About John Lilburne


Midnight Mass last year

Instituted Lectors


Midnight Mass at Vatican

On Christmas day I saw the beginning of the Midnight Mass at the Vatican. It was broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and I recorded it.

According to the Vatican's liturgical books the first two readings should be done by an Instituted Lector who should wear vestments. Only in the absence of an institued lector would other lay people do these readings.

But at this Mass the first reading was done by a man in suit and tie. The second reading was done by a woman in a red dress (correction: a red top).

So in 2002 the Vatican publishes a Roman Missal which clarifies these instructions about instituted lectors. But at the 2002 Midnight Mass, broadcast around the world, it ignores them.

This inconsistency can only weaken the Catholic Church and, more generally, Christianity.

Update 2 January 2003

I watched the video this morning. Archbishop John Foley did the commentary for the broadcast and said the first reader was Ravo DeSilva and the second reader was Annie Lawrence.

I was surprised that the Book of the Gospels was not placed on the altar, but on a separate stand. Accord to the 2000 Study Translation of the Roman Missal, n. 122: "; the Book of the Gospels is placed on the altar." This translated the 2000 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM): "; Evangeliarium super altare deponitur." But the 2002 Roman Missal changed this to: "; Evangeliarium laudabiliter super altare deponitur." So according to the 2002 Roman Missal it is praiseworthy or fitting, but optional, to put the Book of the Gospels on the altar.

But the procession of the book before the reading was not consistent with the Roman Missal. What should happen is that the deacon goes to the bishop, receives the blessing, makes the sign of the cross and then gets the Book of the Gospels and goes to the ambo. Instead at the Midnight Mass the deacon first collected the Book of the Gospels, processed to the Pope and received the blessing while holding it. The instructions in the 2000 Study Translation of the GIRM, n. 175 are:

"The priest blesses him: The Lord be in your heart. The deacon signs himself with the sign of the cross and responds: Amen. Then he takes the Book of the Gospels which was fittingly laid on the altar, processes to the ambo ..."

(The only change here from the 2000 to the 2002 Roman Missal is the removal of the word "laudabiliter", translated as "fittingly". It was added to n. 122 and removed from n. 175, which is confusing.)

The deacon did not make the sign of the cross, because he was holding the Book of the Gospels with both hands. I believe this is the only time where a liturgical book says the sign of the cross is to be made by the person being blessed, but it did not happen.

At the end of the Mass it does not say that the people or concelebrants are to make the sign of the cross when they are blessed. But I noticed that the Masters of Ceremonies did.

Obviously the Pope was unwell. When he was supposed to begin the Creed he began something else until Bishop Marini, the Master of Ceremonies, corrected him. The commentator said there was a special light chalice for the Pope to use, but he did not hold it.

I was disappointed that the 2002 Roman Missal was not used. The 2002 edition is large and has red tabs, but the one for the Midnight Mass was quite small and had red and green tabs. Perhaps it was the 1975 Roman Missal in Latin or a translation.

By J.R. Lilburne, 28 December 2002. Updated 2 January 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.