The results of the Holy Thursday foot washing poll are interesting. In retrospect, I wish I had included questions about whether or not respondents have had their feet washed, or whether they attend the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. There is always a balance between making the surveys quick to take and informative at the same time.
Somewhat suprisingly, the foot washing is not looked upon with universal appeal, despite the fact that it has been restored to the liturgy in one form or other since the 1950's. Those who are charged with recruiting volunteers to have their feet washed may have expected as much, since it seems a difficult privilege for people to accept in some parishes.
A majority were neutral or opposed to the foot washing. Anyone who answered that the washing sould be eliminated would also refuse to be washed, while those who advocate it should be retained answered they would agree to be washed.
I doubt we would ever eliminate it since there is a tradition at Holy Cross, at least in recent years to include this option. However, exhaustive efforts to recruit twelve persons might be missplaced.
Liturgical experts generally agree that substituting other "washings" is wrong-spirited and a majority of our respondents agree. While it's true that we generally wash our hands before meals, and foot washing isn't part of our contemporary practice, neither is hand washing generally performed for us by a servant, so the substitution falls a bit flat. (Let's not even think of Purell!)
The liturgy committee won't take up the matter for another year, so there is plenty of time for prayerful reflection on the matter.