Writing… for a change 2: On Insecurity



I don’t like feeling insecure. Nor do I particularly like feeling vulnerable. I do like my security and have found quite a few ways to ensure that I feel secure. Most of these strategies don’t work for very long.

I believe that the liturgical practice of the foot washing at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday) is geared to uncover the vulnerability I avoid. Whether fear of rejection or abandonment, this rite can elicit these and other emotions many of us habitually sidestep.

One of the aspects of liturgical praying I want to promote has to do with being really present to God, self, and others without censorship. So, for those of us who resist having our feet washed, I propose we not smile and endure like good little boys or good little girls. Wouldn’t it be more real to be fully present to Christ in this rite saying, “Back off! You will not touch my feet!”

Isn’t it thrillingly risky to be completely present to Christ without pretense! Doesn’t it call into question what has passed for spirituality?

Let’s keep talking. –roc,sj



[The Armadillo – a haiku]

Geez! Look out! Danger!

Roll up into a ball NOW!

Safe here. Coiled.          Now what?



  1. Linda Hayek says:

    This hits close to home with a photo of my late husband, David and Roc SJ.

    The rite I recall most, however, is my own foot washing in 2003. Roc SJ, himself pouring the water. I admit I had a pedicure the day before, but I took off my shoes. Symbolic. I brought what I could of myself. March 28, 2003. 2 days before I joined the Catholic Church. What happened in the years surrounding that day continues to reveal itself to me. I have been transformed in ways I can’t put into words, thought I know I have come to believe more in a God of unconditional love and less as the God of hellfire and brimstone…the God of my youth as a Baptist. And more times than not, I see myself as a loved sinner. But that’s the short version.

    A few details. In 1999 I was married to a cradle Catholic. We were both actively Presbyterian, and I loved that community of believers. Then Dave was diagnosed with cancer and not expected to live. I called a priest who came to the hospital and after the Rite of Healing, he welcomed Dave back “home” to the Catholic Church for communion. Very emotional to say the least. The peace of healing happened for Dave…like a magic wand. Then we flew (medivac flight) to Boston for treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital. Miraculously, his life was extended for 7 more years. Which complicated the rules of the Church. Dave had already been welcomed to the table. No strings attached, though neither of us had annulments from our first marriages. We started the process. A year later, Dave’s first marriage had been annulled while my request was denied. And the priest that had been assigned to my case discouraged me from appealing the case. I felt angry, rejected, and hopeless. I don’t know why I continued to be accepted in the Church.

    Fast forward to 2003 where I was welcomed into the community of St. John’s Church at Creighton at the end of the full RCIA experience. Foot washing on Thursday. “First Communion” was on Saturday. I was 51 years old.

    In the liturgy – the rites and sacraments – there is the potential of healing and ultimate transformation. Looking back, I know this from personal experience. I had hoped for a feel-good experience. It was very painful at times, in the midst of those feelings of joy and peace and comfort. My brokenness, I think, has been essential to my transformation … which continues. I bring as much of myself as I can to the liturgy. My annulment never went through, that peaceful, all-is-well feeling after reconciliation continues to elude me. And I still pre-wash my feet for Holy Thursday. I acknowledge my broken attempts to see God, and every once in awhile I think I may have caught a glimpse … or maybe not. Still, I believe in unconditional love because I have glimpsed it on earth — in the eyes of a faithful pet, in unnecessary acts of kindness, and even in the Church itself on occasion.


    • Linda, how wonderful of you to share your story. It’s like a good old witness talk, eh?
      That photo is the only one of Don’s that caught what I was looking for. I figured it would tug at your memory and your heart strings. I recall that you and Dave would sit near the choir in what came to be called “The Infirmary.” I forget how many dear folks sat there, were anointed at key times in the community of believers, and were always welcomed so well. Wisdom and love dwelt in that corner strongly.
      You may still need to wash your feet before the Holy Thursday service (!). On that great day when you don’t have to, you will know down to those very toes how you always have been accepted, blest, and loved by God. You are such a gift to that community. And a dear friend to me. May you find Christ as you continue to explore your own depths and the joys and pains of the world. Blessings! –roc,sj


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