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Wipe Your Feet

Before you come as a guest into someone’s home, you will probably bathe, groom, and put on appropriate clothing. We have been invited to the banquet feast of the Lamb of God. We should come ready. Surely

hat means some physical preparation, cleaned and appropriately clothed, but we also remember that in the Mass we are dealing with realities beyond what our eyes can see. There is a spiritual cleansing to which we should attend before we arrive at Mass. If we have unconfessed serious sin, that which is called mortal, on our conscience, we should confess it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to the table of our Lord. Scripture tells us that it is a serious sin to partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily. (If someone is aware of an unconfessed mortal sin, he or she should not receive Communion until making a sincere confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. See 1 Corinthians 11:29.)

However, even if we have bathed, groomed, and dressed, we will still pick up a degree of dust and dirt as we travel to the home to which we have been invited. Most likely our shoes will be somewhat soiled. So, as we enter the house, we wipe our feet. That dirt isn’t enough to keep us from coming, but wiping our feet before we enter is something that we do so as not to bring dirt into the house of the host.

At the beginning of each Mass we have the opportunity to “wipe our feet” during the “penitential rite.” This is not a replacement for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but it does take care of some stains on our souls—venial sins—perhaps from times we failed to act as we should, or had sinful thoughts. The priest reminds us: “Let us call to mind our sins.” “Lord, have mercy,” we pray—and He is merciful. In fact, it is He who cleanses us, just as He washed the feet of His first disciples at that first Eucharist on a Thursday during the Jewish Passover.

Flaherty, R. J. (2012). Discovering the “Awe” of the Mass (pp. 10–11). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road.

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