Thursday, April 6, 2023

At the juvenile penitentiary in Rome, Pope Francis washes the feet of 12 young people, celebrates Mass


Pope on Holy Thursday: Life is beautiful when we help each other

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper at Rome's Casal del Marmo juvenile penitentiary, Pope Francis reminds us how the Lord in washing the feet of his disciples teaches us the importance of humility and service that is born of a noble heart. The Pope then washed the feet of 12 young people at the institution.

By Thaddeus Jones

On Holy Thursday Pope Francis went to the outskirts of Rome to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Casal del Marmo juvenile penitentiary where he carried out the traditional rite of the washing of feet of twelve of the young people there. Diversity characterized the group, varying in ages from 14 to 25 years of age, ten young men and two young women with two of Sinti origin, and others from Croatia, Senegal, Romania, Russia, representing various faith traditions.

The Pope previously visited the Casal del Marmo institution in 2013, right after he became pope, when he also celebrated the Holy Thursday liturgy "in Coena Domini" there.. 

A noble heart for all

In his homily given without a prepared text, the Pope focused his thoughts on the Gospel of the liturgy that recounts when Jesus, a day before his Passion, washes the feet of his disciples in a gesture of humility and service, something that back in that time would have been carried out by a slave.  

The Pope explained how life would be so beautiful if we were to imitate this gesture and spirit in our daily lives, helping one another, rather than following worldly ways of cheating or taking advangate of each other. Helping each other, even through simple human gestures, springs from a noble heart, he observed, and Jesus today wishes to teach us and encourage us to have this "nobility of heart." 

We can be discouraged or ashamed of what we hold inside, the Pope observed, but Jesus knows all about us and "loves us just the way we are," washing the feet of all of us. The Pope said we should never be frightened by our weaknesses and be assured that Lord wishes to accompany us on our journey, "to take us by the hand so that life is not so hard for us."

Called to help each other

In conclusion, the explained that his gesture of washing the fee of twelve young people present is not just a folkloric gesture, but a sign of how we should be with one another - helping each other, show each other love and respect for the immense dignity of all, even in our weaknesses as sinners. If we adopted this attitude and spirit of service, we could alleviate so many of the injustices in our world, the Pope went on to say, whether helping the unemployed, broken families, those struggling to survive, those who succumb to their weaknesses, something that can happen to each one of us at any time. 

The Lord reminds us through the washing of feet of his boundless loves for us, the Pope added, no matter what our situation and weaknesses, as He is always by our side, never ever forsaking us.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope blessed a large inaugural plaque for the chapel dedicated to Blessed Fr. Pino Puglisi, the famous Sicilian parish priest who was murdered over his help to the disadvantaged and challenging organized crime. The Pope greeted the young people held at the pentientiary and received a gift of a cross that they made during their woodwork course, as well as some biscuits, and pasta, both produced in house there. The Pope then gave them, the director and personnell of Casal del Marmo rosaries and chocolate Easter eggs, a tradition in Italy.

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