Saturday, 12 June 2010

Papal liturgy setting an example

Elsewhere on Catholic blogs, there is not infrequent consideration of how the liturgy as celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI seeks to teach and set an example that can be followed by others in the Church.

Two recent thoughts have occurred to me, thoughts which others citing Pope Benedict's celebrations as examples might not wish to see as examples.

Thought number one:

Mgr Marini, the Papal MC, is reported recently as indicating that it is not for the moment expected that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form. In the words of Rome Reports account:
He says that for now it is not expected that the pope will celebrate a mass according to rites prior to the Second Vatican Council.

Thought number two:

The celebration of Mass in St Peter's Basilica for the closing of the Year for Priests .... was a concelebration by Pope Benedict XVI and some 15 000 priests, bishops and Cardinals. At least one report suggests that it was the largest number of concelbrants at a single Mass ever.

I do have a difficulty with the concept of "presiding", which appears to me to have become a necessary part of the language of the ordinary form because of concelebration. The function of "presiding" distinguishes the role of the principle celebrant from the other celebrants; this has then extended to seeing the single celebrant as also "presiding".
A closer look at the notion of concelebration does, in my view, remove the need for this rather non-theological notion of presiding. The first and strongest occasion of concelebration is when the priests, who are his co-workers, celebrate Mass with the Bishop. Quite naturally, the office of the Bishop is that of the principle celebrant - so that his priests celebrate with him - and the idea of "presiding" is redundant. This same idea can be seen analogically when a religious superior concelebrates with priest members of his community, or a parish priest/pastor concelebrates with his assistant priests. Again, the natural office makes the idea of "presiding" redundant. And at the closing of the Year for Priests it can be seen in the priests concelebrating with the Pope.
I wonder what example Pope Benedict wishes us to take away from these two thoughts?

No comments: