To acquire a ”notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of the liturgical celebration” (Motu Proprio, Benedict XVI, July 2007) or an exploration into the theological, historical, devotional, liturgical, ritualistic, architectural, artistic, linguistic, practical, legalistic, mystical… aspects of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
On the Maniple
Why does the celebrant use the cope for the Asperges Me? Why does the priest remove the maniple and the chasuble when he preaches?
The Mass is the sacramental and liturgical action by which the very same Sacrifice of the Cross is continued upon the altar. Therefore, this is a whole and one action that cannot be broken apart. From the first sign of the Cross at the foot of the altar to the Last Gospel, the celebrant remains at the altar. The Asperges Me, the sermon or homily, the blessings of palms or ashes, the processions are not integral parts of the Mass. They are adjacent to the Mass.
The celebrant is wearing the Cope (A cape covering the whole shoulders) and no maniple for Asperges, processions and solemn vespers. The maniple is part of the vestments of the priest celebrating the Mass (in the rubrics of 1967, it is not mentioned anymore). It is a short piece of fabric that was formerly worn on the left arm by workers to dry their sweat. The prayer said for the vesting of the maniple is “Lord, may I worthily bear the maniple of tears and sorrow so as to receive the reward of my labor with rejoicing.” It is then a sign of the call of the priest to be a worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The maniple is now ornate and used only during the celebration of the Mass. When the Mass needs to be interrupted, as during the reading of a translation of the Epistle or the Gospel, or the sermon, the Celebrant removes it. This is a worthy practice to be kept in use even though not absolutely mandatory. Placing the chasuble on the altar is of the same effect.
The point is that nothing “human” or “profane” should be introduced in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. These signs—as the removal of the maniple– show that the words to be uttered by the priest during the sermon are his own and a parenthesis in the Act of Christ.