Free Catholic Webinar Class: Catholic Rome and Papacy 101

You’re invited to this week’s NSTI Catholic Webinar class on Rome and the Early Papacy 101.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. This class is complimentary; however, space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Early Papacy 101 Class with Dr Marshall

YOU WILL DISCOVER INFO ABOUT:

  • The Old Testament and Rome
  • Tradition of Peter in Rome
  • Popes after Peter in Rome
  • Importance of St Clement of Rome
  • The Power of the Bishop of Rome in 2nd Century
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a pdf Handout on these Catholic topics.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. Space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Register here button

Why Did Jesus Wash the Feet of the Apostles? Pope Francis, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine

Recently the Catholic Church has been wrestling with the significance of foot washing – the liturgical reenactment of Christ washing the feet of His Apostles on the night before He was betrayed.

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The Council of Elvira (Spain, AD 305) prohibited the washing of feet because heretical ideas were being associated with it: “The feet of the newly baptized are not to be washed by the priests or clerics” (Elvira 48). Saint Ambrose of Milan, against this rulings of the Council, considered foot washing to be “sacrament” of great importance. In Milan and other places, “foot washing” was a prelude to sacramental baptism.

The Albigensian heretics held foot washing in high esteem and assigned to it a theological importance without parallel in the orthodox Catholic Church. Up until the last century, Popes, Abbots, and Kings would wash the feet of the poor as a sign of humility and servant leadership. More on that later.

Foot Washing Enters the Mass in 1955

Up until 60 years ago, the custom of foot washing did not appear in the Roman Eucharistic liturgy. Until 1955, the Roman Missal included a rite of foot washing detached from the Mass. Pope Pius XII was the first Pope to have foot washing included in the Mass and it was stipulated that it would be the feet of men, presumably as a sign of the male-only priesthood.

Hence, foot washing is relatively new liturgical rite. 

In 2013, Pope Francis washed the feet of two women and non-Christians (Muslims) at a juvenile detention center in Rome 2013. Pope Francis revised the direction of the Roman Missal in 2016 to include men and women as a sign of inclusion.

Theology of Foot Washing? Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine:

I wrote a well-known book on Judaism and Catholicism that covers the liturgical and sacramental connections between the Old Testament and Catholic Christianity called The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. It’s a popular text now in Catholic schools and seminaries. You can read reviews of it on amazon here.Crucified Rabbi Look InsideUnfortunately, I did not include a section on foot washing. So here goes:

Saint Jerome in his Epistle to Pope Damasus states that Christ washed His Apostles’ feet to prepare them for the preaching of the gospel, in fulfillment to the prophecy of Isaiah:

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, of them that bring good tidings.” (Isa. 52:7)

The Apostles were ordained as sacerdotal priests at the Last Supper and so the foot washing is to prepare them to carry the Gospel to foreign lands. It’s a commissioning rite to “preach the Gospel of peace.”

Saint Ambrose associates the foot washing to original sin and the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 since it is with “the heel” that the Messiah and His followers will crush Satan’s head:

“Because Adam was tripped up by the devil and the venom was poured out over thy feet, therefore dost thou wash thy feet that in that part where the serpent ensnared thee there may be added the more abundant aid of sanctification, so that he be not able to trip thee up hereafter.” Saint Ambrose De Sacramentis3, 1)

Saint Augustine and Cyprian associate the washing of feet with the removal of venial sins. This is why Christ says: “He that has been washed needs not but to wash his feet, but is clean throughout.” The Apostles were already baptized. Peter asks for a second baptism (his head) but Christ refuses. The Apostles had already been baptized and their sins removed, however, the lower sins that trip us up also have to be remitted before receiving the Holy Eucharist. Hence, the foot washing was a liturgical penitential rite prior to the First Communion of the Apostles.

Is Right to Allow Women?

Prior to Francis, the men chosen to receive foot washing symbolized the 12 Apostles. As described above, foot washing seems to be a priestly rite preparing the Apostles to have the “beautiful feet” foretold by Isaiah. Since men alone can be Catholic priests, only men were chosen for the washing of feet.

One might argue, however, that Christ calls all men and women to proclaim the Gospel with beautiful feet. Proclaiming or sharing the Good News is not exclusively a sacerdotal action. Moreover, Saint Paul states that all Christians are called to crush Satan under their (beautiful) feet (Rom 16:19). The Coptic liturgy includes the act of the priest washing the feet of the entire congregation! So there is liturgical precedent for including women in the washing of the feet.

Is it Right to Allow Non-Christians?

What I cannot reconcile theologically is the act of washing the feet of non-baptized members of other religions, namely adherents of Islam, within the Eucharistic liturgy. Peter’s words and Christ’s response presume that the recipients are “washed already,” that is, baptized. Foot washing is an intra-baptized experience.

There is precedent for foot washing as a pre-baptismal rite (in the catechetical context of Easter baptisms), but it’s not clear that the Muslims receiving papal foot washing are preparing for baptism.

My personal belief is that foot washings should be returned to their pre-1955 status. Popes, Abbots, Kings, Presidents, parents, et al. can wash the feet of anyone they like as a sign of humility outside the Eucharistic liturgical rites of the Church.

If a Pope or King washes the feet of another outside of the liturgy, then it is simply a sign of humility. When it’s placed inside the context of Eucharistic liturgy, then we strain to attach a theological meaning to it…and that’s where we run into trouble.

If we want to show outward acts of “inclusion” to the non-baptized, we could give give them blessed bread or other gifts. Or we could wash their feet in contexts that aren’t sacramental. 

Question: I would love to hear your thoughts on foot washing. Please keep the comments respectful. No bashing of the Vicar of Christ on earth. He is our Holy Father. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Your 5 Challenges for Holy Week

We have entered the final lap of Lent. As we prepare to party, feast, and celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, here are some final challenges for Holy Week:

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1) Read the entire Gospel of Saint John. John is the Holy Week Gospel par excellence. Read it from beginning to end. It’s only 25 pages long. Read it.

2) Attend two of the three major liturgies this week: Maundy on Thursday evening, Good Friday, or Paschal Vigil on Saturday night.

3) Bring a non-Catholic friend to one of these liturgies. These are powerful liturgies…in the Year of Mercy. Be prepared for conversions.

4) On Good Friday, perform a complete

Why are Catholics Weaker than Evangelicals?

When it comes to voting patterns, premarital sex, birth rates, literacy, earning income, divorce rates, approval of abortion, approval of homosexuality…you name it…Evangelicals as a demographic group conform more to Catholic social positions than Catholics themselves as a demographic group.

Here’s a recent study from Pew Research. Check the graphic results regarding birth rate, cohabitation, and homosexuality:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.52.47 AM

So why do Evangelicals (as a group) have a stronger Catholic worldview than Catholics (as a group) on moral teachings?

Having once been a Protestant Evangelical, the answer is obvious. Evangelicals read and study the Bible and they are weekly told that they should be studying the Bible.

The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Word. It’s is powerful

The Bible teaches the reader about sex, war, capital punishment, marriage, male/female polarity, the mandate to evangelize your neighbor, the custom of giving tithes and offerings at church and to the poor, the disgrace and shame of sexual promiscuity, the importance of children, the dangers of debt and bad business deals, and the reality that the judgment of God falls on a people who do not obey God.

If you read this message daily, you will be a better formed human person. If you do not, you will not be as well formed.

I love the Holy Eucharist. I attend daily Mass. I love the sacraments. I love Our Lady. Those of you that read me and listen, know all this to be true:

But if you aren’t reading the Bible and your children aren’t reading the Bible, you’re screwed. 

I know “screwed” is strong language, but I wanted to use the strongest word I could to communicate how important this is. The history of using such language to warn the people of God goes back to Ezekiel.

Get on a plan and read the whole Bible. When you’re finished with Revelation, start over and do it again.

Facebook, Drudge, and Real Clear will not properly form you. You need divine instruction. Get out that Bible and read it daily. Start by reading all four Gospels and the Book of Proverbs. Leave me a comment below, when you’ve finished reading each of the Four Holy Gospels and the Book of Proverbs.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

101: Jewish Priests and Catholic Priests [Podcast]

My goal this week is to talk with you about the theology of priesthood – from the Old Testament and how it relates to the Catholic Priesthood.

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#101: Jewish Priests and Catholic Priests [Podcast]

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  • Proverb of the Week: Sirach 7:31
  • Featured Segment: 101 Jewish Priests and Catholic Priests
  • Tip of the Week: Front Load Your day
  • Announcements:
    • Maccabee Society
    • Sword and Serpent 2 will be released in 2016.
    • Download the Study Guide at: http://swordandserpent.com
    • Life Prep 2016
    • 2015 Enrollment for New Saint Thomas Institute is now open. If you’d like to enroll with online Catholic classes and earn your Certificate in Catholic Theology, learn more by clicking here: Newsaintthomas.com
    • We have just begun our Catholic Church History curriculum for 2016. Enrollment ends Jan 28, the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
    • Please visit: newsaintthomas.com for more details.
  • Latin Phrase of the Week: Sacerdos

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