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« Ignatius Press has moved! | Main | Food for thought... »

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Comments

Dan Deeny

Does this mean that people in New York will face Jerusalem, where Jesus died, and people in Japan will face California where ... other events happened? And what about people in Russia, or South Africa? Do Christians believe that Jesus will return at a specific place?

David K. Monroe

Despite being a non-Catholic Christian, I am entirely perplexed that this idea of the celebrant facing away from the congregation during the Mass has ever caused so much controversy. How ignorant does one have to be to feel personally offended at the priest facing away from the congregation? How can one consider it "inconsiderate" if one has even a modicum of understanding about the reason for the posture and what it signifies? Is there any truly reasonable argument that supports this interpretation?

Augustine

However, the same Card. Ratzinger stated that it's not sensible to change the priest's position anymore. Rather, he suggested a crucifix on the altar to Whom both the priest and the faithful look to at Consecration.

History apart, it's sad to see faithful people suggesting to do this act of violence on those who've never known another liturgy and are pretty happy about it when it's said reverently as it should always be.

In my case, it's not that I miss the priest's face, but rather the Lord's face on His Body and Blood.

TJM

I think most people are not satisfied with the reformed Liturgy and they have voted with their feet. The change to versus populum from ad orientem was based on faulty scholarship in the 1960s and has had deleterious consequences, the most annoying being the "Entertainer Priest" phenomenon.

Ted Krasnicki

David Monroe:
Ratzinger does not think that it "is not sensible" to change back to the traditional and apostolic orientation; he has fears with creating another liturgical revolution that, as one commentator above mentioned, people will again make a statement with their feet. The large crucifix on the ad populum altar is only a temporary and gradual step. The way the New Mass was implemented at the parish level after Vatican II was brutal Ratzinger says somewhere. One must not repeat that mistake. The Church is deeply divided and any changes must be implemented with great caution so as not to divide any further. I must also say that today way too many churchgoers and priests are poorly educated and highly influenced by the surrounding secular culture and this affects among other things their preference for the conference-table style worship. But brick by brick, very slowly, the sacred can be restored. All this will take quite some time.

Jim Ryland

As a church musician that grew up in the pre-Vatican II church and one who has also served many Eastern and high Anglican parishes, ad orientem seems the norm with good reason. The celebrant does not remain turned away from the congregation but turns to them at many places in the Mass for blessings and, certainly, for the homily.

It will be interesting to see how the logistics are handled since many older chancels have been altered (no pun intended) and newer structures are without a "high altar", completely.

Jim Ryland

David Deavel

"In my case, it's not that I miss the priest's face, but rather the Lord's face on His Body and Blood."

I don't know what this means.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

One has to endure helpless amazement while reading how Catholics face reformed Liturgy that is chaotic and diverse depending what Diocese you belong to. For as long as Catholics feel deprived of the sacred inner element of the Eucharist, the Mass will continue to be changed and deformed.
The Magisterium cannot and should not be processed as trickledown anything.

Augustine

David,

I meant that I don't care about any communal aspect of the priest turned towards the faithful, but I do care about witnessing the miracle of Transubstantiation at the moment of consecration.

HTH

Ashley Collins

I grew up in an old small parish where there was not much in regards to statuary and such and the priest faced the people. Then one day, I attended Mass at St. Michael the Archangel in Chicago. This parish had a 10 story piece of architecture representing (to me) Heaven that had saints in every nook and cranny with the Tabernacle in the the center on the bottom. The priest did not face the tabernacle during Mass but it made me understand even more the significance to the facing the other way. I am not sure if Churches these days are built in order to face the east, but since attending this Mass, I don't see the eastern orientation as significant. Rather, I see the priest facing the tabernacle and therefore Christ as a member of the flock on earth and truly representing us and offering the sacrifice on our (the laity's) behalf toward Heaven. I will never forget the picture in my old Baltimore Catechism of the priest facing the east and a flame representing our love of God and our worship of Him FLOWING from us and up through the priest toward Christ. I say, let's turn that priest back around.

Bender

The priest no more "faces the people" than the priest "turns his back on the people."

Properly understood, the priest and the people face the same direction -- toward the altar. Simply because they are on opposite sides of the altar does not convert that to facing each other. Rather, they each face the altar, which is appropriately the center of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

And, as an alter Christus, acting in persona Christi it is proper that the priest should be on the opposite side of the altar, so that the people can look this "other Christ" in the face, rather than being on the same side with everyone facing in the same geographical direction with the Lord being set apart over, as if the priest himself were not an other Christ, but was merely a representative of the people, as in Jewish times.

Rich Leonardi

Bender,

In your comment you neglect to address several of the negative effects of versus populum that Bishop Slattery describes: (1) the lack of an apostolic or historic origin, (2) its overemphasis on the personality (and person) of the priest, and (3) the impression it conveys of a conversation about God rather than a worship of Him. Moreover, no one in the first twenty centuries of the Church thought that ad orientem insufficiently emphasized the priest's role as alter Christus.

Carl,

Thank you for putting this post together. I just purchased Fr. Lang's book and used some of your material for a pre-recording of my next segment for the Son Rise Morning Show. It will air at 7:35 am this Monday during the "national hour."

Mark Brumley

Properly understood, the priest and the people face the same direction -- toward the altar. Simply because they are on opposite sides of the altar does not convert that to facing each other. Rather, they each face the altar, which is appropriately the center of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

No, actually the people and the priest face each other. Watch what happens at most Masses. They're not mutually "facing the altar"; they facing each other most of the time. They direct their attention to each other most of the time, at least as far as their bodily orientation is concerned.

And, as an alter Christus, acting in persona Christi it is proper that the priest should be on the opposite side of the altar, so that the people can look this "other Christ" in the face, rather than being on the same side with everyone facing in the same geographical direction with the Lord being set apart over, as if the priest himself were not an other Christ, but was merely a representative of the people, as in Jewish times.


In the action of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the primary emphasis is not on the people looking Christ in the "face" (I thought they weren't looking at the priest but the altar?) but the people with and thru the ministerial priest, and therefore in Christ, "facing" the Father and offering the sacrifice of Christ to him. In the sacrificail action Christ is representative of the people. He can be so because he is the Father's Son sent into the world and as head of the Church. But in the action of drawing the Church into his self-gift to the Father, he represents us. The ministerial priest is an icon of Christ in that action of representing his body, the Church, to the Father. That action is not denied or completely lost in "facing the people", but it is obscured and tends to reinforce the image of the Eucharistic sacrifice as primarily a conservsation between the priest and the people. Ad orientem is a way of making clearer the fact that the Eucharistic sacrifice is the offering of Christ to the Father into which the people enter through and with the ministerial priest.

The "facing the peope" posture has some benefits. Greater clarity re: the nature of the Eucharistic action as that of Christ directed to the Father as expressed through orientation in liturgical action is not one of them.

Jackson

"What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it - as in a manufacturing process - with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product."

-Joseph Ratzinger, Preface to the French edition of Klaus Gamber's The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

LJ

Does this mean that people in New York will face Jerusalem, where Jesus died, and people in Japan will face California where ... other events happened? And what about people in Russia, or South Africa? Do Christians believe that Jesus will return at a specific place? - Dan Deeny

Facing east means facing "liturgical east." Some Churches are constructed with a north/south orientation, etc.

Mark Brumley

Does this mean that people in New York will face Jerusalem, where Jesus died, and people in Japan will face California where ... other events happened? And what about people in Russia, or South Africa? Do Christians believe that Jesus will return at a specific place?

I'm sorry, Dan, but the point or points of your questions elude(s) me.

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