Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lord of the Rings

According to the traditional school of thought, the college of cardinals -- the word itself shares its root with "hinge" -- forms more than just the pool of potential Popes, but literally part of the pontiff's very "body."

At this morning's Mass of the Rings, concelebrated with the 23 freshmen of what B16 called the "senate of the church," paramount to his homily was an appeal for the group to exemplify the unity and peace that, he said, is to be the church's image in the world.
The prayer for peace and Christian unity are the “first and main mission” for the new cardinals as it is for the entire Church both of which are called to be in its service....

The Pope reminded the cardinals that the “throne” [of Christ] that was raised is that of the Cross and the “entire hierarchy of the Church, each charisma and ministry, everything and everyone are in the service of His Lordship.”

To those who now belong to the Church’s “Senate,” the Pope talked about the crucifixion that is represented on their ring.

“This for you, dear new Brother Cardinals, will always be a reminder of the King you serve,” he said, “on what throne He has been elevated and how faithful he has been till the end when he defeated sin and death with the strength of divine mercy. Mother Church, Christ’s bride, gives you this insignia as a memento of Her Husband as Christ loved the church and handed Himself over for her (cf Eph 5:25). Thus, wearing the cardinalitial ring, you shall constantly be reminded to give your life to the Church.”

Taking his cue from today’s liturgical feast of Christ the King and from the “Christological hymn from the Epistle to the Colossians,” the Pontiff said that “this text of the Apostle expresses a synthesis of truth and faith that is so powerful that we cannot but admire it deeply. The Church is the repository of Christ’s mystery. It is so with humility and no trace of pride or arrogance because it is the highest gift that it was given, with no merit in getting it, but which it is called to offer freely to humanity in every age as a horizon of meaning and salvation. It is not philosophy, nor gnosis, even though it includes wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ, Christ Himself, Logos incarnate, who died and has risen, becoming the King of the universe. How not to feel a wave of enthusiasm filled with gratitude to be allowed to contemplate the splendour of this revelation? How at the same time can we not feel the joy and sense of responsibility to serve this King, bear witness with one’s life and words to His Lordship? This, in particular, is our task, my venerated Brother Cardinals, namely to announce to the world Christ’s truth, hope for every man and for the entire human family.”

“In the wake of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, my venerated Predecessors and Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II were true heralds Christ’s regality in today’s world. And it is for me a motive of consolation to always count on you, collegially and individually, in order to accomplish that fundamental task which is the Petrine ministry. In conclusion, closely united to this mission,” said the Pope, “is an aspect that I would like to touch upon and entrust to your prayers: peace among all of Christ’s disciples as a token of the peace that Jesus came to establish in the world.”
As with yesterday's consistory, ovations broke out for each of the new cardinals from their respective delegations as they approached Benedict to receive their rings. However, in another repeat of the conferral ceremony, the loudest ovations were reserved for the Iraqi Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean patriarch, whose faithful made an even more prominent showing today.

The first major Mass conducted under the gaze of the new Master of Liturgical Ceremonies, Msgr Guido Marini, continued the rookie ceremoniere's expected rollout of more traditional flourishes in the Pope's public worship.

For the first time at a routine papal liturgy, two cardinal-deacons -- the Colombian Dario Castrillion Hoyos and Baltimore/Denver's own J. Francis Stafford -- attended the pontiff, both vested in dalmatics. In another first, the large sanctuary cross flanked by six candles were placed across the front of the altar, directly between Benedict and the congregation in the nave. The arrangement reflects the liturgical mindset of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, who wrote of the elements serving as a sort of "iconostasis" in a Mass celebrated facing the people.

For the second day running, as rain fell upon the thousands gathered in the Piazza outside, Benedict returned to the Basilica's front steps following the Mass to greet the overflow crowd.

PHOTO 1, 3: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi
PHOTO 2: AP/Pier Paolo Cito
PHOTO 4: AP/Alessandra Tarantino