Solemn Mass to Begin Process of Papal Election

Liturgy Centered Around the Vocation of the Pope

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2005 ( United in prayer with the universal Church, 115 cardinal electors will begin the process to elect the new pope with a solemn Mass «For the Election of the Roman Pontiff.»

The Mass in St. Peter’s on Monday at 10 a.m. will be presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the dean of the College of Cardinals.

Invited to the Mass are «all the other cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, and the laity of all the people of God present in Rome, to manifest unanimously the communion of the Church and to raise prayers,» according to the «Ordo Rituum Conclavis.»

The document outlining the rites of the conclave emphasizes that «the Eucharistic concelebration of the cardinal electors before entering the conclave is of the greatest importance.»

The cardinal electors, coming from 52 countries, will then process to the Sistine Chapel, where the election will take place.

Red vestments will be used in the Mass, and the liturgy is centered on the vocation of the Pope.

«O God, eternal pastor, who rule your people with the solicitude of a father, give your Church a Pontiff that is pleasing to you because of his holiness of life, entirely consecrated to the service of your people,» the celebrant will pray at the beginning of the Mass.

The first reading is from Isaiah 61:1-3a,6a,8b-9: «The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.»

The second reading is from Ephesians 4:11-16: Christ’s «gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers … for the building up of the body of Christ.»

The Gospel, John 15:9-17, focuses on the how the Pope will be chosen: «You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.»

In the prayer of the faithful, after praying «for the Church spread all over the earth, that God may guard and protect her,» there will be a special prayer «for the cardinals called to elect the Roman Pontiff so that, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they will indicate a worthy father and Pastor of the Church, who will be dedicated with all his strength to the service of the people of God.»

Prayers will also be said for deceased Pope John Paul II: «Who on earth guided the people of God with apostolic charity, with the Word and with deeds, that he may rest with Christ, Good Shepherd, in happiness, light and peace.»

Reference will be made in the preface to the mission of the Holy Spirit in the Church, giving thanks to God the Father: «At all times you give new energies to your Church and throughout her journey you admirably guide and protect her. With the power of your Holy Spirit you assure her of your support and she, in her confident love, never ceases to invoke you in trials and joys always thanking you through Christ Our Lord.»

Communion will be followed by the prayer: «O Father, who in this sacrament of salvation has restored us with the body and blood of your Son,» adding «give us a holy pastor who enlightens your people with the truth of the Gospel and builds it with the witness of life.»

Once the solemn Eucharist concludes, the cardinals will return to Domus Sanctae Marthae until they enter the conclave in the afternoon of the same day.

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