On Sunday, October 15th, transitional Deacon Mitchell Brown from the Diocese of Gallup had the honor of chanting the Gospel at the Canonization Mass of 35 new saints at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Deacon Mitchell was ordained a deacon in the summer of 2017 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and is in the final year of seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Deacon Mitchell graciously agreed to a brief interview regarding the event, which you can find below, along with the video of the Gospel reading.
Voice of the Southwest: How were you selected as the reader of the Gospel?
Each year the NAC faculty sends the names of deacons who have been in choir and know how to chant to the Capella Sistina. After that, one of the conductors there contacted me to set up an appointment for a “try-out.” We worked on a couple things, all the while me thinking that this was for some time in the future. At the end of the practice, he said, “Ok, how’s this Sunday work for you?” I was left rather stunned! After the shock hit, I said, rather quietly I’m sure, “That would work just fine!” He then gave me a time to be in St. Peter’s Square for rehearsal and have me the Gospel passage for the day so I could practice.
VoSW: Was the process of reading for a canonization Mass different than a regular Sunday Mass?
The chanting of the Gospel itself was the same as it would be anywhere, and that was rather comforting since I have chanted the Gospel before and was familiar with that portion of it all. Since it was a Papal Mass, however, there were two rehearsals with the various Papal Masters of Ceremonies.
VoSW: As you went up for a blessing from the Pope, what sort of thoughts did you have?
While I would certainly like to say that I had some lofty spiritual insights, in all honesty my thoughts were “Don’t fall! Don’t drop the Book of the Gospels!” Also when I was receiving the blessing from His Holiness, I realized that we were so far from him when being blessed that I couldn’t actually hear the words, and I remember thinking “Well, I guess I’ll make the Sign of the Cross now and hope it is the right time!” It wasn’t until the Mass was over, really, that I realized on a more spiritually profound level what had just happened and I was overcome with great joy at the blessing the Lord had given me in this opportunity.
VoSW: Was there any extra training or preparation required of you for a Papal Mass?
Besides the two rehearsals and some personal practice on chanting the Gospel, there wasn’t much else, which rather surprised me since it was such a large Mass.
VoSW: Any other thoughts or comments?
The one thought that really hit me walking home from the canonization was “I’m from tiny, little Grants, NM and the Lord chose me to chant the Gospel at Mass with His Vicar on earth…what just happened?!” It was a rather piercing moment, because it helped me to see yet again the complete gratuitousness of God’s love for us, and reminded me yet again that He is constantly giving us graces and gifts, if we are but open to receiving them.