Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
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Pope emphasizes service, God’s forgiveness at Holy Thursday Mass in women’s prison

March 29, 2024

Pope Francis presided at the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday in the women’s section of Rebibbia prison in Rome (video).

In his extemporaneous homily, Pope Francis emphasized service and forgiveness as he reflected on Jesus’ act of washing feet and on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

In washing feet, “Jesus humbles himself, and with this gesture he makes us understand what he had said: ‘I did not come to be served, but to serve.’ He teaches us the path of service.”

“The other—sad—episode is the betrayal of Judas, who is not capable of carrying on love; and then money, selfishness lead him to this bad thing. But Jesus forgives everything. Jesus always forgives. He only asks that we ask for forgiveness.”

“Always, we all have small failures, big failures: everyone has their own story,” the Pope added. “But the Lord always awaits us, with open arms, and he never tires of forgiving.”

He concluded:

Now we will do the same gesture that Jesus did: to wash feet. It is a gesture that draws attention to the vocation of service. We ask the Lord to make us grow, all of us, in the vocation of service.

The Pope then washed the feet of twelve tearful prisoners.

Several reporters remarked that Pope Francis appeared stronger than he has in recent weeks, although he performed the washing of feet from his wheelchair. He was not the principal celebrant of the Mass. Archbishop Diego Ravelli, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, was the celebrant at the outdoor Mass, which some 200 people attended, and which featured contemporary hymns with guitar accompaniment.

After Mass, the Pope gave a large chocolate egg to a toddler who lives with his mother in the prison. The Pontiff was then given gifts, including fruit and vegetables grown at the prison, and a Rosary and two stoles made by inmates. The Pope gave to the prison a painting of the Madonna and Child; he then gave rosaries to the women whose feet he had washed.

 


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