Thursday, April 17, 2014


Vatican City (CNN) - The washing of feet was a radical act in Jesus' time. It is no less radical in the modern era, with Pope Francis' decision to break with the long-standing papal tradition of washing only priests' feet, to include women and non-Christians in the symbolic ceremony. The controversy began on Holy Thursday last year when Pope Francis washed the feet of two women and two Muslims at a juvenile detention center in Rome. 
Before this, modern Popes had only ever washed the feet of 12 priests at the Vatican, during the Mass for the Last Supper. This year, Pope Francis visited a home for the elderly and disabled, the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, to wash the feet of "12 disabled people of different ages, ethnicities and religious confessions," during a special Lord's Supper Mass, according to the Vatican.

Those chosen for the special honor included a 16-year-old boy from Cape Verde who was paralyzed in a diving accident last year, a 19-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and two 86-year-olds with mobility problems. The 78-year-old pope smiled at each of the people whose feet he washed, but clearly struggled to get up from his knees as he moved down the line; two assistants helped him to his feet. He appeared to tire towards the end of the short ceremony. 
The tradition of the pontiff washing his priests' feet is based on a passage of the Bible which says that Jesus attended to his disciples at the Last Supper, saying, "If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:15) But until last year, no pope had dared to go against Vatican rules and choose anyone but priests for the Holy Thursday event. In choosing to change the practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 elderly and disabled people during a Holy Thursday ritual in Rome on Thursday. Francis continues to break with tradition by performing the pre-Easter ritual on non-Catholics. According to Vatican leaders, Francis' gesture was one of humility and service, intended to embrace those on the fringes of society. From the beginning of his papacy, the pope himself has been on the "fringes" of long-standing Vatican protocol, for example by choosing to live outside of the papal palace and eschewing traditional papal garments and modes of transport. In breaking the rules of foot-washing at the Vatican, the Pope is acknowledging what has been a practice in local churches for some time, and also reminding Catholics that the important thing is not whose foot is being washed, but the spirit behind that gesture. The congregation of the Roman Curia, named Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, states that foot-washing “represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.'” We try to follow the steps of our spiritual teachers, despite all our weaknesses and imperfections, and thus, we celebrate this concept and agree with Pope Fracis who has said, “Jesus made a gesture, a job, the service of a slave, a servant. And he leaves this inheritance to us: We need to be servants to one another.” This is what Srila Prabhupada taught us that the Vaishnava is a server that is always ready to provide a service to the Lord and, in the same way, the Lord is always looking for an opportunity to render some service to His devotee. We must overcome the selfishness that is based on ignorance and to seek spiritual enlightenment that allows us to change ourselves, and go step by step developing the qualifications to be eligible to engage in the loving devotional service of the servants of the servants of the loving devotees who are eternally engaged in serving the Supreme Lord. (Editor's note).

Unless we cleanse the pollutions, the artificial impositions that are upon our mind we can’t understand our natural state of health. So the purpose of human life according to the great acharyas, according to the great scriptures is to clean the mind, to make it pure. ... Because think about it, is happiness something outside of yourself, is happiness something you can put in yourself? Real happiness is a state of consciousness. ... Every religious system every religious path that is actually authorized teaches how to clean your heart, how to purify your mind, how to see your true eternal self in the mirror of your consciousness. First thing is we have to stop throwing dirt in our mind by our activities. We should live according to ethical, moral principles. We should live in a spirit of service to others rather than exploitation of others.

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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