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Washing feet

Today is the Feast of St Oswald, Archbishop of York and Bishop of Worcester (d.1992). Somehow it had escaped my attention that there are two Medieval Oswalds - the other one was King of Northumbria in the Seventh Century, and much more famous; there are churches dedicated to him on the Continent. Scanning our tenth-century Oswald's life story - or at least what we know of it - my eye was caught by two details - one trivial and another deeply symbolic. The trivial detail is that he actually died on 29 February. I feel sorry for souls who are either born or die on a day that only recurs every four years, and especially those born on that day. The significant detail is that during Lent, he washed the feet of twelve poor people every day. That reminded me of the quality of humility, so beloved of Teresa of Avila and her disciple Therese of Lisieux. I was talking to a devoted Carmelite servant of the Lord last night and she was lamenting that people took advantage of her. That is one of the hardest things to me about humility. As long as it is not positively harmful or damaging to ourselves or other persons, do we not have to let people take advantage of us in small ways in the name of charity?

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