Sunday, March 23, 2008

Re-cap of Highlights from a Liturgical Ceremonial Perspective

It goes without saying that what is first and foremost through all the Triduum is the Triduum itself; the liturgical commemoration of the Passion, Death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, and whose sacrifice we mystically and truly celebrate each and every day upon our altars.

That said, this is a liturgical site, and as such, we are also interested in the liturgical forms which clothe these realities, and which may also help us to gain further insight into the program of continuity and liturgical reform that is so important to Pope Benedict, and indeed, for the Church and the faithful

With that in mind, now that the Triduum is complete at the Holy See, I thought I would put together a brief photo montage of interesting liturgical sights we have seen starting a week ago on Palm Sunday. There are many things here we have either not seen before in recent decades, or which at least have not been seen with such frequency until this pontificate -- long may it last.

(My apologies this week for those with slow, dial-up connections. This week was bound to be photo-intensive. We will be back to normal in the next day or two.)

(A baroque style cope from our tradition and another papal staff)

(The "usual" altar arrangement - that we now can view this as so usual should be a cause of thanksgiving and joy)

(The traditional seven candlesticks and cross upon St. Peter's high altar)

(The ombrellino for the Eucharistic procession, lending an even greater emphasis upon Our Lord in the Eucharist)

(The seven acolytes in papal procession)

(The return of the baroque form of Roman chasuble, and the ever more frequent sight of traditionally styled dalmatics)

(The more traditonal style of raised papal throne)

Aside from what is photographable, we also had a significant use of Latin in the sacred ceremonies, as well as chant, and a homily which raised the history and importance of ad orientem in relation to the proper focus within the sacred liturgy.

Some get awkward about focus upon these things. They think one is focusing merely upon externals, or turning the liturgy into a "fashion show", but beauty is important on a variety of levels; signs and symbols are important. Our entire sacramental life is a mixture of external forms and interior realities that are linked to each other. This aspect of our tradition reaches back into Judaism itself and goes throughout our ecclesiastical history. Beauty is an echo of the divine and it speaks to sacred realities and sacred things. It is an expression not only of the objective dignity and importance of those realities, but it is also an expression of our own love and valuation of these divine gifts; a valuing of the worship of God the Father; a valuing of the Sacrifice of Christ; a valuing how these things effect both our own sanctification and that of our neighbour; a valuing of how these things have an evangelical power to speak to -- and potentially convert -- the world. Indeed, in valuing these things, we value worship and we value the power of beauty to teach and sanctify.

Some also have expressed some disappointment at other liturgical elements, but if one takes a look at these photos, all gathered from just the past week alone, one must be clear: Pope Pope Benedict is pursuing his programme of liturgical and ecclesiastical continuity, with the willing help of Msgr. Guido Marini.

The resurrection of the Lord can bring us great cause of joy and thankfulness on this day, and so too, liturgically, do we have much cause for rejoicing.

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