Please note that the Holy Father does prostrate himself, but with great difficulty, assisted and please note the length of time of the prostration and the difficulty getting up:
This is Pope Benedict's last Passion Liturgy in 2012. He did not prostrate as Pope Francis has done the last two years:
that was indeed splendid and solemn.
A quick question though: did Pope Benedict 16 also prostate?
In his last year as pope (2012), I remember he didn't, but by then, he was already quite fragile.
But, did he, during his "healthier" days? I can't seem to remember!
Also, just to be clear, this is not to criticize or lament or anything. I am, on this Good Friday, simply curious.
Yes, Pope Benedict did prostrate himself in previous years, although I don't recall his last. He also removed his shoes to venerate the cross at the altar. This time, Pope Francis had the cross stop before the Chair of Peter, he removed his chasuble and venerated the cross. I think in addition to his let and hip issues there are also feet issues require orthopedic shoes he wears.
Looks like more empty seats than full seats....
This is the way the Passion should be done. In the OF you don't need three deacons - two cantors and a deacon/priest will suffice, the cantors in plain albs. Notice how the deacon singing Chronista corrects the pitch using a tuning fork!
The Holy Father stood throughout. Believe it or not, I've been to places where the Passion is simply read out, but the congregation is asked to sit for their greater comfort. A sad commentary on the current state of the liturgy.
As usual, the choir was virtually inaudible (can't the engineers do something about this?) and I had to download the booklet to find out what they were singing. It didn't say who composed the turba choruses (in England those by William Byrd are normally used) and at the veneration they sang a very truncated version of the Improperia, followed by the Stabat Mater, which is permissible but which doesn't really belong here. Better to have sung the Improperia in full.
This isn't nit-picking; you only get a chance to hear this once a year, and it's an integral part of the liturgy. The Victoria setting, combined with the chant, is sublime.
It's odd that the choir is so poorly miked for the services inside the basilica, as the recording team tend to do very well with the events outside in the square (and with capturing the sound of the brass group at the west end, when that's used).
I wonder what Pope Francis was saying to Msgr Marini at the start of the Via crucis ceremony; they seemed to be talking quite intensely. It's funny that the media didn't pick up on the Pope falling asleep during Station XIII, although it wasn't quite so obvious as when Marini had to prod Pope Benedict awake back in 2010! I'm sure they were both annoyed by the cheer of 'viva papa Francesco' before the ceremony had properly ended: no wonder that the pope left so abruptly.
I always got the impression that Pope Francis didn't like long liturgies (Pius XII was the same) and that although the Holy Week ceremonies last year were already in place, there would be substantial changes this year. In particular, I didn't think Guido Marini would still be in his job.
It appears I was wrong. There has been no sense in which the Holy Week ceremonies have been 'dumbed down' or truncated. The way the Holy Father celebrated the Maundy Thursday Evening Mass (after having celebrated the Chrism Mass in Latin) is a continuation of what he did as a bishop in Argentina, and if he wants to continue the practice as Bishop of Rome, then we should accept his decision. I didn't have to be there and experience the dreadful music, but then I'm not (yet) physically or mentally incapacitated. And I'm not the Pope.
The world has changed. The Pope is an international figure interpreted by the media whether he likes it or not. JP II rose splendidly to the occasion; Benedict XVI was not as comfortable with it and yet his pontificate was of immense importance, the implications of which have still to be worked out.
Pope Francis will certainly make his impact, perhaps in ways we Catholics have yet to realize, but in ways the secular media could not even begin to comprehend. Already I observe that priests of the Oratory, not noted for their progressivism, are quoting him in their homilies.
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