Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, March 21, 2008


It is the tradition of my bishop to gather all of his seminarians at the Cathedral to serve for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday.  It seems appropriate enough considering the fact that the mass commemorates the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist.  While I appreciate the opportunity to gather with my seminarian brothers and the Bishop, this year I was most deeply moved by the washing of the feet.  My bishop is a good man, and he has been good to me, even as I have tried his patience and generosity with my own foibles on occasion.  I suspect that I am not alone when I admit that I find him to be intimidating at times.  Such a reaction to him was placed in a different perspective, though, as I watched him wash the feet of his people.  He removed his chasuble (all priests do as far as I can ascertain).  Then, he removed his pectoral cross - a sign of his office as Bishop.  Finally, he removed his stole, a sign of his authority.  Then, on hands and knees, after the model of Christ, he washed and dried the feet of those brought forward for that purpose.  In that moment, it was more clear to me than ever the true nature of the episcopacy.

Oftentimes when we discuss authority, we approach it in terms of power.  The one with authority has power over me, we tend to assume.  This, however, is not a full picture of the authority envisioned by Jesus Christ.  As he shows us, authority is truly demonstrated by crawling about on one's knees, washing feet, and pouring out one's life for the sake of others and for the sake of the Kingdom.

The word humility implies lowliness.  Its etymology is a literal reference to the ground.  One seldom sees another closer to the ground than when that other has knelt to wash feet. Humility, foot-washing, is constitutive of authority.


J. Thorp said...

I've been struck lately by the similarities in what makes a good religious servant and what makes a good soldier. And back before WWII, Hemingway had a newspaper column in which he made the case for electing a president without ambition -- because people who have power but no humility tend to cause trouble ...

Just rambling -- I might have to post on this once I get my head together.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That would be very heart-warming to see a bishop do that. ITs shows what their ministry is all about.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Tyler: This is a great post.

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