Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Papal Mass for the Epiphany

This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict is celebrating Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany in the Vatican Basilica.

The Holy Father is wearing a Roman chasuble which belonged to Pope Paul VI. This is the third time that Pope Benedict wears a chasuble preceding the liturgical reforms, and the most prominent occasion so far, since the first occasion was Good Friday, on which Mass is not celebrated, and the chasuble worn without pontifical dalmatic, whereas the second occasion was the Mass on the 50 anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Pius XII. The significance of this is less in the fact that the Holy Father is wearing this particular cut of vestment - although it certainly underlines appropriately that this cut, just as the fuller cuts of earlier epochs, is part of the precious heritage of our Holy Church and has in no way been repudiated - than in the external illustration of the hermeneutic of continuity. Just as the traditional Missal has never been abrogated, so too the liturgical vestments, vessels and furnishings used until the liturgical reforms have never been "abrogated" and may and should freely be used, especially if they are of artistic value.

In the same vein we note with joy that the splendid throne of Bl. Pius IX, in which the handing over of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter is depicted, and which figures in most papal portrays, has been recovered. It had not been used, if memory serves, in the last thirty years or so.

There are Cardinal Deacons, and, as is the custom for the Epiphany, no concelebrants.

A special element of the liturgy of the feast of the Epiphany (in the OF as well as in the EF): The announcement of the date of Easter and of the moveable feasts:

The homily (which is very interesting and, among other things, ties the cosmological dimension of the Epiphany in with the anniversary of Galileo. Here is a link to the Italian original, and a translation by the invaluable Teresa Benedetta can be found here):

Offertory procession and offertory:

Incensation of the altar:

The Holy Father being incensed:


The Roman Canon:

Genuflection after the Consecration:

"Omni benedictione cœlesti et gratia repleamur":

Geneflection before the Ecce Agnus Dei:

Communion of the faithful:

A nice detail of the chasuble:

The final blessing:

The Holy Father leaving, in the first picture with seminarians form the Collegium Urbanianum:

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