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A simpler time.


ROME -- Pope Francis's low-key style has been amply demonstrated ever since he emerged on the balcony of St. Peter's. But since that time a lot of us have been wondering: Are his liturgical preferences simple too? At this morning's Vatican press conference, we started getting answers. Here's what to expect from tomorrow's Mass for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome:

At 8:50 a.m. local time (that's 3:50 Eastern), Francis will hop in some sort of popemobile -- either open or closed -- and drive through St. Peter's Square to greet the people. You'll see the superior generals of the Jesuits and Franciscans, who will concelebrate (with about 180 others). You'll also see the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople -- the last time one of those attended a papal inauguration was 1054.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will present Francis with the pallium -- he's the one who declared, "Habemus papam!" And the pope's Ring of the Fisherman will be presented by Cardinal Angelo Sodano. What kind of ring? Sort of a hand-me-down. The ring belonged to Pope Paul VI's personal secretary, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi -- and it won't be solid gold, but gold-plated silver. (Here's what it looks like.)

You'll hear the regular readings for Tuesday, the Feast of St. Joseph -- not the readings that go with the Mass for a papal inauguration. The first will be in English; the second Spanish. And the Gospel will be chanted only in Greek -- not both Greek and Latin, as is customary. The pope will preach only in Italian, as he did when he met with journalists on Saturday and when he gave his Angelus address yesterday. Evidently he wasn't kidding about that whole bishop-of-Rome thing.

You won't see an offeratory procession. You will hear prayers of the faithful for government leaders -- and of course for the poor. Nor will the pope distribute Communion (hundreds of deacons and priests will handle that).

The idea, Vatican spokesmen explained, is to keep the Mass as short as possible. (They're predicting two hours.) But you might see something else in these decisions, perhaps a smaller kind of papacy.

About the Author

Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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If the pope wants to return to giving Communion to people who are standing rather than kneeling, what better time to start?. He is the pope. Non ha senso. It doesn't make sense.

Youll hear the regular readings for Tuesday, the Feast of St. Joseph not the readings that go with the Mass for a papal inauguration.

Excellent choice. For someone who is being criticized for his liturgical style, Pope Francis is hitting all the essential notes. If you are serious about liturgy being formative for the whole Church, then the whole Church from the top on down should follow the liturgical rhythms, including the cycle of readings as much as possible.Besides, you cannot find a more apt model of fatherhood, spiritual or actual, than Joseph. According to Benedict in his book on the infancy narrative, when he discovered that Mary was pregnant, Joseph sought to interpret and apply the law correctly. He wishes her well even in his great disappointment. He does not embody the form of externalized legalism that Jesus denounces and Paul opposes. He seeks the path that brings law and love into a unity. According to Benedict not only is Joseph righteous but the scripture shows him to perceive the divine and discern.Easy for the whole Church to follow along by meditating on the reading of the day as they are the same reading that will be read on the day of Pope Francis' installation!

I suspect this is a clever way of avoiding the spectacle of people kneeling before the pope to receive Communion on the tongue, as Benedict required.

Any sign that Msgr. Guido Marini, the master of pontifical liturgical ceremonies who was ever present to BXVI's left during liturgies, has been updating his resume? ;)

Why will the pope not give out Communion? There is no time element involved in that since it is usually limited to fifty, one hundred people LAY people. And why no procession at the preparation of the gifts, which can be limited to several LAY people?It looks like there are going to be 20 mph winds. Hold on to your zucchetto!

This is a good start. Maybe later there will be women distributing communion as well .... properly clothed and veiled, of course!

I wish he did give communion - standing, sitting, kneeling, whatever.So far he's more like a deacon than a priest.What is he waiting for? Is there a problem?

And the new Missal makes sense in English?

Grant, how do you think I would respond?Thanks again for your fine, "you-are-there" reports.

This all sounds really good :) Maybe this has something to do with one of the things Joh Sobrino SJ mentioned in his interview (see other dotCommonweal post) - that pact of the catacombs against pomp and ceremony in the Church.

When asked about some of the differences in his diocese compared to Rome Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez of Honduras said: "Between us and Rome there is a very big ocean." That ocean seems to be coming to the Tiber. Francis may not eb ready to dramatize how stiff and irrelevant the pompous birds have been.

At Sundays Mass at the Vatican parish church, news reports noted that Francis also did not distribute Communion.It occurs to me that by not distributing Communion himself (at least temporarily) he avoids for the time being two possible sources of disputes.1. If he chooses not to continue Benedicts practice of personally giving Communion only to persons who kneel and receive on the tongue.2. If he gives Communion to some controversial person who comes forward at the intallation Mass (e.g. Nancy Pelosi).It may be that he has decided that he has enough to deal with right now and that the issue of distributing Communion can be left to be resolved in the future.

Missa in Latino claims that Gammarelli has delivered a rush order for a mozetta for tomorrow's ceremony.


CNS reports that Francis made his own telephone call to the Jesuit Father General to thank him for a congratulatory letter he had sent - and had to convince the Jesuit receptionist that he really was the Pope.

John Hayes:Yes, Pope Francis did not give out Communion at Santa Anna on Sunday. But the celebrant always gives out Communion, unless impeded by age or health. Why this anomaly? Perhaps he simply refused when he was told that two kneelers would temporarily be placed before the altar for the assembly to receive Communion (and on the tongue, which may be the rule in Vatican City, but certainly not in Rome itself). I strongly suspect that kneeling to receive Communion is not the normal practice at Santa Anna, which is under the care of the Augustinians (OSA), a community that has had a large part in my life since I was fourteen. They are, like the pope, strongly pastoral and down-to-earth. At their principal church in Rome, Sant'Agostino in Campo Marzio, my "parish church" in Rome, those who go to Communion always stand, and receive on the tongue or in the hand according to the individual's preference.At papal Masses the dignitaries present do not receive Communion from the pope, but rather a representative group of women religious and lay people, including families, is chosen in the days preceding the Mass. Representatives of national delegations receive from a priest assigned to give Communion on the right side of the Sagrato (the broad upper level of the steps, where the altar is placed.)This may all seem like trivial, insider baseball, but I believe that a fundamental liturgical principle with respect to the celebrant's role is being set aside for today's Inaugural Mass.

Agreed. He's big on connecting to people, but here is a strong liturgical connection that gets broken.

He's very old. Maybe he can't stand up for a half hour. It happens. Believe me.

My bet: Pope Francis prefers to give Communion on the hands to people standing, but he is a very humble and kind man so he doesnt want make this rebuttal of the B16 in his inaugural days.

After lots of grey days, a sunny day in Rome. The Pope seemed subdued during the Mass. He was most alive during the homily, but did not appear to depart from his text, in Italian. (The Vatican television transmission kept breaking up.) The homily, focusing on St. Joseph, was fairly brief and pastoral.It would be interesting to know whether Pope Francis has ever celebrated Mass in Latin. He was ordained in December 1969, when very likely the Mass in Argentina was fully in Spanish, though still in a provisional form. He prayed the Latin prayers in a very quiet voice, carefully looking at the book. He did not sing. Whether this has to do with the lung surgery he had many yeas ago is not clear.The Pope broke with custom, and stood to give the homily, and without wearing the miter. The miter was again the same one that he brought to Rome with him for the conclave. The simply designed vestments and miter matched. Were the vestments also from home, or newly made for him in Rome?A first, at least in my experience, a young boy sang the responsorial psalm in Latin. He didn't falter. A man, probably American, read the first reading in English; the second was read in Spanish by a woman. The master of ceremonies had planned that the liturgy would last for two hours, and it did. No doubt, the Pope will in time become more at ease celebrating in St. Peter's, and make changes that make him feel more at home.Clearly he is a man who lights up in less formal, more spontaneous situations. At the beginning of his homily, he saluted Pope Benedict on his feast day.

The homily I couldn't hear because of the poor transmission, I have now read. It is a joy. It focuses on Saint Joseph as guardian of the Holy Family. We too are called to be guardians of creation and of those most in need. There is a strong appeal to governments to protect creation. The words bonta' and tenerezza recur. Kindness and tenderness. These are not signs of weakness, but of great strength.Pope Francis ended simply: "Pray for me."Hardly an adequate summary. You will want to read the whole. A blessed Saint Joseph's Day!

Well, a partly sunny day in Rome.

John Page:"But the celebrant always gives out Communion, unless impeded by age or health." Is this written in stone. If so where? Or Is it just assumed?It may be that Pope Francis did not wish to call attention to himself. You know, see the pope distribution communion. To whom? Blah, blah, blah.With regard to the mozetta issue - Here is some information that can be found on the handy dandy source called Wikipedia:"The pope wears five versions of the mozzetta: the summer mozzetta, which is of red satin; the winter mozzetta, which is of red velvet trimmed with white ermine fur; the red serge mozzetta, which is worn during masses for the deceased; the red clothed mozzetta, which is worn during the Lenten and Advent season; and the Paschal mozzetta, which is of white damask silk trimmed with white fur. The Paschal mozzetta is worn only during Eastertide."I would be surprised to see him wearing a mozzetta.

Helen:What a glorious day!No. 117 of The General instruction of the Roman Missal reads :"He [the priest] takes the paten or a ciborium and goes to the communicants. If Communion is given only under the form of bread, he raises the host slightly and shows it to each one saying; "The Body of Christ." The communicants reply: "Amen."I don't recall ever being at a public Mass (as opposed to a private Mass at a side altar years ago) where the celebrant did not give out Communion. With one exception. On that occasion, Father Walter Burghardt, S.J,, then in his late eighties, having preached a superb homily, as usual, at Holy Trinity Parish, Washington, and then continued the Mass, began to feel slightly ill at Communion time. To my surprise, he asked me, one of the readers, to give out Communion for him. There were also a number of already assigned extraordinary ministers of Communion. There was no emergency in the end. Father Burghardt finished the Mass, and returned to Gonzaga HS, where he was living in those days.Popes always give out Communion to a small number of religious and lay people at their public Masses, even their Inaugural Masses, until today.Those chosen to receive Communion are not celebrities, so there is no commenting on who they are. They are just ordinary people. I read and received Communion at a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's in October 1984. An unknown, for sure!Pope Francis did give Communion to the five (?) deacons today. Why no lay people? There's got to be a story there, and no doubt it will come out.(I intended to send this directly to you only, but then realized that I was typing in the comment box, and had forgotten to press your e-mail address. Given my execrable, very slow typing, I can't start over now. In any case, I think that interest on dotC has moved elsewhere. So, probably no harm.)

Maybe Pope Francis didn't give out Communion because it was simpler that way? I read that the Pope wanted to shorten the ceremony drastically, from 3 hours to 2.

Ann Olivier:The pope sat for over twenty minutes, waiting for the priests, who were not concelebrants, and deacons to give Communion to the vast crowds in the square. Why didn't any of the cardinal concelebrants participate in giving Communion to the faithful. They are, for the most part, pastors (bishops of dioceses) above all.Five/ten minutes of Pope Francis's more than twenty-minute wait could have gone to giving Holy Communion to twenty or thirty lay people, including Sisters, who are lay people who have chosen to live a consecrated life. How would that have lengthened the Mass?I've said enough, too much, on the new pope. It's time for Holy Week.

Looking at pictures of B 16, I was amazed at the bizarre regalia brought out of storage, most lately the fanon. Msgr. Guido was dressing the pope like an Infant of Prague, not to mention the outre liturgical stylings of Card. Burke. I don't find any of that inherently holy, solemn, mystery-laden or prayerful. It simply calls attention to the power of the ordained as mediator with God. I was at a medieval play and Mass broke out.I am so happy that the celebration of the Eucharist seems to be returning to a prayer of the entire Church, not just the clergy. After all sacraments are for the people of God and not the reverse.The energy put into "ad orientem" shows a betrayal of the necessary role of the full human person, especially face-to-face in worship. Are we not all in the image and likeness of God? I guess the giant candlesticks, visual walls, can be put down and away from the altar now.

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