Sunday, 5 June 2011

Will the new English translation be enough?

This question is poised by by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Prior of the Diocesan Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma on his blog, Vultus Christi. I had a conversation last week with a Toronto priest currently undertaking a repair of a wreckovation and a major infrastructure renovation of a church. He opined that the "single, most damaging reform to the Mass is the priest facing the people."

Yet, last week at a conference in Toronto on the new Missal, a colleague conducting a children's choir at the parish where I chant on Saturdays expressed her shock that "ad orientem" might actually occur. A few days later, when inviting someone to the upcoming Missa Solemnis at St. Mark's she indicated that her "husband doesn't care for the priest turning his back on the people."

How did we become so disoriented?

Here is Father Kirby's blogpost:


By Father Mark Daniel Kirby
Having had time, over the past few days and nights, to reflect on various aspects of the reform of the Sacred Liturgy, and in the light of what I have been experiencing here in Italy, it occurred to me that I might share some of my thoughts with the readers of Vultus Christi.
Mass Facing the People: The Single Greatest Obstacle to the Reform
Here in Italy it is evident that churches were designed and constructed with an eye to the absolute centrality of the altar with priest and people facing together in the same direction. The placement, within perfectly proportioned sanctuaries, of secondary altars to allow for Mass facing the people has utterly destroyed the harmony, order, and spaciousness that the Sacred Liturgy, by its very nature, requires.
The Cheek-by-Jowl Ambo
Adding insult to injury, these versus populum altars are, more often than not cheek by jowl with a lectern (or ambo) that effectively impedes any movement around the altar, and positively discourages the incensation of the altar at the Introit and Offertory of the Mass.
Crucifix, Candles, and Flowers
Here in Italy -- and also in France -- the traditional symmetrical arrangement of the candles and crucifix has all but disappeared in favour of a curious asymmetrical disposition that nearly always includes a bouquet of flowers placed at one end of the altar, one, two, or three candles at the opposite end, and a crucifix somewhere in the sanctuary that may or may not be construed as having an inherent relationship with the altar.
The Priest Magnified
Apart from these considerations, the most deleterious effect continues to be the magnification of the priest and of his personality. The theological direction of all liturgical prayer -- ad Patrem, per Filium, in Spiritu -- is obscured, while the priest, even in spite of himself, appears to be, at every moment, addressing the faithful or engaging personally with them.
It's All About Me
Certain priests and bishops, marked by a streak of narcissism, abuse their position in front of and over the congregation to soak up the attention and energy of the faithful, attention and energy that, by right, belong to God alone during the Sacred Liturgy.
Placed in front of and over the congregation, priests an bishops all too easily give in to an arrogant liturgical clericalism, subjecting the faithful to their own additions amendments, comments, and embolisms. The faithful, being a captive audience, are subjected to the personality of the priest, which can and often does obscure the purity of the liturgical actions and texts that constitute the Roman Rite.
Translation and Business As Usual
The New English Translation of the Roman Missal will not, of itself, be enough to bring about an authentic reform and renewal of the Novus Ordo Missae. A deeper and broader reform is needed, one that must, necessarily, begin with bishops and with their priests charged with the care of souls.
Where to Start?
What concrete steps might be taken? It is fully within the authority of bishops to mandate and prescribe, for example, that two arrangements of the sanctuary will be allowed in their dioceses.
The Altar
In churches possessing an ad orientem altar integral to the architectural genius of the original design of the apse or of the sanctuary, secondary versus populum altars should be removed, and the sanctuaries should be restored to the original order, harmony, and spaciousness that characterized them.
In churches possessing only a versus populum altar, that altar should be so arranged as to place the crucifix, with the corpus facing the priest, in a central position with three candles at either side, following the Roman practice. Ideally there should be a space of minimally five feet on all sides of a free-standing altar, so as to facilitate the necessary ritual incensations and so as to allow, whenever possible, the celebration of the Mass ad orientem.


Owen said...

"colleague...expressed her shock that "ad orientem" might actually occur." Cracked me up. I only have three words: bring, it, on.

Vox Cantoris said...

Owen, a retired Catholic school Principal, Masters Degree, goes to show ya!