Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mass 'ad orientem'?

Local action as appropriate: most priests don't need the hassle, even if they would like to change to celebrating Mass towards the East, in conformity to the Church's traditions, so please support them when they do.

Why? Just think about it: is Mass an act of worship directed towards the congregation, or by the priest and the congregation towards God? Who are we worshipping? God is represented by liturgical East (the altar end of the church), and the Crucifix (and also the Tabernacle, where this is present).

In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said this:
The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning toward the East was not a "celebration toward the wall"; it did not mean that the priest "had his back to the people": the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian Liturgy the congregation looked together "toward the Lord". As one of the fathers of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, J.A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not lock themselves into a circle, they did not gaze at one another, but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us....
(See a much longer extract here).

After that, one understands why Fr Z says
Celebrating ad orientem is important. I think, as do others, that turning the altars around was the single most damaging thing that happened as a result of skewed ideas of liturgical reform.

Is it allowed?? Of course it is! Fr Z
gives chapter and verse.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen