Washing ones hands before the consecration of the bread and wine, nowadays, is but a routine which only marks the past and the memory of what was demanded of priests in olden times.
In the old rite, before offering the sacrifice of the altar and before going to the altar, the priest had to wash his hands and feet, otherwise the priest incurred death, according to the law given to Moses (Ex 30, 17-21).
Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, “Make a bronze basin for the ablutions. Set it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water in it so that Aaron and his sons wash their hands and feet.”
“Whenever they are to enter the Tent of Meeting, they will wash, to avoid incurring death; and whenever they approach the altar for their service, to burn an offering for Yahweh.”
“They will wash their hands and feet, to avoid incurring death. This is a perpetual decree for him and his descendants for all their generations to come.”
Before departing from this world, Jesus decides to wash the feet of his disciples because they were called to the ministerial priesthood, but Peter says to Jesus, “No, not mine!” Peter still didn’t comprehend anything, and this is why Jesus said to him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no share with me.” Then thinking it over, Peter says, “In that case, you can wash not only my feet but my hands and head as well.” Jesus says to Peter, “He who has been bathed, does not need further washing since he’s already clean.”
For years, our priests have taught us that with the washing of the feet, the role that we all have is of being servants of each other…a universal message that, nevertheless, nullifies Christ’s true teaching.
Jesus specifies and makes clear before the apostles or future Bishops and priests where he stands on this, assuring them point-blank and categorically that he who is to become a priest and approaches the altar must be completely clean. A priest must be consecrated, and his soul must be completely clean before God.
In the old law, the priest incurred death if he wasn’t clean, and in the New Law or the New Testament, not only must he wash his hands, feet, and head but the entirety of his soul as well—otherwise the priest is dead and nonexistent to Christ. That is to say, he’s already dead and will not share in the eternal Glory, even as he stands before the laity celebrating mass. The soul of the priest must be clean, says the Lord Almighty, for I vomit anything that’s lukewarm.
Priests have to be Holy for their God and must not profane God’s name, for it is they who are to present the delicacies that are to be burnt for Yahweh. It is they who present the nutriment of their God; and they must be saints, says the Most High.
When God judges, it is because there’s blame and absence of his Sanctifying Spirit. When a priest communicates an error to the community, the error is spread and everyone believes it. The error is circulated, and the community accepts and believes it as being true, allowing for the error to spread and the harm to be implanted within everyone, particularly in the priest who was guilty of committing the error.
When a priest leads a double life, he makes gospel-related mistakes and errors. Not only does the priest lose his way because of his own corrupt deeds, but the thousands of faithful Catholics who have believed in him are also condemned because of this priest’s fault, who prompted them to believe in him. When a priest isn’t clean before Christ, his words ring hollow; he shouts too much. And by not carrying the Spirit of Christ with him, he’s merely a puppet that speaks. The priest can make himself out to be Superman and of being the parish owner, but even with all this, he is deaf to Christ’s voice.
In his encyclical Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII tells us that through the consecration received in the Sacrament of the holy order of the Priesthood, a priest enjoys the faculty of being able to act by the power of Christ himself, whom he represents. Priestly powers do not belong to the Priest, however; they belong to Christ. Moreover, a priest doesn’t receive these for himself, but rather, they are for the sanctification of the faithful.
This is why the Priesthood is called Sacrament of Service.
The responsibility of rising up the Church is rooted in the drastic conversion of people’s lives or a one-eighty, so to speak, but most of all it lies in the preparation and Religious instruction of all the members of the Church throughout the world. Our priests are even more obligated than anyone to receive instruction and to listen to Christ’s Voice, and in being the first to be obedient and show Christ’s mercy to everyone in the world.
Blessings to all.
Peace from your lowly brother, Jesé Retoño—“My Messenger”
Translation by León Jesuita.
Image art by Polina Ipatova.