck it up when I happen to attend a Mass where all sorts of illicit acts are performed? I argue that the real blasphemy takes place is most Catholic churches each Sunday. Why you refuse to admit this baffles me. Instead, men like you just want us to “offer it up”. I’m sorry, Mark, but that’s not in my character. I stayed away from Christianity for years because of the way in which most Christians around me treated Jesus, i.e., like their fishing buddy. When I found the Catholic Church I *thought* I’d finally found a place where the faith was taken seriously but it appears that since V2 the Church has went he other direction, apparently in a futile attempt to make itself more appealing and more relevant. What you’ve actually, done, however, is stripped it from any substance – aside from the Eucharist itself, of course – but when you see most people not genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, chewing gum, dressed in shorts or short skirts, etc., then what has it gained you? Nothing. The RCC in the west is a real joke and human beings are to blame for that. It infuriates me precisely because I DO love Jesus and it angers me that others show so little respect for Him. We only give him an hour a week and this is how we treat Him? Sorry, I’m calling it out and shining a light on it. It’s wicked. Get your head out of the sand, Mark. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the Catholic Church and no matter how you try and sell that view, there are many of us who know better.

            • Mark Shea

              OK, Mark, I’ll take my vitriol down several notches here.

              Given what follows, you continue to demonstrate spectacular unselfawareness.

              Firstly, I don’t pretend to represent the “Urine and Vinegar” crowd, by which I presume you mean those with an affinity to the EF of the Mass.

              You needn’t pretend, you do represent them. And no, it is not those with an affinity to the EF, but those who speak with hatred and contempt for the OF, for all those in the Church who do not share their aesthetic obsessions, and (lately) for Francis, for JPII, and for the Council. Stuff like what you write is an embarrassment to sane and healthy lovers of the EF.

              Secondly, are you suggesting that I should just suck it up when I happen to attend a Mass where all sorts of illicit acts are performed?

              No. I’m suggesting you should stop blaspheming the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

              I argue that the real blasphemy takes place is most Catholic churches each Sunday.

              Correct. As I say, you casually blaspheme the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and express your deep hatred for most of the Church.

              Why you refuse to admit this baffles me.

              I admit that you blaspheme Holy Mass in your addictioin to anger and hatred of the Church. I do not admit that a Mass approved by Holy Mother Church is “worthless” or blasphemous. That’s because I go to an OF Mass that is reverently celebrated and have done so all all over the country and do not regard it as “worthless” as you blasphemously do.

              Instead, men like you just want us to “offer it up”.

              No. Men like me are grateful for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

              I’m sorry, Mark, but that’s not in my character.

              That much is obvious. What is, alas, in your character (which the grace of the Holy Spirit can alter and redeem) is deep hatred for the Church and idolatry of the sin of anger. Repent.

              I stayed away from Christianity for years because of the way in which most Christians around me treated Jesus, i.e., like their fishing buddy. When I found the Catholic Church I *thought* I’d finally found a place where the faith was taken seriously but it appears that since V2 the Church has went he other direction, apparently in a futile attempt to make itself more appealing and more relevant. What you’ve actually, done, however, is stripped it from any substance – aside from the Eucharist itself, of course – but when you see most people not genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, chewing gum, dressed in shorts or short skirts, etc., then what has it gained you? Nothing. The RCC in the west is a real joke and human beings are to blame for that. It infuriates me precisely because I DO love Jesus and it angers me that others show so little respect for Him.

              No. You don’t love Jesus. You love a particular aesthetic, a particular moral theory, and above all, you love indulging the sin of anger. If you loved Jesus, you would love the People of God. That’s not me. That St. John: “If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

              We only give him an hour a week and this is how we treat Him? Sorry, I’m calling it out and shining a light on it. It’s wicked. Get your head out of the sand, Mark. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the Catholic Church and no matter how you try and sell that view, there are many of us who know better.

              Thanks for that news flash that all is not well with the Church. I never would have known that without your emotionally incontinent fits of rage. Here, read this: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/there-aint-no-pure-church You don’t love Jesus. You love your sense of prideful superiority to the average Catholic. You love anger, rage, and disgust. They are working like drugs in your system, like crystal meth robbing you of the appetite for healthy food and stealing your soul. Your anger will destroy you if you do not address it and take it to confession–preferably with a priest you cannot stand and have judged to be “too liberal”. How *dare* you speak of Holy Church with such contempt. Who died and made you the judge of the People of God?

              God is ready and willing to forgive and help you. But you have to face facts about your sin here. It will kill you.

    • Stu

      Are you saying these things haven’t happened?

      It’s obviously a huge leap to take what happened on Holy Thursday and assume that so-called “Clown Masses” are going to pop up everywhere, but these things do happen.

      Superman Mass. Happened.
      Wizard of Oz Mass. Happened.
      Forklift Mass. Happened.
      Volkswagen Mass. Happened.
      Holland World Cup Mass (with orange vestments). Happened.

      • Mark Windsor

        I’ve heard of everything but the Volkswagen Mass.

      • Will

        And I thought Mark Schweizer was crazy with the “Pirate Eucharist”. (It’s like a clown eucharist, only instead of clowns….)
        Who was forklifted, the celebrant or the communicants?

        How about a Monty Python Mass? Then the Colonel can stomp in and announce “This mass is silly, and I’m stopping it right now!”

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          >>>How about a Monty Python Mass?

          Concelebrated by Cardinals Biggles and Fang?

  • Bryan
  • Pathfinder’s wife

    If you will permit this apostate to weigh in:

    Perhaps Catholics should look to JPII’s words on immodesty as a good tool for discerning the rightness or wrongness of Francis’ foot washing (as it seems as though this brings up feelings in some that what the new Pope has done is immodest, and thus will pave the way for more immodesty and behaviors of the like.
    I would agree that clown masses, etc. are immodest — they wind up making a mockery of the Mass and turn the priesthood into showmanship hucksterism for an irreverent and ignorant congregation who wants circuses with their bread and wine. This could be likened to the person who displays their body for the shock factor.
    But did this foot washing really partake in that? Or did it reflect a more core Church teaching, did it reflect a grace upon the Church? Was it really for bread and circuses shock factor like a Superman mass? Was it perhaps not immodest at all? — as the human body of itself isn’t immodest, though many have mistakenly begun to believe that (perhaps understandably in this modern age of relativism).
    Perhaps Francis didn’t change the rubrics because he has no intentions of doing so — perhaps he was merely showing that there is more that can and should be done, that which points to core doctrine of the Church alongside what is traditional, and that these things too can be avenues towards a greater fulfilling of the grace of the Church, and that both what is deemed tradition and what is deemed progressive, if both add to the dignity of the Church and a greater understanding and celebration of God’s grace, have their seasons.
    In which case, there really is no need to fight about this…just an opinion.

    • Art

      But did this foot washing really partake in that? Or did it reflect a more core Church teaching, did it reflect a grace upon the Church?

      No it did not, it reflected more of the core Church teaching. However, that is not the point, my point is you have rad trads being one way and libs being another way. Somebody like myself is just questioning why not bash both the rad trad and the libs for misunderstanding it.

  • rachel

    My heart is heavy in seeing all the contention over a beautiful, loving act. Does the rubric need to change? Probably. Is there a reason to go hysterical over this? No. I’m with you Mark and you have my prayers. I see that Pope Francis’s actions have overturned some big rocks lurking in the Church. Over a decade ago, it was the sex abuse scandals. Now, its some of the deep seated attitudes from certain segments who think that they are better Catholics than anyone else. I’ve seen these attitudes before (sadly, in trad circles) and it is painful to see. We are all Catholics, weather we go to the ordinary or extraordinary rites. For too long we have stayed in our little balkanized enclaves. I know there are some trads who want to remain in their little exclusive clubs and forget that the Church is much bigger than their groups. So many people are hurting and are in need of love. Pope Francis is aware of this which is why he reaches out to the least and the marginalized, especially in the prisons. God bless our pope and please, can’t we try to love each other???

    • Art

      I agree Rachel, there are some trads who want to remain in their little circle as well as some libs who want to infiltrate the Church on any simplistic action in the name of Change and Progress.

  • Jamie R

    Antinomianism cuts both ways. The people who think they need to torture terrorists to protect American lives also think “law is made for man, not man for the law.”

    Pope Francis sent two really clear messages. The first is a powerful image of humility and service. The second is a powerful image of not needing to obey Church law. Just because the first message is good doesn’t mean the second doesn’t need correcting.

  • ajesquire

    I think Jimmy Akin is one of the people most responsible for turning folks into Liturgy Police and, if not creating, then at least stoking their obsessions with what everyone else in the church is doing during Mass at the expense of actually being present themselves at the Mass.

    I would hope that being on the receiving end of this behavior via his combox will prompt some reflection on his part about why, or at least how, he continues to foment these Keystone Kops.

    • Art

      I love his work! He does a great job!

      • ajesquire

        I think he’s good on some things. But, it seems to me at least, that sometimes he comes across as overly academic at the expense of the spiritual reality behind the tenets of the Faith. I’m not saying that’s his personal attitude, but just that he seems to prioritize the goal of apologetics as intellectual debate rather than conversion of hearts.

        I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard people call the radio show, of which he’s “chief apologist” (or some such title) fretting over whether they can actually attend their child’s wedding in a non-Catholic church, or whether they should turn the local Pastor in over their insistence of baptizing babies at the altar rather than the threshold of the church.

        • Stu

          Yes, I’m confident the someone, somewhere is calling him a pharisee as well.

        • Mark Shea

          I think you are very unfair to Jimmy. The fact is, the people who strain at gnats and swallow camels exist and need to hear from a level head. Jimmy is that level head. What is wrong with him making himself available to help them distinguish major from minor? Otherwise, all they have are other internet hysterics. What you are doing is blaming the doctor because sick people keep coming to him.

  • Hereticorum Interfector

    “P. FRANCISCVS ECCLESIAE VASTATOR”

    OWN IT.

    Say what you want, Mark, but Francis is no friend to orthodoxy, let alone so-called “traditionalists”. The Roman Catholic Church is in ruin. Francis’ “kumbaya” approach isn’t going to repair it, either. We need to return to the days of leveling anathemas and calling for crusades. We need real men in the papacy, not this weak liberal. Francis makes JPII look like John Wayne.

  • Caroline

    Do the rubrics say anything about who should lug in the water, clean up the spills, lug out the water, cleanse the bowls, and wash the towels?

  • Defensor Veritatis

    “Hereticorum Interfector”- Wake up. Ordinary or extraordinary form, there is only one Mass. Period. And no, you are not entitled to an opinion about that. To defame the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Ordinary Form by calling it “worthless” is as blasphemous and sacreligious as any clown skit. Also, how dare Mark presume to know that you haven’t “taken up the sonship” offered by Jesus? I dunno, but how dare you presume to know the pope’s intent in choosing to wash those people’s feet. How dare you presume that Blessed Pope John Paul the Second “loved the limelight.” You may disagree with our Holy Fathers, past and present, but is a dishonorable and unmanly thing to question their character based on your own presuppositions of their motives. If you feel burdened or scandalized by our Holy Father’s actions, then offer it up to the Lord. Pray and do penance for him. He needs that far more than your venom.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Ed Peters

    Hi Mark. I don’t think you were talking about me, but I do think that I and other “sober critics” have been painted with the same brush aimed at the nutties out there. Oh well.

    A substantive point (among very many that could be made), you write: “The washing of feet on Holy Thursday is not a sacrament. It is an optional rite that is rooted in a gesture done by Jesus in order to teach.” This comes dangerously close to accepting a premise apparently, but wrongly, accepted by Fr. Lombadri, namely, that only the rules on sacraments ‘really’ bind. That, I suggest, is a very dangerous path to suggest for others. Religious profession, for example, is not a sacrament, but who would suggest its rules can be lightly waived? And yes, I know there are differences. Anyway…on to other things. Best, edp.

  • Joannie

    I think that like most things that happen in the Church there are two sided to every event. On one side you could say that this was a practice that the new Pope brought along from his native homeland of Argentina so like his other actions he is simply trying to adjust to his new role as the Bishop of Rome, and since it was not a liturgical event there probably is not all that serious. On the other hand as some canon lawyers have pointed out that the Pope has a triple role of Priest Prophet and King. As Priest he is in charge of liturgical matters and must make sure that if he does something that could be misunderstood or misinterpreted by the Media be avoided as much as possible. So I think we need to learn from this experience and try to be more clear as many are already confused about not just the Mass but the Faith itself and everything it entails.

  • David Zelenka

    When we encounter Christ Jesus his two-edged sword can discern joints, marrow and the heart as John’s Revelation explains. What we’re seeing here is just that. Some see a man filled with love and compassion. Some see a trickster and hate. Others see a new tool for their agenda. And the most pitiable fill the seats in the Colosseum hoping to witness some good gore.

    Through Christ-like action, and our interpretation of it, we find out more about our sin. If we look carefully in our own heart, we will be appalled and we will repent. Then with repentance we come yet closer to our beloved Christ.

    I expect that Pope Francis will be just that. He (through Christ) will help us discern our hearts. We need more repentance and less arguing.

    When we argue we are usually justifying our sin. Christ Jesus will justify that which is righteous. We have no need to justify ourselves to others or to him.

  • David

    I am not trying to advocate one practice or another regarding foot washing, but we seem to need a common sense reminder that a lone canonist’s opinion- Pete Vere’s- is hardly authoritative, yet it is cited as though it were; which seems to indicate that the truth is not the ultimate goal here, but the desire to promote one’s own opinion. For example, it is stated that simply beause Vere opines that the Pope’s actions now make the practice law, then it must be so and the case is now closed. Really? As a canonist myself I could easily argue against Vere’s claims, although Ed Peters has just made a recent post on his site already addressing some of them. There are many canonists who would disagree that Francis’ actions have abrogated the law. It seems people are trying to bend over backwards to not want the Pope to appear untraditional, and in the process they want to avoid the unpleasant and difficult debate over exactly what his actions mean, which is more complex than Vere makes it out to be. This is a disservice to canon law, certainly.

    • Mark Shea

      It was cited because Vere knows more than I do. Peters is linked here for the same reason.

      • David

        However, you again cite Vere as authoritative, not merely as a particular opinion. For example, you state that because of his opinion, the debate is allegedly “now a moot point.” How could this be said if you wanted to allow for other opinions that opposed your conclusion? I don’t see how it could.

        • Mark Shea

          That’s because he’s an actual canon lawyer. So yes. He’s authoritative. So is Ed Peters. I’m not authoritative. So I just leave my reader to follow (or not) their discussion.


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