Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Liturgical Report from Mexico City, International Congress on Families

One of our priestly readers who is particularly involved in the project of reforming the reform recently submitted this report to the NLM with regard to the closing Mass for the International Congress on Families in Mexico City. This was held this past Sunday, January 18th. The Mass was celebrated by the Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone and was aired on EWTN.

He found certain aspects quite interesting and reports as follows:

Almost the entire Mass was in Latin, except for the parts normally in the vernacular (i.e., the Scripture readings and General Intercessions), although two parts done in Spanish were somewhat surprising -- the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. At any rate, the predominance of Latin was most welcome and a sign that finally both "Redemptionis Sacramentum" and "Sacramentum Caritatis" are being taken seriously in their demand that international Masses be celebrated in Latin.

The music was quite lovely. The "Missa de Angelis" was used for the Ordinary (the usual "default" setting), with good vernacular hymnody. Congregational participation was excellent and the choirs were good.

Seminarians served the Mass (interestingly, wearing gloves!); only ordinary ministers of Holy Communion administered the Sacrament.

A pleasant/sacral setting was provided for the presbyterium, with a beautiful cross as the focal point (very Hispanic in its graphic detail).

Pope Benedict participated in the Sacred Liturgy via satellite, shown at a throne before a television set in the apostolic palace, wearing choir dress. He addressed the assembly live at the conclusion of the Mass.

Apparently the "Benedictine arrangement" was not in evidence, but we also know this is taking some time to spread amongst the Roman cardinals.

Without diminuishing the importance of this arrangement -- or better yet, ad orientem -- we can be very thankful that chant and the Latin language have begun to penetrate into these events further, even when the Pope is not the celebrant. This will hopefully provide an example to those priests there present, which they in turn will hopefully begin to carry back to their own parish churches, much like many have been -- and continue to do so -- with regard to the Benedictine altar arrangement. The exclusive use of ordinary ministers of Holy Communion is also a positive step worth noting.

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