Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ordination Mass

As mentioned below, I obtained tickets to a Papal Mass to-day. To see Peter...

I entered the Basilica about an hour beforehand, and, thanks to the ushers moving us up the nave a long way, ended up - significantly - directly at the foot of the statue of good St Philip Neri, my patron. Grazie, Filippo buono!

Having so long to wait afforded time to read Matins through to Terce.

The Mass was a Latin Novus Ordo, at which five bishops were to be ordained: three Vatican diplomats, one Curial official, and a new Ordinary for Frascati, one of the seven suburbicarian sees around Rome (and former diocese of Cardinal Henry Stuart, the Cardinal-King, known to Jacobites as Henry IX). It took about two and a half hours: an hour from the start till the end of the Gospel, an hour for the Ordinations (including homily), and half an hour for the Eucharistic Liturgy.

A few parts only were not in Latin; the Pope's words of introduction, the two first readings (annoyingly and unnecessarily read by a layman and laywoman - when instituted lectors ought suffice), the homily, and the Communion Psalm (Psalm 22, The Lord is my Shepherd).

The texts of the Liturgy were nearly all sung. The Misereatur wasn't, and with no lectors the first two readings weren't either; but a deacon sang the Gospel of the sending of the seventy-two beautifully.

His Holiness preached an excellent homily, of which I could understand just enough to look forward to finding an English translation of it...

The words in presentation of the ordinandi, the questions and promises, the giving of the Gospel, ring, mitre, and staff were spoken also, as was the prayer after the Litanies (which would have fitted better if sung) and the prayer of consecration of the new bishops (which traditionally would have been sung, albeit it is very long).

As for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, a vast surprise for me was that in St Peter's itself, not one man stood at the Orate fratres, nor until after all had responded to it - so much for the new General Instruction!

The Prayer over the Gifts was spoken also (a pity, it fits better if chanted), as was the Eucharistic Prayer after the Sanctus, the prayer for peace (which also can fittingly be sung), the Ecce Agnus Dei, and the three clauses of the Solemn Blessing before the final benediction.

Communion was a bit of a scrimmage: one eventually found one's way to the nearest barrier, and a priest came by with a ciborium. It seemed safest to receive on the hand, lest in the melee the Host fall to the ground... (I easily become nervous about this when standing; if I could have knelt it would have been far otherwise.)

The Holy Father of course has restored kneeling for Communion at the rail where he administers the Sacrament: now for this to be extended throughout the great Basilica!

The Ordinary was the Missa cum Jubilo (am I right that this is Our Lady's Mass? the Pope referred to to-day as feast of the Holy Name of Mary in his introduction and his homily). The Ite missa est was also from this setting. Oddly, though it was printed, the Kyrie wasn't sung: when the organ boomed forth after the penitential rite (the 3rd form, two versicles), the Holy Father at once intoned the Gloria, which I suspect he wasn't supposed to (even Homer nods), and the M.C. prudently decided not to cause embarrassment by stopping him.

As for the Proper, this came from the Simple Gradual, dressed up with some typical Sistine choir polyphony for the verses. It actually resembled the Missa normativa, the first draft of the Novus Ordo, with a responsorial psalm sung at the start, in between the readings, at the offertory (this was actually the beautiful Ubi caritas, answering to a responsorial canticle) and at communion (this last was sung in Italian, as a sop to the people). The Alleluia was that placid tame same-old one sung the whole world over: A-le-lu-ya, a-a-le-lu-ya-a, a-le-e-lu-u-ya!

It being an Ordination Mass, the hymn Veni Creator was sung, and the Litanies of the Saints chanted; the one showpiece of the choir was a motet, Exsultate Deo, during the laying on of hands (with so many bishops present, this took forever); and almost at the end of the Mass, the new bishops processed about giving their first pontifical blessings, during a chanted Te Deum.

Unfortunately, despite the deacon singing Flectamus genua before the Litanies, few of the faithful knelt (the serried ranks of clergy up the front all did), making mockery of his Levate afterward. More disappointingly, few knelt even for the consecration - remember that in Italy, the norm is to kneel not for the whole Eucharistic Prayer, but for the Epiclesis, Consecration, and Elevations only.


Anonymous said...

May I ask why the posts are entered under the heading of the following day, instead of the day on which they are actually written? Today's ordination mass, e.g., took place on Saturday, 12th September, and not tomorrow, i.e. on Sunday, 13th September.

Anonymous said...

I found it out! You started your blog while still in Australia. But presently you are in Rome and it is very confusing to see Central European events described in terms of Australian time. Couldn't you perhaps adjust the blog's timing system to CET as long as you stay in Italy? That would make it almost perfect in all regards!

petamick said...

Hey Joshua - we saw that Mass on EWTN! I found it very moving when each new bishop was presented the Book of the Gospels, the purple zucchetto, the ring, the mitre and the crozier!
Pete's Mum :)

Joshua said...

Anonymous, I think that's a somewhat pedantic request! No, I'll leave it as is; and do assume at least a pseudonym.