The Archdiocese of Glasgow held its Mass of Thanksgiving and Prayer in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on 1 March. The esteem in which the Pope Emeritus is held was clear from the crowded church and the number of priests who came to concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop Tartaglia, a fact commented on by the Archbishop.
The St. Mungo Singers gave the congregation food for reflection before the Mass began, singing a number of motets and anthems invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit, including the Calvisius setting of Veni, Sancte Spiritus, and two contemporary hymns using the response “Veni, Veni, Sancte Spiritus”, before leading the congregation in the Tallis setting of Come, Holy Ghost as the Archbishop and clergy processed to the sanctuary.
The readings echoed the purpose of the Mass: Isaiah 61:1-3 (The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me), Psalm 103 (Send forth your Spirit, Lord) and Matthew 16:13-19 (You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church).
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia described the resignation of Pope Benedict to spend the remainder of his earthly journey as a “simple pilgrim” as an unprecedented act of humility. The church was now in uncharted waters and the effects of the Pope’s decision would only be known as they unfolded. Referring to the speculation about his successor, the Archbishop made the point that what is of importance is that the right candidate is chosen – and that it is God’s choice. Meanwhile we should give thanks for Pope Benedict’s labours for the Church – the work of a master catechist and teacher who had brought the Church, with the New Evangelisation, to the threshold of a new phase of its history.
The Intercessions which followed invited the congregation to pray for the Pope in his retirement, for the Cardinals as they met in conclave to choose his successor, and for the Church.
During the Preparation of the Gifts, the choir led the congregation in singing the John Henry Newman hymn “Firmly I Believe and Truly”, a very appropriate hymn for the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict.
At the end of the Mass, the Archbishop thanked everyone who had taken part and everyone who had helped to prepare it, including the young altar servers from Christ the King parish, making it a truly uplifting occasion. The final hymn, the Canticle from Colossians “Let’s Give Thanks to God our Father”, echoed this thankfulness for a service in which we had reflected on the good experiences of the past and looked forward with hope for what was to come.