I am struck by the fact that certain things are regarded as terrible ideas in liturgy until suddenly they become good ideas. One example is the custom of those who are not receiving Communion to enter the Communion line, approaching the minister with their hands crossed over their breast and receiving a blessing. This was regarded as a liturgical abuse “to be feared” as this 2008 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship suggests (although admittedly the letter does say that the matter is under study). However, when the Pope Emeritus suggested that this was a good idea, suddenly everybody accepted that it was a good idea! (sorry for my technical inability, you will have to open the image in a new tab or download it to see the full letter from the CDW)
More recently, not everybody is happy with Pope Francis’ Letter regarding the Rite of the “Washing of the Feet” during the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper which modified the rubrics to explicitly allow women’s feet to be washed. Today there is a story on CHurchPop entitled “Husband Washes Wife’s Feet at Wedding Reception Instead of Tossing Garter: ‘You Deserve to Be Cherished.’” This story might also help change people’s minds on the reasonableness of the practice.
Maybe being a celibate priest has made me somewhat prudish and crabby, but I think that most of us involved in the liturgical celebration of marriage would agree that some wedding celebrations tend to get a little too bawdy and the throwing of the garter (that, I hasten to add, is not part of the official Order of Celebrating Matrimony but often takes place in the reception) can be a particularly egregious offender in this regard.
Stacey Sumereau, a Catholic speaker, podcaster, and television personality, and more importantly in this case the bride posted this experience to social media:
“My husband washed my feet at our wedding reception instead of tossing a garter.
“The garter toss signifies Eros- sexual attraction and a public hint of the private intimacy the newlyweds will enjoy. Physical attraction is a wonderful and beautiful part of marriage. However, I LOVE that my groom chose to surprise me with something different… 🤩
“Jesus washed his disciples’ feet the night before he gave his life for them on the cross. That kind of love is agape: sacrifice.
“Husbands vow to love their brides like Christ loves the Church. 👰🏼 To be the leader of our family is to be a servant. Whether it’s prioritizing my desire of where we go to dinner or getting up with the babies early when I’m exhausted, John lays down his life for me every day.
Surely this is a much better way for a believing Christian to start their married life, and hopefully all Catholics can agree that foot washing of women is not necessarily a bad idea!