Women Disciples & Holy Thursday

I have always loved Easter Triduum. Even in recent years, when my Mass attendance has become sporadic at best, I relish in this season of the sacred mystery of all that is Catholic. We are swept up into the drama of it all—we wash each other’s feet, we relive the Stations of the Cross, we mourn the loss of a leader, and we celebrate the overwhelming mystery of someone rising from the dead.

So, as a kid, going to school on Holy Thursday always sort of surprised me—it felt so odd that we were doing something as mundane as school on the day that kicked of such holiness and the Mass-going marathon of the liturgical year.

I think my home parish has had a washing of the feet during Holy Thursday Mass for as long as I’ve been alive. Twelve men—usually members of the Parish Council— were invited to have their feet washed by the priest. I really remember the year the priest invited women to be members of the twelve: he asked my mom. At the time, my mom was taking liturgical studies classes at the local Benedictine college, where she was studying women’s roles in the Last Supper, so was eager to accept. There was considerable whispering about the inclusion of women, but my mom didn’t let it faze her.

On that Holy Thursday, sitting next to my dad and sisters in one of those front pews reserved for families running late, I remember watching proudly as my mom walked up to the altar as a part of the disciples.

It’s these little things that shape who we are. Amid the drama and mystery of the Triduum, I am reminded that my mom, quite literally, is a member of the first women disciples.



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