Here is a note that is going out to priests and deacons of the Diocese today:
Dear Reverend Fathers and Deacons of the Diocese of Des Moines,
After 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time (8:00 p.m. Rome time), on Thursday, February 28, 2013, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will no longer hold the office of Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, and the See of Peter will be vacant.
As you know, Bishop Pates has encouraged parishes to make use of the specific Mass formularies available during this time of transition. To that end, on Thursday, February 28, the 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Ambrose will be offered “For the Pope,” (Masses for Various Needs and Occasions #2). The Eucharistic Prayer will be, as suggested by the USCCB materials, Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions #1: The Church on the Path of Unity. Following the Mass, the Cathedral bell will ring until after 1:00 p.m., in gratitude for the Petrine ministry of Pope Benedict XVI.
I invite you to consider uniting in that spirit for your morning and noon Masses (if they conclude by 1:00 p.m.). If you have bells, you might ring them in festive fashion around or immediately after 1:00 p.m. Catholic Churches around the world and closer to home will be doing this. Use the Mass “For a Pope,” complete with white vestments. The Lectionary readings remain those for the Lenten weekday.
After 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, the Church will enter a time of prayer for the Church and the electors, the sede vacante or interregnum (“vacant see” or “between reigns”). During this time, consult the USCCB guide to see how to adjust Eucharistic Prayers. Put simply, the petitions for the Holy Father are omitted, but the materials have conveniently outlined how this is to be done. The Mass formulary “For the Election of a Pope” may be of interest sometime during the sede vacante, when the liturgical calendar allows (Lenten weekdays). After the new pope is elected, if the liturgical calendar allows, another Mass “For the Pope” may be offered.
The Worship Office has a web page with some information on the papal transition that you might consider sharing, if you find it helpful. Visit www.dmdiocese.org/papaltransition.cfm for prayers and other information. I’ve written a blog post with some information on this intriguing time in the life of our Church. Visit http://blog.dmdiocese.org/index.cfm?category=1. The USCCB has put together a very informative question and answer sheet on the papal transition that you might find helpful.
Blessings to each of you and your parish communities this season of Lent.