At Year's Change, the Papal "States" Return
For one, the Apartment's Yuletide observance is traditionally bookended by major addresses where B16 shares his annual broad-scale impressions on matters internal and external.
The ad intra text -- the pontiff's "Christmas greeting" to the heads of the Roman Curia -- was delivered on 21 December, and an English translation of the talk appeared late last week. The ad extra one, however, is still to come: the customary New Year's PopeGreet to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See -- highlighted by what's become known as the "State of the World" speech -- is likely to take place, as it usually does, on Monday, the first day of Ordinary Time following Sunday's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the liturgical close of Christmas.
While the event -- the most intimate, light-hearted rite of the Vatican's ceremonial year thanks to the bimbi -- was instituted by John Paul II, Papa Ratzi's placed his stamp on the mid-morning Mass, restoring the use of both the Sistina's ancient celebrant's chair against its side wall, and the chapel's original altar, thus orienting the celebrant with the assembly toward the crucifix, and away from the people as a result.
The liturgy is likewise unique on the Pope's annual roster of rites for a not-so traditionalist reason, too -- like any good pastor aware of his congregation, B16 celebrates the Baptism Mass entirely in Italian, with only the Sanctus and Agnus Dei remaining in the papal chapel's usual Latin.
Speaking of PopeRites, the lead architect of Benedict's "reformed" celebrations -- the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies Msgr Guido Marini -- delivered a significant address on Benedict's concept of the "Spirit of the Liturgy" last night at a Roman conference for the Year of the Priest; the fulltext of Marini's talk is making the rounds... so, well, have at it.