About John Lilburne


2001 Midnight Mass

2002 Midnight Mass

2003 Midnight Mass

2004 Midnight Mass

2005 Midnight Mass

The television broadcast of the Christmas Midnight Mass is the first that I have seen celebrated by Pope Benedict.

I was pleased to see that the 2002 Roman Missal was used for this ceremony. But I was disappointed that it (and other liturgical books) were not followed in these areas:

The altar had four candles, not seven. (From the 2002 GIRM n. 117: "If the Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candles should be used.")

Despite instituted lectors being available the first reading was not proclaimed by one, but by a woman. She cannot have been instituted as a lector, since only men can be. (From 2002 GIRM n. 101 "In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture.")

The second reading was proclaimed by an instituted lector, Robert Lampitt. He was instituted on 16 January 2005. This is clear from photos of the ceremony, particularly this one with him standing at the Pontifical North American College website. But at the Midnight Mass the liturgical books were not followed since he did not:

a. wear vestments, like the cantor before him, as required by the General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n. 54.

b. sit in the sanctuary, as required by the 2002 GIRM n. 195: "Then the lector takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers."

The deacon who proclaimed the Gospel did not follow 2002 GIRM 175: "The priest blesses him, saying, Dominus sit it corde tuo (The Lord be in your heart). The deacon signs himself with the Sign of the Cross and responds, Amen. Having bowed to the altar, he then takes up the Book of the Gospels which was placed upon it." Instead he first picked up the Book, so he did not have a free hand to make the Sign of the Cross when blessed.

The importance of this Mass was stressed by the Pope on 20 December, as reported by the Vatican Information Service: "You know that today, through television and radio, many people all over the world follow this liturgy; from here they learn ... what the liturgy is and how it must be celebrated. That is why it is so important, not only that our masters of ceremonies show the Pope how to celebrate the liturgy well, but also that the Sistine Chapel should be an example of the beauty of song in praise of God."

Unfortunately confusion is created when it is not celebrated well, when the liturgical books are not followed.

By J.R. Lilburne, 27 December, 2005. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

PJStar.com article on lector Robert Lampitt

VIS report on Pope's talk to the Sistine Chapel Choir

pnac.org photo archive