Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Continuity in the Mass of Pope Francis

The Saint Joseph's Day Mass in Saint Peter's Square, on which was Inaugurated the Pontificate of Pope Francis, manifested a marked continuity with the Liturgical arrangements set in place and promoted by Pope Benedict (of happy memory). It is pleasant to think of Pope Benedict watching proceedings from his apartment in Castel Gandolfo.

The selection of chants and other liturgical music, the decoration of the altar with its splendid candlesticks, Crucifix and magnificent frontalpieces, the arrangement and decoration of the Papal throne, the Liturgical participation of Greek Catholics, the placement of an Image of the Blessed Virgin, all these were consonant with Papal Liturgies in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Some of them were also seen in similar Masses in the Pontificate of John Paul the Blessed. We also saw the Pope's continued use of the Pastoral Staff or ferula which was presented to Pope Benedict.

Something not seen very clearly in the telecast of the Mass was the two deacons who stood before the altar and distributed Holy Communion. All those who received Holy Communion at the Altar did so on the tongue, whilst kneeling.

Yes, there were differences, which might be mentioned here, because they indicate the aesthetical philosophies or liturgical preferences of Pope Francis. It would seem that the Pope does not care for drawn-out ceremonial, because he removed parts of the Liturgy which would have been time-consuming (for example, the Homage of the Cardinals was confined to six Cardinals instead of the entire College). It seems obvious that the Pope eschews personal ostentation and vestments were used which were dignified, but extremely simple. Pope Francis did not wear the Episcopal dalmatic beneath his chasuble, a practice which had been reintroduced by Pope Benedict. It seems obvious that the Pope dislikes the use of lace for albes and surplices. Nevertheless, some of the albes used by the deacons and surplices used by the Masters of Ceremonies were decorated with inserts of lace. It seems obvious that the Pope does not feel comfortable singing parts of the Mass and what was sung by Benedict XVI was uniformly read by Francis.

Are the above very significant matters? To some, yes. to others, less so. The significant Continuity with the externals of the Papal Liturgies, which were established in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, would seem to be largely left in place, and this is the important point. We cannot say yet if, or how that might change.  Most importantly, however, is the fact that Pope Francis offer Mass with true reverence.

The following images were selected of the Papal Mass.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

The Procession of the Pope to the Altar
also shewing the Cardinal-bishops Re, Bertone and Sodano.

Procession of the deacons also shewing the Uniate bishops

The simple dignity of the Pope's chasuble
together with a simply-ornamented and well-fitting albe.

The Cardinal protodeacon approaches the Pope with the Pallium.

Blessing the Faithful with a beautiful Evangelarium.

A detail of the magnificent decoration of the frontalpiece of the Altar
also shewing the splendid candlesticks.

The Pope with ministers approaches the Altar for the Offertory.

The incensation at the Offertory.

A simple but ample dalmatic was worn by each of the deacons.

Pope Francis greeting the Faithful
at the conclusion of the Mass
standing before the statue of the Madonna and child
which had been presented to Pope Paul VI by
South American Catholics.