Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Master of Ceremonies

The MC is a very interesting role. Not officially part of the liturgy, but he still plays a vital role. We all know the usefulness of an MC to organize and direct the ceremony, but apart from that what exactly does he do? Well I see three different methods, that can interchange and even fuse together.

The Current Papal Master of Ceremonies demonstrates the first method. In a nutshell, think Deacon of honor, with out the dalmatic, basically an assistant in choir dress, who flanks the celebrant for the whole liturgy. Duties including sitting next to him, handing things to him, etc. Basically a personal assistant. My main criticism of this method, is that it turns the MC in to a quasi deacon of honor.
The second Method is the floater. It is found in the old ceremonial. The MC has no fixed roll, hiding in the shadows, making sure things are done, giving orders and directing things. When required he takes the deacons place, such as in the Missa Cantata.

The final method is modeled on the old assistant priest. The highest ranking member of the bishop's house hold. A priest, basically vested in surplice, amice and cope. The Mc emulates him, he follows the celebrant, but not as his side, he stands rather then sits near the celebrant, he incenses him when required (the deacon not being there), he assists with the boat (again in the absence of the deacon) and assists with the missal.

In short we have three diffrent roles and or styles of MCing, the floater, the assistant deacon and the assitant priest. Depending on the level of Mass, the MC takes one or up to all three of these roles. I as an MC find myself constantly switching between the three, depending on the situtation. With the removal of deacons of honour and the assitant priest in the pontifical form of the ordinary form, the MC frequently finds himself assuming their roles not only in the solemn and sung form of the Mass, but even the pontifical form (I found myself doing that on more then one occasion). I wonder what the 8th century MC, found himself doing?

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