I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.