Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Marini II: A "Development in Continuity"

With exactly a week to go 'til his first foreign trip, the new master-impresario of papal ceremonial, Msgr Guido Marini, gets the CNS Profile treatment:
Msgr. Marini, 43, did not plan every element of the five U.S. services, as he does with Vatican services, although he did make suggestions and did have veto power.

In an interview in early April, the monsignor said the readings, the prayers of the faithful, the music, and the readers and servers, for the most part, are those decided by the liturgy organizers in the archdioceses of Washington and New York, who coordinated their efforts with a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Female altar servers will be involved in some of the liturgies in accordance with local diocesan practice, he said. And, just as at the Vatican, men and women will alternate reading the Scriptures and the prayers of the faithful.

Early in the planning process for a papal trip, the monsignor said, his office sends the local church a set of guidelines, which is "substantially the same" as the set developed during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

"A few small things were modified to reflect the liturgical attitudes of Pope Benedict," he said; they include a request that a crucifix be placed on the altar for eucharistic celebrations, that concelebrating priests be as close to the altar as possible and that the offertory gifts be limited to the bread, wine and charitable gifts.

Msgr. Marini said the Vatican did not dictate the choice of music and hymns for the U.S. liturgies.

"The repertoire is rather vast," he said. "There will be Gregorian chant, polyphony and some hymns that are more popular in the American repertoire.

"I really like this variety of styles that has been prepared for the celebrations," he said....

Msgr. Marini knows that changes in papal liturgies at the Vatican have been fueling speculation and heated discussions on Italian blogs and Web sites; he insists the increased use of older liturgical elements -- such as Gregorian chant and ancient vestments -- do not indicate a return to the past but rather reflect "development in continuity."

"In the liturgy, as in the life of the church itself, development in continuity should be visible," he said. "There are great riches, treasures that we have received, that we cannot forget, but this does not mean we oppose new developments.

"Those who have preceded us created works of art, not so they would be admired in a museum, but so they would be used," Msgr. Marini said. "Using them today underlines our continuity with the past as we walk toward the future."...

The question of the number of concelebrants [at papal liturgies] "is not simply an aesthetic question, but has substance," which is why it is the subject of ongoing study at the Vatican, he said.

In addition to highlighting the unity of the celebrant and the concelebrants and the bond between the concelebrants and the altar, "there must be a direct relationship, including a visual one, between the words of consecration and the matter that is being consecrated," he said.

The concelebration question demonstrates that although Msgr. Marini, his co-workers, consultants and predecessors have considered and continue to study every aspect of papal Masses they are still searching for perfection, he said.

Nevertheless, the extremely soft-spoken monsignor said, "I hope the liturgical celebrations presided over by the Holy Father may be an example and also provide an orientation for the church in the United States."
PHOTO: Marco de Lauro/Getty