06 February 2013

The ars celebrandi, Marini style

More often than not, the work of the Master of Ceremonies goes largely unnoticed, and this is as it should be.  The Master of Ceremonies should really simply blend into the background, as it were.  His task is to be the unseen guiding hand of those involved in the liturgical celebration.

Even so, every now and again a Master of Ceremonies may have a particular moment to shine, as in the recent case of Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations.  You've likely seen his face before, even if you did not take any notice of him or know his name.

I've often looked to his example in my work as Priest Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop.  I must say: I am particularly impressed with his reaction to a ligurgical mishap that took place last Saturday in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome when the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord:

Precisely what happened, I cannot quite make out.  It seems to me, though, that upon reaching the altar Pope Benedict XVI, for one reason or another, let go of the pastoral staff.  Thankfully, Msgr. Marini has a quick eye and swift reflexes.

What most impresses me about the entire situation is not so much that Msgr. Marini was able to save the staff from banging to the ground, but that he handed it back to the Holy Father as though nothing at all had ocurred.  Indeed, the Pope seems to take no notice whatever.

Whenever something goes wrongly in a liturgical celebration, the Master of Ceremonies should never overreact.  Rather, he should remain calm - at least externally - and draw as little attention to the situation as possible.  He should move in such a way as to quietly make up for whatever has gone poorly.  Everything should be done with an eye to the ars celebrandi, to the art of celebrating.

Thank you, Msgr. Marini, for a job very well done indeed!

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