25 June 2008

The Holy Father's Gifts to the Church (so far...)

I just read an article from February 2006, just a few months after the ascension of Benedict to the Throne of Peter. The article details an interview with Cardinal Arinze, the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship. Cardinal Arinze assured the interviewer that Pope Benedict would correct liturgical abuses with "firm teaching and a gentle manner." So let us look at what the Holy Father has given us in terms of the liturgy, so far.

This year's Corpus Christi Mass in Rome saw all those receiving Holy Communion from the Pope taking the Host on the tongue, while kneeling. Today I learn that all future papal Masses will be this way.

With the removal of the former papal MC, and the more traditional Msgr. Guido Marini being brought in as his replacement, we have seen more traditional vestments (even a 'Fiddleback' chasuble from this past Good Friday!) and the "Benedictine altar arrangement" with seven candles and a large, central crucifix on the altar.

Here is the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross. The Holy Father is vested in a beautiful alb and most beautiful Roman 'fiddleback' chasuble. The deacons are in very nice dalmatics, and Msgr. Marini (on the right) is in a surplice very typical of him, with nice lace.

See here the beautiful altar arrangement. There are six tall candles and a tall crucifix in the center. This shows the centrality of the cross. After all, the Mass is the same sacrifice as the Sacrifice of the Cross. You knew that, right? Also, look at that beautiful altar frontal!

Then there was the pastoral staff of the Pope. John Paul II used the modern (in my opinion, ugly) crucifix brought about by Pope Paul VI. After a couple years, this Palm Sunday saw the introduction of an older cross, used by Pius XII. Here is a picture of the Pope with his new pastoral staff. Also, notice that's a pretty nice chasuble and a beautiful alb there.

How could I almost forget! This year on January 13, the Pope celebrated the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel. Instead of using a modern table-style altar, the Holy Father used the high altar and celebrated Mass ad orientem! This was a Novus Ordo Mass, showing the world that yes, you may celebrate the New Mass facing liturgical East. See the seven candles and the beautiful crucifix? This is how Mass is supposed to be celebrated! Several parishes around the world, including my parish in Virginia, St. John the Baptist, have started celebrating Mass this way. (St. John's actually has all of their Masses ad orientem since last month!)

But most importantly, the most important thing Pope Benedict XVI has given us is Summorum Pontificum. The Traditional Latin Mass is making a slow, but steady comeback into the mainstream. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has said that the Pope wishes the TLM to be a fixture of all parishes, so that all may experience the beauty of this rite. God bless Pope Benedict for all that he has done for the Church!

Do you think I am missing anything? Let me know!


Blogger Cliff Notes said...

The pope has yet to say the Mass in the usus antiqiuor, which who knows, could be just around the corner. Now that is a liturgy I'd like to see!

June 25, 2008 11:43 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

I second that wholeheartedly! That's what I had in mind with the "so far..." bit.

Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated a solemn pontifical Mass as recently as 1999. http://www.unavoce.org/ratzingerweimar1.jpg

It's a possibility! Perhaps we may see one of the Sunday Masses at the Altar of the Chair be replaced with a Gregorian rite Mass.

June 26, 2008 12:00 AM  

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