This blog has been pretty quiet lately. The truth is that I had something of a rough landing back here in Rome; as soon as I got back I caught a cold. Combined with the jet lag, it made for some miserable days. For three nights I was up at midnight, no longer able to sleep and troubled by one of various, persevarating fever/anxiety dreams. If Martin Luther said that Romans were 'polished deceivers,' I have found this to be quite true regarding Roman colds. At the beginning you think, 'O.k., I have a cold, but this one doesn't seem like it will be so bad.' But then, on day three or so, it gets quite yucky.
Fortunately, things here are still more or less in a mode of summer quiet. In these days we have been observing the orario super-estivo, the 'super summer schedule.' This means, among other things, that instead of the regular observance of Morning Prayer at 6:30, a period of meditation following, and then Mass at 7:15, we just have Mauds* at 7:15.
In the celebration of Mauds, the psalmody of Morning Prayer replaces the Penitential Act of the Mass. Thus, the presider has to manage somehow the somewhat awkward liturgical seam between the greeting after the Sign of the Cross, The Lord be with you... and the beginning of the psalmody. Being attentive to such things, I'm always observing how the various priests do this, thinking on what might be the best way, given that that neither the Missal nor the Liturgy of the Hours (as far as I can tell) gives any direction. When it was my turn to be principal celebrant last Sunday, I kept it simple and only said something like, 'Dear brothers, let us begin our Sunday celebration, praising God with the psalmody.' I don't know I feel about that, though. It's the sort of liturgical line that reminds one that he is offering Mass without the deacon that ought be there to give such liturgical monitiones.
In any case, the friar who ended up as presiding celebrant for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross today has won this little challenge as far as I'm concerned. After the Sign of the Cross and the greeting, he said something like this:
'Dear brothers, we celebrate today the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. With the Empress Helena we are on pilgrimage to the Holy Land; she to the earthly Jerusalem, we to the heavenly one by means of praying the psalms.'
*Since the Roman rite seems to have no proper name for it, 'Mauds' is the name I give to the liturgy that results when Mass is combined with Morning Prayer, a portmanteau of 'Mass' and 'Lauds.' For more information, see my post, "On the Various Forms of Prass.'