Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, discusses some of the liturgical changes implemented by our Holy Father:
The increase in some aspects of solemnity in papal liturgies is perhaps even more noteworthy. The Holy Father and his personally appointed master of liturgical celebrations have clearly opted to restore some elements that had fallen into disuse, in order to give more splendor to the rites.
This can be seen in the style of albs, surplices and vestments used in the celebrations. In some cases this means using older vestments from the pontifical sacristy such as the magnificent golden miter used in the elevation of new cardinals. This miter, emblazoned with the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe, had been a gift from Mexican Catholics to Blessed Pope Pius IX.
The violet cope used for this year’s Palm Sunday procession was a new and faithful replica of one that had belonged to the renaissance Medici Pope Leo X. The custom has also been revived of having two cardinal deacons, in miter and dalmatic, accompany the Pope in these processions to hold the cope.
The practice of placing the crucifix at the center of the altar in front of the celebrant is certainly a personal initiative of Benedict XVI.
He had already made this suggestion as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” For him this practice is a means of creating a “liturgical east” that helps the celebrant to concentrate on the essential meaning of the sacrifice of the Mass even when celebrating facing the people.