Blemishes in the Mass beginning Contemplate - Launch Out, particularly with regard to the blessings used.


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More on Contemplate - Launch Out, 23 May 2002

The Pope's speech to the US Cardinals, 24 April 2002


1550 K Sat 25 May 2002

Last night I went to the Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral beginning a two year plan in Melbourne, Contemplate - Launch Out.

There were lots of good things about it: a big crowd, lots of enthusiasm, and magnificent work by artists and organizers. I was particularly pleased that everyone stood for the Kyrie and Gloria.

In his speech to the US Cardinals the Pope said: "A great work of art may be blemished, but its beauty remains". I agree, but I see the blemishes are especially unfortunate given the painting's beauty. If possible they should be removed.

With last night's Mass I see the following breaches of liturgical law as blemishes.

1. Instituted lectors were not used. Instead the readings were done by Allan Panozza and Lyndal Hill. They read well. I have a lot of respect for Allan Panozza who is on the Pontifical Council for the Laity. But as far as I know he has not been instituted as a lector, as some of last night's altar servers have been. If he has been instituted as a lector he was not wearing vestments (as required by the General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n. 54).

2. There was a blessing of icons in the Mass. These are to be taken to the parishes. But according to the Book of Blessings, n. 1259

Whenever a new sacred image is first exposed for public veneration by the faithful, particularly in a church there should be a solemn blessing by use of the special rite given here; but the rite is not to be celebrated within Mass. ...

The rite for the crowning of an image of Our Lady can take place in Mass, but this should not have been.

3. There was a Commissioning Ceremony for parish representatives of Contemplate - Launch Out. This seems to have been composed for the occasion. For example part of it was Archbishop Hart asking:

Do you accept the responsibility of placing this Icon in a central place where Our Lady of Perpetual Help may pray with us for God's grace as we embark upon this mission?

Those being commissioned replied:

We do, praying for the support and encouragement of the whole parish community.

Some "commissionings" of people should take place in Mass. For example ordinations of priests, the institution of lectors and acolytes, and the rite of perpetual profession for a nun.

The Book of Blessings for the USA even has blessings that can take place in Mass for other ministries: those who exercise pastoral service, readers, altar servers, musicians, etc. But the ceremonies consist only of General Intercessions and a Prayer of Blessing. The ceremony for commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion includes an "examination" -- asking questions and getting commitments, but this is the only exception.

So I see it as wrong to be commissioning people in this way for this task. It tends to reduce the importance of the ministries that should be commissioned in this way, with an examination.

I expect those participating are well meaning people and will try to their tasks well. It makes the blemishes all the worse, tending to undermine an important ministry and the 2 year plan.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 25 May 2002.