Holy Thursday: Lord Jesus, Wash Not Only My Feet…

Holy Thursday

“Come, then, Lord Jesus, put off Your garments, which You put on for my sake; be stripped that You may clothe us with Your mercy. Gird Yourself for our sakes with a towel, that You may gird us with Your gift of immortality. Pour water into the basin, wash not only our feet but also the head, and not only of the body, but also the footsteps of the soul. I wish to put off all the filth of our frailty, so that I also may say: “By night I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them (Song 5:3)?”  How great is that excellence! As a servant, You wash the feet of Your disciples; as God, You send Dew from heaven.”  (St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit)

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The washing of the disciples feet:

Jesus Washing the Feet of Apostle Peter

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. And so He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:3-9)

Wisdom for Free and Untroubled Prayer

Staretz Saint Silouan of Mount Athos“Many people like to read good books, and this is right, but it is best of all to pray; while he who reads newspapers or bad books destines his soul to go hungry—hungry because the food of the soul and her true satisfaction are in God. He who would pray freely and untroubled must keep himself in ignorance of the news in newspapers, nor should he read mean books or be curious to know the details of other people’s lives. All these things fill the mind with thoughts that stain, and when one would try to sort them out they further entangle and weary. Now in God are life, joy, gladness, and the Lord loves us ineffably, and this love is made known by the Holy Spirit.”   (Startez Silouan, Wisdom from Mount Athos, pg. 83, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press)

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Sums Up All Righteousness

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:36-40).”

Justin Martyr, Jesus Sums of RighteousnessJustin Martyr: “For God sets before every race of mankind that which is always and universally just, as well as all righteousness. Every race knows that adultery, and fornication, and homicide, and such things (Matt. 15:18-19; Mark 7:20-22, 10:19; Ex. 20:12-17; Deut. 5:16-21) are sinful; and though they all commit such practices, they still do not escape from the knowledge that they act unrighteously whenever they do so, except for those who are possessed with an unclean spirit and who have been debased by education, by wicked customs, by sinful institutions, and who have lost, or rather quenched and buried their natural conscience. For we may see that such persons are unwilling to submit to the same things which they inflict upon others, and reproach each other with hostile consciences for the acts which they perpetrate.

“Consequently, I think that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke well when He summed up all righteousness and piety  in two commandments. They are these: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself (Mark 12:30-31, Matt. 22:37-39, Luke 10:27, Deut. 6:5).” For the man who loves God with all his heart and with all his strength, being filled with a God-fearing mind, will reverence no other god (Ex. 20:2-6, Deut. 5:6-11, Matt. 4:10, Luke 4:8)…. And the man who loves his neighbor as himself will wish for him the same good things that he wishes for himself, for no man will wish evil things for himself. Accordingly, he who loves his neighbor would pray and labor that his neighbor may be possessed of the same benefits as himself…. Therefore, since all righteousness is divided into two branches in so far as it regards God and men; whoever, says the Scripture, loves the Lord God with all the heart and all the strength, and his neighbor as himself, would be truly a righteous man.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho Ch. 92, 132-135 A.D. Scripture references added for all who want to read these truths directly from the written and living Word of God.)

+ Justin Martyr, Pray for us +

Faith, Your Most Precious Possession

The Archbishops and Bishops of the United States in Conference assembled, to their Clergy and faithful people — Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Venerable Brethren of the Clergy,
Beloved Children of the Laity:

“We would have you always bear in mind that your faith is your most precious possession and the foundation of your spiritual life, since “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). Without faith, the outward forms of worship avail us nothing, the sacraments are beyond our reach, the whole plan and effect of redemption is made void. It behooves us, then, to guard with jealous care the treasure of faith by thankfulness to God for so great a gift and by loyalty to “the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The fact that unbelief is so common, that the firm and definite teaching of Christian truth is so often replaced by vague uncertain statements, and that even these are left to individual preference for acceptance or rejection — In a word, the fact that many no longer regard faith as of vital importance in religion, should make us all the more determined to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be courageous, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). While we cannot help but look with sorrow upon the decay of positive belief, let us recognize, with gratitude, the wisdom of Him who, being the “Author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2),” established in His Church a living authority to “teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20). Let us also consider the splendid courage with which that mission has been accomplished through the centuries, by the witness of martyrs, the constancy of faithful Christians, the zeal of preachers and pastors, the firmness of Pontiffs who, amid the storms of error and the assaults of worldly power, stood fast in the faith upon the assurance given them by Christ: “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18).

“The Catholic who appreciates the blessing of faith and the sacrifices which generous men and women in all ages have made to preserve it, will take heed to himself and beware of the things by which some “have made shipwreck concerning the faith” (1 Tim. 1:19). For this disaster is usually the end and culmination of other evils, of sinful habits, of neglect of prayer and the sacraments, of cowardice in the face of hostility to one’s belief, of weakness in yielding to the wishes of kindred or friends, of social ambition and the hope of advantage in business or public career. More subtle are the dangers arising from an atmosphere in which unbelief is mingled with culture and gentle refinement, or in which the fallacy spreads that faith is hopelessly at variance with scientific truth. To counteract these influences, it is necessary that those who love the truth of Christ, should “the more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding” (Phil. 1:9). As they [those who love the truth of Christ] advance in years, they should lay firmer hold upon the teachings of religion and be prepared to explain and defend it. Thus, they will “continue in faith, grounded and settled and immovable from the hope of the Gospel” (Col. 1:23), always ready to give “a reason for that hope that is in them” (1 Peter 3:15), and, if needed to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude, 3).” (Pastoral letter of the archbishops and bishops of the United States assembled in conference at the Catholic University of America, September, 1919. Scripture references are in the text.)

Keeping the Commandments of God in the Harmony of Love

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15; also 14:21, 15:10)

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Clement I of Rome IconPope St. Clement I:  “Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the blessed bond of the love of God or tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is inexpressible (Eph. 3:16-19). Love unites us to God, “love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8)“. Love bears all things, is long-suffering [patient] in all things. There is nothing vulgar, nothing arrogant in love (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Love knows nothing of schisms, love does not lead rebellions, love does all things in harmony (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well pleasing to God. In love the Lord has taken us to Himself. Because of His love for us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood in accordance with the will of God; His flesh for our flesh and His life for our lives.

“You can see, beloved, how great and wonderful a thing love is; its perfection is beyond description. Who is fit to be found in it, except those to whom God has graciously rendered it so? Therefore, let us pray and implore of His mercy, that we may live blameless in love, without human partiality (Eph. 1:4, 5, James 2:1, 9). All the generations from Adam even to this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation of the kingdom of Christ (Col. 3:4). For it is written, “Enter into thy secret chambers for a little time, until my wrath and fury pass away; and I will remember a propitious day, and will raise you up out of your graves (Isa. 26:19, 20).”  Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; so that through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile (Ps. 32:2, Rom. 4:7, 8).” This blessedness comes upon those who have been chosen by God through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Let us therefore implore forgiveness for all those transgressions we may have committed through any suggestion of the adversary. And those who have been the leaders of sedition and disagreement ought to have respect to the common hope. …For it is better that a man should acknowledge his transgressions than that he should harden his heart, as the hearts of those were hardened who stirred up sedition against Moses the servant of God, and whose condemnation was made manifest to all. For they went down alive into Hades and death swallowed them up (Num. 16:1-35, Jude 11). Pharaoh with his army and all the princes of Egypt, and the chariots with their riders, were sunk in the depths of the Red Sea and perished (Exod. 14), for no other reason than that their foolish hearts were hardened, even after so many signs and wonders had been wrought in the land of Egypt by Moses the servant of God.” (1 Clement to the Corinthians, excerpts from para. 49-51)

+ St. Clement I of Rome, Pray for us. +