This is as close as Pope Francis has gotten to modeling a truly ad orientem Mass, although at Saint Peters inside or outside when the Pope faces the nave or the people, he is celebrating ad orientem!
Of course he' only been pope not quite two months. Traditionalists are besides themselves because he can't chant, so they wonder what kind of direction he will give when it comes to chanting the liturgy. He can't lead by example here. Pope Benedict's chanting wasn't that great but he did it anyway and showed that liturgical chanting isn't about virtuoso, it is about prayer.
He doesn't evidently like lace, lace albs or lace surplices. Evidently Pope Francis has ordered that they not be seen at his liturgies, although I have seen some nice lace-like inserts into albs and surplices recently. Passive aggressiveness?
He doesn't want to appear to be a consumer of fine vestments and he won't wear Roman chasuble or brocade. I was a bit worried that Pope Francis would only use the one set of vestments that he brought from Argentina, which are quite elegant and I would love to have that set as these are in my taste range. But for a pope, I like a little bit more flair and we got it with the vestment he borrowed in continuity with Pope Benedict at Sunday's ordination Mass. And a new miter to boot. Nice!
He has maintained the Benedictine altar arrangement but I don't think we will ever see him celebrating Mass ad orientem. Since he has ordered that lace not be seen at his liturgies, one would think that he would have ordered well before now that the Benedictine altar arrangement be squashed too by now. He hasn't. The six candles are more angled on the altar (which I certainly appreciate) but the crucifix and bishop's candle remain dead center. The chapel of the Vatican hotel's altar is as it always was with a peculiarly European style of two candles on one side and bouquet of flowers on the other and a small crucifix in the center. There is a large crucifix hanging behind the altar. One would think that if he didn't like the crucifix dead center that he could easily have had the small one moved to the side or taken away altogether. He hasn't.
I noticed too that at his Argentinian cathedral there was the Benedictine altar arrangement for his Masses there and also elsewhere.
He does not distribute Holy Communion to the laity, except at the Easter Vigil he gave Holy Communion to the newly baptized, but that was a small number and he did so by intinction, but they stood before him at his chair directly in front of the papal altar. However, he gives Holy Communion to the deacons of the Mass by intinction as the deacons kneel before him. So he isn't opposed to kneeling or standing for Holy Communion--a perfect compromise.
He has also shortened the offertory procession and this is a compromise because at his very first few Masses there was no offertory procession.
At the ordination Mass on Sunday there were no lay lectors and only two lay people brought the gifts to him.
Pope Benedict well into his papacy began to recite the Preface and Canon of the Mass exclusively in Latin even when most of the Mass was in the vernacular. This led many to believe that this would become a universal norm. Pope Francis does not maintain this tradition reciting the Canon in the vernacular at mostly vernacular Masses, such as the Ordination Mass and the Masses at the two other basilicas. However at international gatherings of people, the Mass has been entirely in Latin including the Eucharistic Prayer.
So how does this all impact local dioceses and parishes? I don't think at all. Everyone will continue to do what they have done.
As I have said, if the majority of parishes in the world simply copied the liturgies that Pope Francis has thus far modeled, both in vesture and style, what an improvement that would be! And certainly the music of all his public Masses, except for the Holy Thursday Mass at the youth detention center are exemplary!
How has Pope Francis impacted Mass in my parish of Saint Joseph in the heart of Georgia? Not one bit. We are doing what we have always done. We have four Masses on Sunday and our 12:10 PM Mass is ad orientem only for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and all our Masses are completely in the vernacular except of course for our monthly EF High Mass. We provide kneelers for those who wish to kneel to receive Holy Communion, but the majority still stand and receive in the hand, so all options are honored and the choice is the communicant's. We provide the common chalice at all our Masses Sunday and daily. We experimented with intinction which was very well received and found that more people were receiving the Precious Blood through intinction, meaning that those who would refuse to drink after someone from the common chalice were more than happy to receive Holy Communion by intinction. In fact when we returned to the common chalice, people were displeased.
Just as an aside, many people think that Pope Benedict was stuffy and prissy about his liturgies and perhaps he was. I like that about him. But when he visited Roman parishes for Mass, he did as the Romans did.
These three videos explode the myth of Pope Benedict's aloofness and inability to adapt and prove it as Pope Benedict XVI eggs the congregation on to applaud at Mass for some children. The second shows that he didn't not forbid Italian folk music at his Mass accompanied by guitar! And Pope Benedict provoked thunderous applause after Mass too with pep rally style shouting and screaming in the Church accompanied by guitar and Italian style Folk music!
You have to go to this link for the guitar music since it doesn't have an embedded code for me to post the video:
For Pope Benedict allowing guitar music of a particular quality to be sung at one of his Mass, press HERE!
For Pope Benedict provoking thunderous applause at the end of Mass and then accompanied out of the Church by guitar music a la Italian style, press HERE!