Saturday, March 23, 2013

CONTINUITY AND RUPTURE, THE CONTRASTS OF POPES BENEDICT AND FRANCIS




Pope Benedict, now Pontiff Emeritus, was good at showing forth contrasts in the Church, that of rupture and that of continuity. For him change had to be within the context of continuity, reform in continuity. Thus he was seen wearing ultra-modern vestments, especially early in his papacy as well as ultra-traditional ones a bit later in his papacy. For him (and his last public Mass on Ash Wednesday he had a simple Gothic chasuble) it wasn't either/or but both/and. The same is true of the Liturgy. As Cardinal (and never as pope publicly) he celebrated both the modern missal and the older missal. As pope he allowed both under the rubric of two forms of the one Roman Rite.

He also spoke of the true Church and the made-up Church of the Media, continuity and rupture.

Today, March 23, 2013, the new Holy Father, Pope Francis, who in some ways has created rupture in his style of being pope will also show dramatic continuity that no pope has ever shown publicly to the world. He will be visiting a living former pope. Folks this is world history in the making, make no mistake about that.

This pope is showing contrasts in his thus far short papacy, that of continuity and rupture, reform in continuity.

Here are some lovely and striking contrasts:

Yesterday Pope Francis had a simple Mass with the forgotten people of the Vatican, the “help” as it were. Then he met with the highfaluting diplomatic core. Nice contrast and that it isn’t either/or but both/and.

Then on Holy Thursday, I suspect there will be a splendid Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica for all the priests of Rome to renew their priestly promises and bring the “oils of Christ” to their parishes. I suspect this liturgy will be all Marini that morning, then the Holy Father will go to that mixed-gender prison for youth and have a simple “Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper” and show that the Sacrificial priesthood of the Catholic Church is indeed in continuity with the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament but in terms of service their is discontinuity or rupture as the Holy Father models for the priests of the world that one needs to enter into “ritual impurity” to wash the feet of others to make the cultic, ministerial priesthood service oriented also. So we have the splendor of the Vatican Basilica Liturgy earlier in the day and the squalor of the prison liturgy later in the day. Very nice contrasts.

And before this short papacy is over, in continuity with Benedict, which will be shown by today's visit to Benedict, this pope may well concelebrate some Eastern Rite liturgies as well as celebrate a low EF Mass, (I say low because he can’t sing a lick and thus can’t do a “high”) but of course foregoing lace but wearing a Roman Chasuble to show that he is the Bishop of Rome, no longer the Bishop of Buenos Aires. His ministry starts in Rome and then to the world. When one is the Bishop of Rome, “Euro-centricity” is necessary but then there should be a rupture from that too, to the world.

3 comments:

Anonymous in Archdiocese of Detroit said...

Here's the video of Benedict and Francis meeting:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9949839/Pope-meets-Pope-Francis-tells-Benedict-were-brothers.html

John Nolan said...

If you want the EF Mass, and to those of my generation, (b. 1951) it was simply "the Mass" you can have it, and is guaranteed by the legislative norms in force. I do not see this as an issue. Interestingly, compare this Sunday's Mass (Palm Sunday) in the OF and the EF and you will find that the EF is closer to the OF than it is to the pre-1955 form, which is a lot longer - and I understand the SSPX actually use the post-1955 liturgy which suggests that they accept some of the Bugnini reforms.

If the Holy Father celebrates the Holy Thursday evening Mass in Italian and in a prison, and washes the feet of women as well as men (Queen Mary Tudor, the devout daughter of the saintly Catherine of Aragon, washed the feet of poor women), I for one would not object. The Pedilavium was not a liturgical act until 1955 (Bugnini again).

I shall be at the London Oratory on Thursday where the OF will be celebrated in Latin with splendid music and ceremonial, as it has been for all my adult life.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought the entirety, excepting the homily, of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Crysostom was chanted.

Or maybe that's just an Orthodox practice.