Thursday, April 13, 2006

Holy Thursday

Today was the first day of the Easter Triduum, aka the Choral Marathon Extravaganza for those of us in the choir. Holy Thursday is the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The gospel reading is from John 13, where Jesus washes the disciples feet and commands them to serve each other likewise. After the homily follows the foot-washing; at Incarnation, the RCIA candidates/catechumens and sponsors, along with the priests, wash whoever wants their feet washed, and other people can take over the foot-washing if they wish. It's sweet to see couples and families wash each other's feet. (I didn't know until after a couple of Easters that it's traditional, and probably more liturgically correct, for the priest to wash the feet of twelve men, but I don't quite understand why it would have to be that way.) Because I was singing, because Justin and I couldn't see each other, because I was under the impression (rather correct) that he was uneasy about public foot-washing, we didn't wash each other's feet. But maybe next year, or after that.

The other beautiful thing about the Holy Thursday mass is the procession of the holy sacrament from the church to the chapel. The choir walks down a hallway lit with candles and sings "Pange Lingua," and there's a really pretty harmony that the sopranos do. Spine-tingling. We sing it at Corpus Christi too (as I wrote back in May), but it's so much more moving after dark.

There was an article in the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago about the resurgence of the foot-washing ritual in some Protestant denominations. I've never seen it except in the Catholic Church. I wonder now, especially since Jesus says explicitly in the Gospel that he has done it as an example so that the disciples do likewise, why Protestants don't do it more often. Why is that? Is it just because feet are icky, or is there some kind of theological explanation? (This isn't a belligerant question. I never really thought about it before I was Catholic, and now I don't know why it didn't cross my mind.)

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