Catholics mark holy event

MORE than 500 Catholics gathered at the Holy Family Catholic church in Labasa on Thursday night to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorating the washing of the feet.

The washing of the feet is a task that Jesus performed as one of his last acts on earth and delivers an important message of humility for Christians.

Holy Family Catholic church’s Father John Ryan reminded members of the church on the importance of cleanliness because it was instructed to them in the holy texts of the time.

“Today, we understand the scientific basis behind the ancient rules which demanded people be clean in their interactions,” he said.

Father Ryan said in the ancient world, even more than now, feet were dirty things.

“Having clean feet, especially when entering a place, was important,” he said.

Father Ryan reminded members of the church that to be empowered they had to serve one another.

“We are called to service, not to preach but to service and we honour the memory of Jesus by his service and at the service of others, it’s as simple as helping one another, caring and empowering one another,” he said.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the ritual washing of feet is now associated with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which celebrates in a special way the Last Supper of Jesus, before which he washed the feet of his twelve apostles.

Evidence for the practice on this day goes back at least to the latter half of the 12th century, when “the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner”.

From 1570 to 1955, the Roman Missal printed, after the text of the Holy Thursday Mass, a rite of washing of feet unconnected with the Mass.

In 1955 Pope Pius XII revised the ritual and inserted it into the Mass. Since then, the rite is celebrated after the homily that follows the reading of the gospel account of how Jesus washed the feet of his twelve apostles (John 13:1—15). Some persons who have been selected — usually twelve, but the Roman Missal does not specify the number — are led to chairs prepared in a suitable place. The priest goes to each and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and dries them. There are some advocates of restricting this ritual to clergy or at least men.

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