With the help of a couple screen shots, I can give you a sense of where I was when participating in the great ceremonies of the Triduum so far.
On Holy Thursday, I was just a few meters from the Pope’s cathedra in the apse of the the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Look for the little red circle.
The sermon was very good. However, I was somewhat surprised to watch H.E. Archbp. Marini put the chasuble on the Pope backward after the foot washing rite. This created some awkwardness as they turned it around on him. I loved the singing of the readings in Latin and in Greek. Though I am not a great fan of Greek, I know it pretty well… well enough simply to put the booklet down and listen, which was admittedly a profound experience especially in that context.
On Good Friday at the Basilica of St. Peter’s I was up in front again.
The ceremony was very long and the preacher, Fr. Cantalamessa leaves me a little flat. I deeply question their choice of the deacon for the Christus. However, I young fellow I know here in Rome was one of the deacons of the service. It was nice to see him get this wonderful memory. Two cardinal deacons flanked the Holy Father in miter and dalmatic.
It was terribly moving to watch the Holy Father walk unshod to kiss the feet of the Crucified One. There was nothing false about his humility in walking unshod. I knew him as Card. Ratzinger years back and remember his great humility and kindness. What you see in him is absolutely sincere.
On my way out the of the Basilica, H.E. the M.C. exited directly in front of me. A Basilica worker near the door jumped out of his skin at his approach. He didn’t look very happy and was moving fast. It struck me as odd that he was leaving by that route, but it was definitely the quickest exit from the building.|
If I had had my camera…. but… instead of being a journalist, I simply went with surplice and simplicity.
An observation for those involved in liturgy:
These big papal Masses and ceremonies can given clergy and those who handle liturgical preparation some real food for thought. Sometimes, in my opinion, those who run ceremonies fall into the trap of thinking that solemn means reeeeeally sloooowwwww. Contrarily, many ceremonies leave you feeling nervous, because they are too rushed. They lack dignity. If you go the other way, however, you run the risk of losing track of the beginning by the time you get to the end. It is a tricky business being an M.C. You need a highly developed sense of timing and … this is key the ability to instill time and tempo in those who are serving. Slow does not mean solemn. Fast does not really communicate competence. The same goes for liturgical music, especially Gregorian chant. Remember: chant is first and foremost language, the melody suited to the text. It must always be comprehensible in its pace as language. But I digress.
As you are reading this, please stop right here and say a prayer for the Pope, who has 80 years now, and must be very tired.
V. Let us pray for Benedict XVI, the Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.
Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Benedict, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
And yet at the Via Crucis at tonight, he spoke extemporaneously about Christ’s heart of flesh. Amazing. According to his extemporaneous talk at the Via Crucis, pray for the suffering in the world.