Sunday, October 29, 2006

Liturgical Adventures in Rome

I was delighted to find that the FSSP church was about 5 minutes walk from the Casa del Clero and went to the evening low Mass one night. Fr Devillers was the celebrant. I hadn`t packed a missal and could make out very few words of the Mass, which was surprising given that it is such a tiny church, but I found the whole thing very moving. I rarely have the opportunity to just attend a low Mass and because I don`t think the `dialogue Mass` is a good idea I worry what people must make of the lack of congregation vocal participation, but I was pleased to say I found it very prayerful and I suppose I was just glad to be in a place where people felt the same about the liturgy. I went back on Sunday morning for the Missa Cantata which was attended by about 30 people in all including a good number of seminarians. I was pleasantly surprised when a four part choir started to sing the ordinary although I forgot to ask anyone which Mass setting it was. I had a chat with Fr Kramer after Mass who had no news about the forthcoming liberalisation of the traditional Mass although I had met a seminarian during my stay who knew someone who knew someone who had seen a signed copy of the new indult! Fr Kramer had also been at the CIEL conference but somehow we hadn`t met each other there.

On Sunday afternoon I went for a walk around the churches of Trastevere with Fr John Cooper. He is keen on the new movements and wanted to find the San Egidio community. We noticed that they were celebrating a Mass in Santa Maria in Trastevere at 5pm so we went in for it. I had heard of the Sant` Egidio community in the context of inter-faith dialogue and Fr Greg Price said they had stopped some wars in Africa but I wasn`t expecting anything interesting from a liturgical point of view. My memory of Italian Masses was that the music mainly consisted of hymns to tunes such as the Old Hundredth. However I was quite impressed. There were no hymns at Mass. The music was provided by a choir which sang rather in the style of the Russian Orthodox and from their Mass books they have a certain number of set pieces to be sung as the introit or offertory etc. There wasn`t an instrumental group which I had rather expected. The Mass was concelebrated by about 7 priests. I wondered if they might have some special practices like the Neo-Catechumenate but there were only a couple. During the Gloria a priest brought the lectionary from the back of church and a very large candle, like a paschal candle, accompanied it which was then placed on the epistle side. The Gospel itself was read from the pulpit halfway down the aisle and halfway up a pillar, so it wasn`t possible to incense the book but the acolytes and thurifer stood in the nave facing the priest reading the Gospel. Holy Communion was given by intinction which I also thought was interesting. Overall I was rather encouraged.

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