Sunday, 20 January 2013
Is "ad orientem" to be the norm?
Of course, this has been seen to be the "norm" everywhere since the promulgation of the new order of the Mass in 1970 and many will agree that it is the single most damaging aspect to the Mass in either Form. The The priest has become the showman, he is no longer seen as "another Christ" re-presenting the Sacrifice of Calvary, but a Presider over a Supper and as Pope Benedict XVI in the Spirit of the Liturgy wrote, we are now a community "turned inward on ourselves" instead of being focused on the LORD and His propitiating sacrifice.
In the Third Roman Missal, in two places; at the "Pray brethren (my brothers and sisters)" and at "May the peace..." the priest is instructed, "facing the people the priest says...". If the instruction is to "face the people" where then does the Missal presume the priest if facing?
Cardinal Canizares, the Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been quoted in Zenit as saying that the "The Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, that it stressed the importance of Christ on the altar, reflected in Benedict XVI's celebration of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing the altar. This does not exclude the priest facing the people, in particular during the reading of the word of God. He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost." Speaking at a conference on liturgy at the Spanish Embassy, the Cardinal confirmed the publication soon of an Instruction for priests and laity alike on the celebration of and participation in the Mass. "We are preparing it, I hope it will come out this year, in the summer," according to Zenit.
As a middle way, Pope Benedict XVI, in the same book previously referred to wrote of what we now call the "Benedictine arrangement" of six candles and a crucifix on the altar between the priest and people to focus everyone, especially he priest, back on Christ. The reality is, this is not being implemented.
Perhaps then the Holy Father and the Prefect realize that the example is not going to be followed and that what is going to be necessary is Instruction.
Are we seeing then the beginning of new liturgical movement to address this matter? Will the the Congregation order this with an implementation period of perhaps five years for all altars to be moved or reconstructed to face literal or liturgical east and the priest will no longer face the people. In the meantime, will the Benedictine arrangement be mandatory?
Let us pray that this becomes the norm and that the indication of further work in sacred music and architecture are also high on the agenda.