LITURGY COME ALIVE (By Fr. Anthony Agnes)
Reflection: “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”
In the ancient Liturgy for papal coronations which was the official inauguration (installation) of a new Pope after his election, there was a little rite with theological beauty and significance that was done to remind the new Pope to be humble even as he assumes the grandeur and pageantry associated with the high office of the Successor of St. Peter.
As the new Pope was been carried in procession majestically seated on his “sedia gestatoria” (papal chair) to the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica amidst cheers from the faithful, the procession would pause three times on the way and at each pause the Papal Master of Ceremonies would raise up a pole and on it burnt some tow (a kind of a wig) and as the ashes from the tow vanished into the thin air, he would shout in a chant to the new Pope “Sancte Pater, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world). This gesture was theologically deep and immediately impressed on the new Pontiff of the Catholic world that temporal power passes, all glories of this world fades away. Thus, the Pope is nothing before the presence of God just like the ashes disappearing within a twinkle of an eye. After the third reminder he was then taken to the high altar to begin the coronation ceremony to inaugurate his papal ministry.
Though this ceremony was replaced after the Second Vatican Council in favour of a much more simpler inauguration ceremony, it still remains true that the Pope, Bishops and priests are all called to be humble in their ways and, especially, in the exercise of their duties even after they have been elevated to the high offices of service within the Church. It is also a reminder to all of us Catholics when we find ourselves in places and offices of power within the Church or outside the Church that all temporal power passes, all earthly power fades, only God has absolute power in this world. Humility is all that is needed.
Sursum Corda…Habemus ad Dominum!
© Ask The Catholic Priest