Thursday, October 02, 2008

Elevations at the Papal Mass

One year ago yesterday, Msgr. Guido Marini was appointed as Master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. Over this year, we have gratefully witnessed the application of the hermeneutic of continuity to papal liturgies, including the return of many traditional elements of the Roman Rite in general - most important among which the return of the Cross to its central position on the altar - and of the papal Mass in particular - the traditional form of the ferula, for instance. These elements have been added in a gradual way, so as not to cause ruptures and confusion by sudden drastic changes.

Since we mentioned yesterday the application of the hermeneutic of continuity to the Ordinary Form by the example of the form of the elevation of the Host after the Consecration, I was reminded of one element of the tradition of the papal Mass which we have not yet seen restored: the special form of the elevation of the Sacred Species in the Solemn Papal Mass. This used to be performed in the following manner: after the "normal" elevation as done at every Mass, the Pope would turn by 90 degrees to the right (epistle side) and again elevate the Host/Chalice, then 90 degrees more to right (thus having his back towards the altar) for another elevation, and finally turn to the left by 270 degrees (thus facing towards the Gospel side) for a fourth elevation, before turning back towards the altar and setting down the Host/Chalice. In this manner he symbolically showed our Lord and God in the Sacred Species to the four cardinal points, i.e. the entire earth.

An example can be seen in the following video of the Coronation Mass of Bl. John XXIII (go to 2:50):

Now, this practice was not abolished after the liturgical reforms. In fact, even John Paul II continued it until his illness prevented him from doing so. Here is an example of a papal Mass in 1985 (go to 1:20; you will notice, however, that instead of four distinct elevations, it is now a continuous elevation):

It would certainly be very welcome if this traditional manner of elevation at the Papal Mass towards the four points of the compass (preferably with the four distinct elevations) would be one of the next elements reintroduced in the ongoing Benedictine restoration of the sacred.

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