Christmas Liturgies

There will be some changes in the papal liturgies celebrated in this Christmas season in Rome.

The New Liturgical Movement website reports that Msgr. Guido Marini, master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, has discussed the subject with Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

A change to note with this evening’s Midnight Mass is the inclusion of a short prayer vigil preceding the Mass. The vigil will conclude with the Kalenda, or Christmas Proclamation, which in previous years had been included in the Mass.

At his Urbi et Orbi (The City and the World) blessing tomorrow, the Pope will wear choir dress rather than a cope and miter. According to The New Liturgical Movement, “The choice would seem to be connected to the fact that the Pope does not publicly celebrate the Missa in die, and is therefore not vested prior to the blessing.”

Benedict also plans to repeat a practice he’s already instituted of celebrating the Jan. 11 Mass of the Baptism of the Lord, which will take place in the Sistine Chapel, facing ad orientem (to the east) rather than toward the assembled people.

Msgr. Marini told Avvenire that “this means that at some points the Pope will turn towards the Crucified, thus underlining the correct orientation of the Eucharistic celebration. This is not about turning the back to the people, but about assuming the same orientation as the assembly, which precisely looks toward the Crucified.”

— Tom McFeely