Tag Archives: Maundy Thursday

It’s not about the bunny!

It's not about the bunny!


the Easter Bunny comes from pagan rites of spring – new life, fertility etc, – but more from pagan Germany than pagan Britain. Eighteenth-century German settlers brought “Oschter Haws” to America, where Pennsylvania Dutch settlers prepared nests for him in the garden or barn. On Easter Eve, the rabbit laid his coloured eggs in the nests in payment. In Germany, old Oschter lays red eggs on Maundy Thursday.

Children in the countyside are wise when it comes to reproduction, observing it first-hand in the animals and hens around them every day.   Why would children in an agrarian society believe a rabbit lays eggs?!!!

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April 20, 2014 · 10:30

Maundy Thursday – Foot Washing

From God’s Politics blog by Jim Wallace and friends via Sojourners

When Pope Francis Washes Women’s Feet, Arguments Follow. Who’s Right?
by David Gibson 04-15-2014

>On Thursday evening, in a familiar reprise of an ancient rite, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis., will wash the feet of 12 men, all seminarians — a re-creation of Jesus’ action at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of his disciples and, according to Catholic doctrine, formally instituted the priesthood.

That same evening, thousands of miles away, Pope Francis will also observe the Holy Thursday rite, though not in a cathedral like Morlino but at a center for people with disabilities. There he will wash the feet of a number of residents, all lay people and perhaps some of them women and even non-Christians or nonbelievers.

Francis did something similar last year, shortly after his election, when he stunned church observers by traveling to a juvenile detention center outside Rome and washing the feet of 12 young people, two of them women and two of them Muslims.

More than a few tradition-minded Catholics were aghast at the pope’s example and they welcomed Morlino’s effort to hold the line against innovations, at least in his Wisconsin diocese.

“The Church’s law says that only men may be the recipients of this foot washing,” wrote the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a scrappy blogger popular with the Catholic right. “Morlino’s guidelines” — that his priests must wash the feet of 12 men or not do the foot washing at all — “do nothing but reiterate the Church’s laws, which bishops and priests are obliged to follow.”

So who’s correct?

Is the pope a dissenter? Or are Morlino and others being legalistic? What does the foot washing ritual represent, anyway?

There are no simple answers to those questions, though the weight of history and custom — not to mention authority — seems to be on the pope’s side.

An ancient rite

Accounts of Christian foot washing rituals go back as far as the sixth century. As Peter Jeffrey writes in his 1985 book, A New Commandment: Toward a Renewed Rite for the Washing of Feet, there were generally two forms: the “Mandatum Pauperam,” or washing of the feet of poor people, and the “Mandatum Fratrum,” the washing of the feet of “the brothers.”

Neither were part of the Holy Thursday liturgy, and popes and clerics routinely washed the feet of poor people as a sign of service and humility. In convents, as well, “woman washed feet and had their feet washed,” and they washed the feet of guests and children, said Rita Ferrone, the author of several books about liturgy and a consultant to U.S. dioceses on liturgical matters.

“Foot washing does have a long tradition,” Ferrone said, “and it didn’t exclude women up until 1955.”

That’s when Pope Pius XII simplified the Holy Week rites, a reform that included folding the foot washing ritual into the Holy Thursday Mass before marking Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.

The problem is that back then, Catholic women were not allowed into the restricted space near the altar and, unlike today, they could not have any part in the Mass. So the rule was that 12 chosen men — “viri selecti” in the Latin — would have their feet washed by the priest or bishop.

With that change, the foot washing rite also came to be seen as a kind of re-creation of the Last Supper and the institution of the priesthood.

“The tradition was not to have it be a dramatization of what Jesus did at the last Supper but to be a response to the command to humble service,” Ferrone said.

Modernizing reforms

While the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s ushered in numerous reforms, including of the liturgy, the rule on only washing the feet of men was never addressed.

But in the 1970s, in an effort to reflect the new openness of the church, bishops and priests in many dioceses simply ignored the old regulation and began washing the feet of lay people, including women. Sometimes there were a dozen, sometimes more.
Indeed, there is a photograph of Pope Francis, when he was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, washing the feet of women with babies, some of whom were breast-feeding.

Today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledges the letter of the law but stresses that the rite aims to signify both charity and “humble service” rather than a re-enactment of the foundation of the priesthood. It drops any reference to washing the feet of 12 people (the number of the disciples) and notes that “it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world.”

So in that sense, it is a return to a more ancient tradition, and very much in line with what Pope Francis is doing.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said Tuesday that Francis’ decision to include women and nonbelievers was meant as a gesture “to embrace those who were on the fringes of society.” The official rules, he said, can sometimes be a distraction from “the profound messages of the Gospels and of the Lord of the Church.”

Still, this is the Catholic Church, and rules are rules. Even though a Vatican spokesman last year said Francis’ decision to wash the feet of women and Muslims on Holy Thursday was “absolutely licit” because it did not entail a sacrament, canon lawyer Edward Peters said that Francis set a “questionable example” by ignoring church law.

Peters, a blogger popular with church conservatives and a supporter of the rule, said it would be better to change the rule rather than risk undermining the rule of law by flouting it.

There are, of course, others who would like to see the current rule maintained and enforced the way Morlino does, and not just to maintain good order in the church.

“This is being used by those who wish to make a point about holy orders being reserved to men,” Ferrone said. The debate over the Holy Thursday foot washing, she said, “becomes yet another occasion for people who would like to see women excluded from the sanctuary.”

David Gibson writes for Religion News Service. Via RNS.


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April 17, 2014 · 15:31


The Meenister’s Log

The mini-bus came to a halt in the church car park in this beautiful rural part of Scotland, and out came a dozen members of a “Christian Youth Group”  unexpected and unprepared for.  And it happened to be a Sunday when Holy Communion was being celebrated.

I noticed that a couple of our visitors had slight learning difficulties.

During the sermon, one could be heard saying to the Group Leader, “when do we get the coffee?”

“Hush – afterwards”

Then, the Communion…… these small individual glasses… the same voice from the body of the kirk: “Is that it?  Where’s the coffee?”

One of his pals at least had the courtesy to raise his glass in a toast and say”Cheers!”


In my first year in  my very first congregation, on the Thursday of Holy Week I visited several members of my flock who were housebound. to give  them Holy Communion.  Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I recalled that the celebrant – in this case, myself , had to finish off what was left of the “consecrated” wine  (not in fact a Presbyterian practice).  So, back at he manse, the afternoon’s exercise finished, I chugged back more than half a bottle of cheap fortified wine……….

…….. in parenthesis: in student days, a pal got a day job during the University holidays, working in an off-sales booze shop in a kind of insalubrious area of Glasgow.  This down-and-out came in one day, asking for a bottle of “Thunderbird”

“Red or White, Sir?”

“Disnae matter, son, it’s awe wan” came the connoisseur’s answer………

…….. so, having polished off his warm, sticky, sickly uber-alcoholic cheapo pant-stripper, I then set off to be the guest preacher at the local Episcopalian Church for its Maunday Thursday evening service.

I truly cannot remember what I preached about ….  and perhaps just as well.


Fast forward many years… and it was the custom of one of my Kirk Sessions to create a “cocktail” of the dregs of previous Communion wines, mixing an assortment of previous “left-overs” into one bottle (and, yes, it tasted foul)

The day following Communion was known as “skitters Monday” amongst those who has partaken of the Sunday’s Sacrament.


A drunk staggered down the main street of the town. Somehow he managed to make it up the stairs to a cathedral and into the entrance, where he crashed from pew to pew, finally making his way to a side aisle and into a confessional.

A priest had observed all this, and figured the fellow needed some help, so he entered his side of the confessional. After the priest sat there in deathly silence, he finally asked, “May I help you, my son?”

“I dunno,” came the drunk’s voice from behind the partition. “You got any toilet paper on your side?”


Visiting Parishioners some years ago in an old fashioned “Nightingale Ward” I came came across  a particular gentleman who was notorious for overindulgence in a “wee refreshment” on the regular basis .

Our visit was just about over when he asked me to go to an off-sales same five minutes away to buy him a bottle of whisky.  Despite my protestations, he insisted on pressing a ten pound note into my hand – and added, cryptically, “And a bottle of Irn Bru for yourself”

So, here’s this wee meenister, resplendent in dog-collar, sneakily   smuggling a bottle of Bells (and a small plastic bottle of Scotland’s other national drink) back into the Ward whence he came.

“Right!  Get that down you,” he said, indicating the warm soft drink.

“Just a sip, perhaps?”

“The lot!” sounding almost belligerent.

So there I am in suit and dog collar standing, surrounded by other curious patients, chugging on a bottle of Irn Bru.

I eventually finished it and was about to throw the empty plastic bottle into the waste bin, when he grabbed it out of my hand and deftly and steadily refilled it with some of his whisky.

Taking an almighty slug followed by a ferocious burp – he wheezed “Cheers!  See you next week” [then, somewhat ominously, “if not before}

If anyone had found out that I’d been involved in such bootlegging, I surely would have been “uncorked” by the Kirk Authorities!

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