Thursday, March 13, 2008

Maundy Thursday: washing of women's feet NOT allowed

Local action as appropriate.

From Fr Z (see his whole post): 'the Latin rubrics for the foot washing rite has words viri selecti, “chosen men”. If you have been properly informed about this, to insist that “men” (viri) means “men and women” is really to lie. Homo or plural homines might be argued to be of both sexes, but absolutely not vir.

If you have been informed that vir means only "men" and that excludes boys or youths, then you were probably misinformed. Vir refers to a person’s sex, not his age. There are specific Latin words to indicate categories of age in males, such as puer, adolescens, iuvenis and senex. The word vir can tempt a strict interpretaion of "man" in the sense of "adult male", but that would be too strict. Also, while clearly the Apostles were men, not boys or youths, the point is that they were "male", not that they were this age or that age. The Apostles were present in the Upper Room because they were chosen by Christ to be priests. And there is only a juridical, not an ontological, limitation on the age a male can be ordained.

In any event, this whole debate has been cleared up more than once by the Holy See, especially in the 1988 document Paschales sollemnitatis of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. The rubrics of the 2002 Missale Romanum retain the viri selecti.

Legally, linguistically, and theologically the issue is clear.

No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change this.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen