Oh Friends, What a lovely afternoon I’ve had.
I am having my feet washed tonight at church — more on that later.
But, in order not to have totally scary feet (trust me) I decided to get a pedicure. (The foot washing invitation was a little last minute, so I had to do it today.)
Got a wonderful massage, parrafin wax, polish, etc. Also, I got about an hour to knit! This was a true revelation — pedicure + knitting = double digit sensory pleasure! Hopefully the pink is both Lent-mellow while still being somewhat Easter-happy. (Something tells me the first apostles were not considering the color of their polish when this sacrament was instituted.) On the needles: a first communion shawl for Violet, in mohair/silk yarn with random stripes of a ribbon-y yarn.
So, the washing of the feet:
Wanting to be sure I got my etiquette right, I did some online searching, only to discover that there is something of a controversy on the subject of washing women’s feet. Some maintain that, according to the documents on the proper order of the liturgy for Holy Thursday, men are the only ones who should have their feet washed. (FYI, the practice is for the priest to wash the feet of the parish leadership, as Jesus washed the feet of his apostles.) The Church says:
Depending on pastoral circumstance, the washing of feet follows the homily. The men who have been chosen (viri selecti) are led by the ministers to chairs prepared at a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers he pours water over each one’s feet and dries them.
As you might expect, the whole thing turns on “viri selecti”, which some priests insist means only men should participate. “Viri” means “men,” they argue, and take it from there that by “viri” the old church author really meant “soli viri” (only men).
How much do you want to bet that these same guys are first in line to argue against inclusive language, saying that “man” or “he” already includes everyone, along with these guys:
Standard generic English usage, as it has been universally used and understood by speakers of English for approximately the last one thousand years, in certain well-understood contexts already includes women — and children too for that matter. Standard English does not “relegate” anyone to any place, except in the minds of aggrieved feminists and those influenced by them.
Anyhoo, I quote all this to say that at first I was really nervous and uncertain about the whole foot washing thing. Even if I had gorgeous feet, it’s really intimate, really humbling for both washer and wash-ee, and really public. But once I discovered the “controversy” I said, “Hell Yes, Wash My Feet, [insert crude word]!”
In truth, I won’t be thinking about Fr. Latin-Mass-Only (nothing against Latin!) or Archbishop Feminists-Give-Me-Nightmares. The work I’ve done as part of my parish’s leadership has been some of the most powerful, life-changing stuff I’ve ever done, and the people of my parish are My People, my Body of Christ. I bring them my pink toes and calloused heels to kick off the Triduum.