Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SO WHERE WILL WE BE IN A YEAR'S TIME WITH POPE FRANCIS?
But first, let us speak of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pontiff Emeritus. He brought new interest and vitality to the Liturgy and many blogs began because of his interest in liturgy. It brought new interest in the music of the Church, Gregorian Chant but also newer forms in the vernacular that are consistent with the musical heritage of the Mass.
The music of the Mass is not hymns (except for filler here and there) it is the Mass itself, what are called the Propers, meaning the Introit and the offertory and Communion antiphons. There are many fine motets of all kinds that can be sung at the offertory and communion in addition to the propers but in addition not in place of and as filler, to kill time so to speak.
All of the parts of the Mass belong to the music of the Mass. And all of the parts of the priest belong to the music of the Mass. Even the readings of the Liturgy of the word belong to the music of the Mass as these can be sung too.
Hymns belong to the Liturgy of the Hours which most parishes do not pray liturgically. Convents and monasteries do and some parishes have had valiant efforts at doing so. More needs to be accomplished in this regard.
Now onto Pope Francis and what we have seen ever so briefly. How much change he will continue to bring to the office of the papacy and the style in which he celebrates the Mass remains to be seen. Pope Benedict moved very slowly his first year keeping the "first" Marini in place and the liturgies of that first year, including the Installation Mass were in continuity with the first Marini's style.
Will Pope Francis keep the second Marini. Msgr. Second Marini seemed more relaxed and joyful at the papal installation Mass. Do you think they had it out with each other and resolved issues of differences in liturgical taste and papal tastes? I think there may have been a discussion or two! I think we can't underestimate the "power" of a Master of Ceremonies in the Vatican or a local Cathedral.
When I was the Master of Ceremonies at our Cathedral (1985-1991), then Bishop Raymond Lessard was at first a bit weary of my ideas of what a Cathedral Liturgy should be but as he saw the attendance at the Cathedral Mass increase under my high church embellishments, especially the ones he had, he warmed up to my more high church approach to liturgy. Prior to my going to the Cathedral things were a bit abysmal there and very low church and careless. He got some criticism from some in Savannah that I was pre-Vatican II. Sound familiar? Same accusations against Pope Benedict's Master of Ceremonies and the Holy Father himself.
Yup! That's me! Master of Ceremonies Marini McDonald called back to MC Bishop Boland's Episcopal Ordination in 1995!
Let me make clear, I had a reputation in my first assignment of being a progressive and liberal. I was and still am, but my progressiveness has shifted to a broader love of liturgies and the variety the Church allows including the EF which when the indult came out in the 1980's allowing for its broader celebration, I opposed Bishop Lessard's desire to have it in Savannah! His successor implemented the indult, long after I was gone. I was in my first years of priesthood way too much into improvisation and that new always meant improved and improvisation was a friend of the liturgy, but now I know that it is its enemy.
What have we seen so far in two public papal Mass with Pope Francis and are these anomalies or his part in the reform of the reform?
First of all, I do know that he was a part of the Congregation for Divine Worship in the past and so must have a love for the liturgy. I have no clue as to why he was selected and what are his qualifications. I do not know of anything that he has written on the Liturgy unlike Cardinal Ratzinger who was well known for his thoughts on the Liturgy prior to becoming pope. But Pope Francis must have some expertise, although he can't sing a lick!
Let me highlight the three things we have noticed in his Masses:
1. Brevity! As Pope Francis was departing St. Peter's Basilica after praying the its "confessio" and approached the exit to the square he looked at his watch. I've never seen a pope look at his watch during a liturgy and in fact there is a venerable tradition of removing one's watch to celebrate Mass, although both Popes John Paul and Benedict always wore theirs.
Pope Francis gives short homilies. The one on Sunday was about 6 minutes or less! His installation Mass homily is perhaps one of the shortest ever! Less words and more action might be his motto for liturgy and life? The two are interrelated for us Christians which sometimes liturgy geeks seem to forget!
2. The Offertory Procession! Neither on Sunday at the parish Mass or at the Installation Mass was there a parade of laity with gifts for the offertory and where they kneel before the Holy Father to give them the gifts and the Holy Father chats with them. Some say this is a part of his desire to get on with the Mass because he likes to shorten things. Others are saying that the offertory procession is considered superfluous by many liturgists and need not be done. So Pope Francis eliminates it. I don't know if it is for brevity's sake or some deeper liturgical reason and I would like to know! The EF Mass of course does not have it. Is this a "reform of the reform" and the gravitation pull of the EF on the OF? I hope Pope Francis will tell us!
3. The manner of distribution of Holy Communion! At all of his Masses thus far, Pope Francis only distributes Holy Communion to the deacons of the Mass who kneel before him and receive on the tongue and by way of intinction as the MC holds the chalice and the Holy Father dips the Host into it. But then the Holy Father sits as Holy Communion is distributed. It is the deacon or deacons who take the principle position in the church to distribute Holy Communion and at all three Masses the communicants have knelt to receive Holy Communion at the principle station!
This was especially true of the Installation Mass. Unfortunately the camera did not focus on the principle station for it was not the pope at it! It was there though! The very place that Pope Benedict would have distributed Holy Communion and the camera would have zeroed in on was given over the one of the principle deacons of the Mass! And yes, the communicants knelt to receive Holy Communion at this station.
Some say that the pope is transitioning the manner in which Holy Communion will be distributed and he doesn't want to be seen giving Holy Communion to the laity who are kneeling. I find that implausible given what he has already changed, in terms of the papal paraphernalia and vestments, shoe, mozzettas and the like.
Surely if he did not want to see people kneeling for Holy Communion he would have done away with the principle station altogether or made the deacon distribute Holy Communion without a kneeler in front of him to people who thus stood. I think it is far more radical that he doesn't distribute Holy Communion and there may be a broader liturgical reason for this.
I want liturgists out there who know to tell us why the pope didn't distribute Holy Communion in the Extraordinary Form, him doing so is an OF innovation, like the offertory procession. Is there a liturgical reason?
Pope Francis is now the Pontiff. He is the bridge builder bring the world over that bridge to Christ and the Church. In the Church he is a bridge builder too, keeping the various factions within her on the same bridge.
There is a progressive and traditionalist side to Pope Francis. Time will tell if his bridge will withstand the diversity of Catholics there are or if it will crumble. Will the next pope be a restorationist?