Cardinal Ratzinger celebrating the EF Solemn High Pontifical Mass:
An unknown pope prior to Vatican II celebrating Mass at the altar of the Basilica of St. John Lateran; It looks like Pope Benedict and there isn't much different about this photo and how the pope celebrated the Corpus Christi Mass yesterday if a picture was taken from this angle:
The Pope at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls:
We know for a fact that as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Holy Father celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Mass himself and defended the rights of traditional Catholics to have access to it. With these sensibilities, the Holy Father has broadened the permission of the celebration of this Mass and that has trickled down to good old Macon, Georgia and my parish. The Holy Father has real power!
However, as pope, Pope Benedict has not publicly celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. He did state that he hoped having its celebration more widely accepted would influence the way priest celebrate the normal or Ordinary Form of the Mass and that even the Ordinary normal form of the Mass might influence the EF in some ways--I think he meant verbal active and internal participation for both forms without the excesses of individualism or private piety and or personality of either form.
But with that said, as I watched the Holy Father celebrate the Corpus Christi Mass yesterday at his Cathedral Church, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran and more as the Bishop of Rome rather than the head of the universal Church, I detected what the Holy Father really wants for the Ordinary Form of the Mass which he is modeling, not imposing (yet anyway) and perhaps sees his successors implementing through legislation. In other words, he's paving the way for the reform of the reformed Mass but within continuity of the EF Mass. Of course I'm not clairvoyant, but as you know, maybe I am.
What did I see at yesterday's marvelous celebration of Corpus Christi at Saint John Lateran?
1. A Mass that most parishes and parish priests could celebrate with a schola and some well trained altar servers
2. A lovely well-choreographed procession and recession and liturgical ministers who were well trained and carried out their functions with style and dignity.
3. The official Introit Psalm with refrain chanted in Latin and in Gregorian Chant--no metrical hymn chosen as an option.
4. The Sign of the Cross, Greeting, brief introductory remarks preparing for the penitential act (Confiteor) and "absolution" said/sung in the vernacular (Italian). The Kyrie in Greek and the Gloria in plain chant Latin with the Collect sung in Italian.
5. A marevelous Liturgy of the word as is done in most parishes with lay lectors.
6. A deacon chanting the Gospel in the vernacular (Italian in this case).
7. A wonderful homily
8. The Credo sung in a plain chant Latin format
9. The General Intercession chanted in Italian.
10. The presentation of the Gifts as in most parishes
11. The simple preparation of the altar and preparation of the gifts with incense and the schola singing the offertory Latin Gregorian Chant.
12. The Prayer over the Offerings in Italian and chanted
13. The preface dialogue,preface and Eucharistic Prayer II chanted in Latin.
14. The Pater Noster chanted in Latin but with the Italian embolism and doxology.
15. The Sign of Peace offered to one another as in most parishes but in a sober way
16. The Agnus Dei in Latin, but the Ecce Agnus Dei in Italian
17. The official Communion antiphon and psalm in Latin Gregorian Chant
18. Holy Communion to communicants kneeling and receiving on the tongue, not in the hand
19. The Prayer after Holy Communion in Italian and if there had been a solemn blessing and dismissal in Italian; these were omitted because of the subsequent liturgical Eucharistic Corpus Christi Procession.
20. The altar was decorated as in for the EF Mass but what is now called the Benedictine arrangement for the OF Mass. At St. John Lateran as with St. Peter's Basilica and the other major basilicas of Rome, the altar faces east and the direction of the celebrant has never changed from the EF to the OF--so there was built in continuity in all the Roman Basilicas.
This form of the Mass could be celebrated in any parish with some Latin or simply English chants.