The Mass started at the Trophaeum of St. Peter, the chest above the tomb of St. Peter where the pallia are kept. Traditionally, pallia are made from the wool of lambds. These lambs were blessed on January 23rd, the Feast of St. Agnus, by the Pope. Usually, they are distributed to new metropolitan archbishops on June 29th in Rome by the Pope.
Pope Benedict XVI, along with the Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, visit the tomb. They light the thurible and incenses the Trophaeum. This is a sign of the unity of both Pope Benedict XVI with St. Peter, the first pope as well as the Eastern Patriarchs to the Bishop of Rome, their Pope.
Meanwhile, Deacons took the Papal Pallium, the Fisherman’s Ring and the Book of Gospels into procession. The Holy Father then joined the procession in his proper place.
Something that I had noticed: The penitential rite did not seem to be there. Upon reading the ritual booklet published by the Vatican (and “unofficially translated” by the Pontificial Commission for Social Communication), the Laudes Regiae, or “Royal Praises”, were sung as both the entrance hymn and the penitential rite.
This litany seems to have origins in the Middle Ages when royals entered for worship. I have not found the version used tonight online, except for the context of this Mass.
The litany asks Christ to hear us. It repeats this request throughout the litany (which is much like the Litany of Saints) asking Christ to listen to the Church and to bless it. There are multiple sections asking Christ to hear us and bless the Successor of St. Peter. The Litany ends with St. Benedict.
The Holy Father kisses the altar and then incenses it.
The liturgy continues in the usual way: In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He greets the people and the singing of the Laudes Regiae concludes. The Kyrie and Gloria follow as usual.
The Holy Father then prays the collect:
Let us pray.
O God, who in the plan of your wisdom built your Church on the rock of Peter, head of the apostolic college, look with love on me your servant:
you who chose me as successor of Peter, help me to make visible to your people the principle and foundation of unity in faith and the communion of love in Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
He who is God and lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
The Liturgy of the Word continues with a reading from Acts 4:8-12 in English, Psalm 117 in Latin and 1 Peter 5:1-5, 10-11 in Spanish.
The Gospel (John 21:15-19) was sung in Latin then Greek. This is done as a sign of unity among the two lungs of the Church as represented in the Office of the Supreme Pontiff. Something I enjoy about the reading of the Gospel in Greek is that they follow the traditional greeting for the Eastern Rites: “Wisdom! Let us stand for the Holy Gospel. Be attentive!”
Following the singing of the Gospels, a small procession from the altar, with the pallium and ring, goes from the altar to the Holy Father’s chair. The head of the three orders of Cardinals (deacons, priests and bishops), all standing, meet the Holy Father, who is wearing the mitre. As a note of clarification, all three of the people I mentioned are cardinals (and thus bishops). The ordering into deacons, priests and bishops, as far as the layman is concerned, means nothing but a means of ranking them in accordance with their function in the Church.
The Senior Cardinal Deacon (Protodeacon) says this prayer and then places the pallium on the Pope:
May the God of Peace, who resurrected from the dead the Great Pastor of sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, give to you Himself this Pallium taken from the Confession of the Apostle Peter.
The Good Shepherd commanded Peter to tend his sheep and (also) to you today as the person in succession to the Episcopacy of this Church which he built out of faith together with the Apostle Paul.
May the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, give you abundant inspiration and discernment in your ministry to confirm your brothers in the unity of faith.
The Senior Cardinal Priest then prays:
Let us pray.
O God who never fails those who call on you with a right and faithful heart, hear the prayers of your Church: to your servant, our Pope Benedict, whom you placed at the head of the apostolic ministry, through our humble service, give us your blessing and strengthen it with the Gift of your Spirit so that its highest ministry corresponds to the greatness of the charisma you have conferred upon him. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
The Dean of the College of Cardinals, or in this case, Cardinal Sodano as the Vice-Dean, since the Dean was Cardinal Ratzinger, prays the following and give the Pontiff the Fisherman’s Ring:
Most Holy Father, may Christ Himself, Son of the Living God, Pastor and Bishop of our souls, who built his Church on the rock, give you the Ring, seal of Peter the Fisherman, who lived his hope on the Sea of Tiberias and to whom the Lord Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Today you succeed Blessed Saint Peter in the Episcopacy of this Church, who presides over the communion of unity according to the teaching of the Blessed Apostle Paul. May the Spirit of Love spreading from our hearts permeate you with strength and gentleness in your ministry to take care of the believers in Christ in the unity of communion.
Tweleve people from around the world then give a sign of obedience to the Pope. These included three cardinals, one bishop, one priest, one deacon, two religious, a married couple and two young people who were just confirmed.
The homily was given, the Creed was said and the Prayers of the Faithful (in German, French, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese) were offered.
The Mass, using Eucharistic Prayer I, continues in the usual way.
Pope Benedict XVI’s homily gave us a look on the papal symbols, the pallium and the Fisherman’s Ring. Look for another post in the coming day with more about that, but for now, good night to all.