VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The coincidence of a liturgical feast and the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death will mark Benedict XVI’s first Lent in the papacy.
Lent will begin on Ash Wednesday, March 1. At 5 p.m. Benedict XVI will preside over Mass and the blessing and imposition of ashes in the Roman Basilica of St. Sabina, according to the calendar of liturgical celebrations published by the Holy See.
At 6 p.m. the following Sunday, March 5 — the first of Lent — the Pope and Curia will begin their Spiritual Exercises in the Apostolic Palace’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel. That retreat ends Saturday, March 11. During that week, the Holy Father will suspend his audiences and dedicate himself to prayer.
At 9:30 a.m. on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, will make his second pastoral visit to a Roman parish and preside over Mass.
At 9:30 a.m. on March 19, the Third Sunday of Lent and feast of St. Joseph, the Holy Father will preside over Mass for workers at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The first anniversary of John Paul II’s death, April 2, coincides with the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The anniversary will be commemorated with a special ceremony on Monday, April 3: Benedict XVI will preside over a Mass in St. Peter’s for the repose of the soul of his predecessor.
At 9:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday, April 9, the start of Holy Week, the Pope will preside over the blessing of palms, the procession and Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
The calendar shows two novelties. On Holy Tuesday, April 11, the sacrament of reconciliation will be highlighted with a communal celebration also presided over by Benedict XVI. The celebration, which includes individual confession of sins, will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The sacrament of reconciliation is carried out this way in many parishes, which includes individual faithful approaching a priest for confession and absolution.
The second novelty is the day on which the celebration will take place. According to Archbishop Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical celebrations, “Until the Renaissance, this was also one of the traditional appointments and it took place on Holy Thursday,” reported the Italian episcopate’s newspaper Avvenire.
The whole Roman Curia will be invited to the Holy Tuesday celebration. The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff is studying the best way to make an adequate number of confessors available in the Vatican basilica during the rite.
The reason for changing this rite to Holy Tuesday is “not to crowd even more a day like Holy Thursday,” explained Archbishop Marini.
That morning, the Chrism Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s and, in the afternoon, the Easter triduum will begin. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Benedict XVI will preside over both celebrations on April 13, at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively.
At 5 p.m. on Good Friday, April 14, the Holy Father will preside over the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, in St. Peter’s Basilica and, at 9:15 p.m., over the Way of the Cross, at the Colosseum.
Last year, at John Paul II’s request, the meditations and prayers for the Way of the Cross were written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope).
Benedict XVI will also preside over the Easter Vigil Mass that begins at 10 p.m. Holy Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
At 10:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 16, the Holy Father will preside over the Mass in St. Peter’s Square and at noon will impart the blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of the Vatican basilica.
But for the exceptions mentioned, the Pope plans to keep to his schedule of general audiences on Wednesdays, his meeting with pilgrims on Sundays and holy days to pray the Angelus, and his private audiences.