John Lilburne's journal about Midnight Mass from St Peter's Basilica in Rome.



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1449 L Tue 25 Dec 2001

On television this morning "Midnight Mass from St Peter's Basilica Rome 2001" was shown. I recorded it on video and watched it this afternoon.

It was interesting to see the Cardinals, vestments and works of art. There was a good commentary by Archbishop John Foley, which provided translations. I was mainly watching to see how liturgical laws were followed.

The singing of what I think was called the "Calens" at the beginning was new to me. It does not seem to be in the Roman Missal.

I was glad to see that everyone remained standing for the Gloria, even though they had been standing for a long time with the Pope's introduction and the singing of the "Calens".

I was disappointed that instituted lectors were not used for the readings. The first reading was read by a woman (and so could not have been an instituted lector). The second was by someone named Daniel Rodregez, who was described as a seminarian from Newark, New Jersey. He did not wear vestments, but was dressed in a suit. So if he was an instituted lector he was not following the 1981 General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n. 54: "During the celebration of Mass with a congregation ... an instituted lector must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go to the lectern to read the word of God."

So it seems that in Saint Peter's Basilica they do not follow the 1981 General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n. 51: "When there are instituted lectors available, they are to carry out their office at least on Sundays and major feasts, especially at the principal Mass of the day." It is difficult to accept that instituted lectors are not available there.

I was glad to see that the psalm was sung from the ambo, which does not happen at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.

During the profession of faith the Pope and bishops knelt on both knees for part of the Creed. According to the 1989 Liturgical Press translation of the Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 143: "At the words By the power of the Holy Spirit, all bow; on Christmas and the Annunciation of the Lord all genuflect at these words." Perhaps there is a translation problem with "genuflect" being used, since they were kneeling.

According to this translation of the Ceremonial of Bishops, n 144, for the general intercessions:

Then one of the deacons, the cantor, a reader or some other person announces the intentions, either from the ambo or from some other suitable place and the people take part by responding.

The Latin text of this is:

Deinde unus e diaconis vel cantor vel lector vel alius ex ambone, aut ex alio loco convenienti, intentiones profert, populo pro sua parte participante.

The use of the word "one" (in Latin "unus") indicates that one person should read them. Instead I think there were six: three men and three women, none of them wearing vestments. After the intention was read a cantor sang the end, to which everyone responded. So this instruction does not seem to be followed.

Accoding to Monsignor Peter Elliott''s book Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, n. 111: "According to Roman practice and widespread custom, torches may be used at solemn Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer: two, four or six, according to the occasion, even eight for a solemn Mass celebrated by the bishop. The torch bearers bring them before the altar and remain kneeling with them until after the doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer." The video showed them, but I see no justification for using them in the liturgical books. They used "double swings" of the thurible, but again I see no justification for this in the liturgical books.

It was an interesting video to see and it highlights problems with practices not being in accord with liturgical laws.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 25 December 2001.