Monday, January 14, 2008

This will have them all a-twitter on the Trad blogs...



No, he isn't celebrating the Extraordinary Form ("Pre-Vatican II Mass")--he's doing the novus ordo versus crucifixum, as he has always recommended in his liturgical writings. Reuters reports
that the Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar set right against the wall instead of the altar placed on a mobile platform that allowed his predecessor John Paul II to face the faithful. The Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectonic jewel."
Fair enough too.

13 Comments:

At Monday, January 14, 2008 12:39:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tittering"?????

I'm not sure this important move warrants such dismissive contemptuous language.

At least, that's how it comes across.

No doubt, we will see Australia's priests rush to follow His Holiness, in loyal obedience to his example and explaining his move with sound teaching.

 
At Monday, January 14, 2008 2:03:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

"I'm not sure this important move warrants such dismissive contemptuous language.

At least, that's how it comes across."


Read again. It's not the pope's liturgical stance to which David applies the word "twitter", but the expected reaction from "trad blogs".

No doubt, we will see Australia's priests rush to follow His Holiness, in loyal obedience to his example and explaining his move with sound teaching.

Possibly, if they find themselves celebrating the Eucharistic in "architectonic jewels" like the Sistine Chapel. There are not many such in Australia, though, and in other settings no doubt they will follow the example the pope sets when he celebrates in St Peter's, and they will face the congregation.

 
At Monday, January 14, 2008 2:38:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thank you, Perry. That is indeed what I meant by "twitter" (not "titter" as Anon has it).

And sadly, I found myself thinking just the same thing about our lack of "architectonic jewels" in Australia.

The plain fact is that the pope used the altar and faced the crucifix. As he should. And as any other priest should. End of story.

 
At Monday, January 14, 2008 8:04:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

End of Story, indeed, David, because Australia's priests will ignore it. As they do almost anything from Rome. We're not part of the Roman church at all, are we...

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 1:18:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The plain fact is that the pope used the altar and faced the crucifix. As he should. And as any other priest should. End of story.

And as the younger generation sees this more and more it will have its effect.

I was delighted to hear that here in the U.S. at Notre Dame a chapel is already offering the Tridentine Rite. Those college kids who grew up without every knowing the beauty of the Tridentine will be able to discover it for themselves.

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 12:00:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

“End of Story, indeed, David, because Australia's priests will ignore it. As they do almost anything from Rome. We're not part of the Roman church at all, are we...

Ironic, really. The pope’s usual posture when celebrating public liturgies is facing the people. He departed from the norm on this occasion because of the design of the chapel, and because he did not wish to disturb its unique architectural and aesthetic qualities by introducing a second altar. Facing the people, in fact, appears to be the preferred posture not just of the pope but of the overwhelming majority of bishops and priests who celebrate the ordinary form of the Roman rite. Whenever the layout of the sanctuary makes this posture practicable, it is almost invariably adopted, despite the fact that the rubrics do not require it.

Who, then, is ignoring what comes from Rome? Surely if “loyal obedience to [the pope’s] example” is called for, we need to be loyal to his general practice of celebrating facing the people, rather than just to his exceptional practice of celebrating ad orientem where the sanctuary layout requires it, even if latter posture appeals more to our personal tastes?

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:11:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who, then, is ignoring what comes from Rome? Surely if “loyal obedience to [the pope’s] example” is called for, we need to be loyal to his general practice of celebrating facing the people, rather than just to his exceptional practice of celebrating ad orientem where the sanctuary layout requires it, even if latter posture appeals more to our personal tastes?"

Erhm, Peregrinus.

To begin with: taste is irrelevant. You taste and my taste. Irrelevant. What matters is what the Church asks of us for its Official Public Worship.

Methinks you need to read His Holiness' writings as Cardinal and - to coin a phrase - take a measure of where he's going with this.

The Church's long tradition has been to face toward God, not toward the people. His "The Spirit of the Liturgy" to name one example, gives a theological and catechetical treatment of this.

It is the false archeologism of the consilium post-Vatican II, that put forward facing the people as the norm in the eearly church. Scholarship since then has shown how flawed those views were. Look for example and Michael Uwe Lang's "Turning toward the Lord". In particular look at the author of the foreword.

You are right to say that the reason given thus far in the Vatican statement for this particular move last Sunday in the Sistine Chapel was - shall we say -slightly more aesthetic than theological. However, let us not be fooled or exaggeratedly narrow in our reading of these events. A very important thing happened last Sunday and this Pope, his MC, the Secretary to the CDW and the officials will start the program of explaining is theological rationale again, before too soon.

As for labelling his celebration ad orientem as "exceptional" - what do you thing he's doing at the Papal altar? The quirk of that space is that he is facing East at the same time as he is facing the people. The old practice was that the congregation would indeed turn around at the Consecration.

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 5:24:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

“To begin with: taste is irrelevant. You taste and my taste. Irrelevant. What matters is what the Church asks of us for its Official Public Worship.”

That’s my point. Taste is irrelevant. Your taste, my taste, and indeed the pope’s taste. “What the church asks of us” with respect to public worship is set out in the Missale Romanum and the GIRM. If you can find a requirement, or a preference, for an ad orientem posture in there, now would be a really good time to point to it.

The truth is that there is no such requirement, and so far as I know there never has been. Furthermore practice in the Roman rite has never been completely consistent. Not only in St Peter’s but in all the major basilicas of Rome, the practice has always been to celebrate facing the people. (And, no, they are not all oriented towards the East.)

The dominant liturgical posture has been driven partly by fashion – I don’t use the word in any derogatory sense here – and partly by practical considerations, most obviously the layout of the sanctuary (which in turn, of course, is affected by customs and expectations with regard to liturgical posture). There has in the last forty years or so been a large change of fashion, away from the ad orientem posture. (This has not, of course, happened in isolation from other changes in the church.) And – there is no escaping this – this shift has been endorsed by the pretty consistent practice of successive popes, as well as of the overwhelming majority of the world’s bishops.

Which is why I say that, if you appeal to “what comes from Rome”, what comes from Rome these days, on the whole tends to favour facing the people.

“Methinks you need to read His Holiness' writings as Cardinal and - to coin a phrase - take a measure of where he's going with this.”

Youthinks I haven’t already read them? I’m aware of the favourable things that Benedict has said on this subject. But if we look at what Benedict does, both before and after his election he celebrated facing the people, except when the design of the sanctuary made this impossible or impractical. I think an appeal to Rome which ignores this fact runs the risk of being seen as somewhat selective. Why should we follow the pope’s (exceptional) example provided on this occasion, but disregard ihis (normal) example provided on many other occasions?

“As for labelling his celebration ad orientem as "exceptional" - what do you thing he's doing at the Papal altar? The quirk of that space is that he is facing East at the same time as he is facing the people. The old practice was that the congregation would indeed turn around at the Consecration.”

The ad orientem posture, as I think you know, does not necessarily describe the celebrant facing geographically east. It describes the celebrant facing the altar, with his back to the nave. Given the conventional orientation of churches, he will normally be facing geographically east, but the posture is still referred to as ad orientem whether this is so or not. Conversely, where a church is oriented to the west, as St Peter’s is, facing the people is not referred to as ad orientem, even though the celebrant does face geographically East.

Besides, not all of the public papal liturgies are celebrated in St Peter’s. They are celebrated in various churches in Rome. But, with the exception of last week’s liturgy, it is the pope’s consistent practice to face the people and, other than in St Peter’s, he will not normally be facing east in doing so. Is this example to be ignored and, if so, why?

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 5:49:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peregrinus

I think there's a degree of lack of precision and selective quoting in some of the sources you may be refering to.

1. At least twice in the Missale Romanum of 1970, the rubrics - you know, the things the priests generally go out of their way to ignore - specifically direct that the priest turn and "face the people". The only sense that can be given to this is that he was already facing away before being given this instruction. Accordingly, the very missal you describe, not only makes facing the altar a legitimate alternative, it presupposes it. This was recognised very early on and the sources such as Ratzinger are more eloquent and detailed on this than I can be. Some would argue that, consistent with the intention of being able to justify that the official liturgical books did not change existing practice, the rubrics allows that position to be defeneded. So, respectfully I can't agree that "truth is that there is no such requirement".

2. What has happened in Papal Masses over the last 40 since since the Council needs to be read in the context of the overwhelming tradition for facing the altar. One simply can't argue that 40 years of almost universal "tradition" trumps 1700-1900 of almost universal tradition, particularly when there are very good theological and historical reasons for the orietnation toward the altar in the first place. Were did the authority to make facing the people the new alternative come from? It didn't come from the documents of V2 - forget the spirit, I'm talking about what the Council actually decided - nor authoritative documents that issued after; it was an indult granted, and the exemption became the rule to the detriment of many. It was a practice that, for a bunch of reasons, including very dubious ones, took flight. And with it helped to justify the destruction of sanctuaries around the Catholic world that is one of the most shameful incidents our Church has seen, exceeding those of the English Reformation. The so called "practical" considerations you mention were in large part deliberately engineered. Read "The Roman Sanctuary" for example, that documents this.

3. Now, for good or for bad - largely for bad, I would argue - this is the legacy "Rome" has been left with. Mindful of this minefield and the difficult reactios B16 will get and has always got through vested liturgical interests, B16 is very careful not to move too quickly or too radically to change things toward the proper orientation. So, we can't over-exagerate the most recent overwhelming 40 year tradition, and somehow treat it as it is the definitive tradition that trumps the preceeding 1700-1900 years worth (depending on exactly when you want to begin counting)

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 6:11:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

From New Liturgical Movement:


The posture of the priest when he is celebrating ad orientem versus apsidem is a grossly misunderstood idea. To those not famiilar with it -- itself indicative of a bigger, deeper issue -- it can seem surreal, even rude. Why, after all, would the priest ignore the people gathered there?

That question highlights the relevant principle that drives this confusion. The confusion arises out of a misunderstanding that believes that the liturgical mysteries occur in reference to oneself and the community. It is as though the Mass is thought of in the same way one might consider a university lecture hall. After all, would it not seem strange for the lecturing professor to "face the wall" (as the saying is often used with regard Mass ad orientem) rather than to be positioned in such a way as he can address his students? It would indeed.

But the sacred liturgy is not a lecture and the priest is not a professor -- even though there are didactic, or in other words, teaching moments and aspects, within the Mass.

The Mass is not all about us and the function of the priest is not primarily to dialogue with us; his primary function is to act as a priest, to act in the person of Christ offering up to God the one pleasing sacrifice. The priest leads us in worship.

The community does have its place of course, but it is primarily that of a worshipping community. Whereas the idea that the priest is ignoring us reveals the wrong principle reference point, that verb (worshipping) reveals the exact opposite. It speaks to the right principle that we need to bring to the liturgy and is the basis for understanding ad orientem.

It has been interesting to watch some of the reaction to the events of recent in the Sistine Chapel, including the evident struggle some people have to understand why he would do this.

One particularly popular explanation that has arisen is more or less pragmatic and aesthetic: the architecture. It is true the office of papal liturgical ceremonies made reference to this, and indeed, that is an important consideration to account for. That said, if one simply reduces it to that, one misses a more fundamental point. (Perhaps for some, however, that is precisely the point, but that is another sort of problem; a theological problem.)

In that same explanation, there is also found a deeper, more theological, and certainly much more Ratzingerian aspect:

"...in some moments the pope will find himself with his back to the faithful and his eyes on the cross, thus orienting the attitude and disposition of the entire assembly..."

Celebrating thus, the Pope is not simply respecting the architecture of the place, he is doing something more, something related to the fundamental nature of the liturgy itself.

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 6:54:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Just to put this in context, I entirely accept that ad orientem is an acceptable and fitting posture, and I have attended masses celebrated ad orientem, and I didn’t’ have any of the negative perceptions that some say we should have.

I’m wary, though, of those who defend the posture as one of “facing God” (why is God presumed to be in the wall of the apse?) and even more wary of those who defend it as “facing the altar” (the versus populum orientation also faces the altar).

David, quoting Ratzinger, has suggested that the salient feature of the ad orientem posture is that it faces the cross. I confess I am myself unpersuaded by this argument; when the reality of the sacrifice of Christ is being re-presented on the altar, a focus on an image or symbol of that sacrifice seems to be Inappropriate. Is the Reality not enough for us? Be that as it may, a cross can easily be located so that the priest celebrates versus populum, and facing the cross.

You ask why the tradition of the last forty years should trump the tradition of the preceding 1800 years, but surely this is the wrong question. To look for one tradition to “trump” another is to misunderstand the nature of tradition. What we have is a tradition which accommodates both postures, backed by theological and pastoral considerations which can support either. And this is now reflected in a pope who, on different occasions, adopts different postures. That, surely, is the example we ought to be paying attention to.

 
At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 8:04:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’m wary, though, of those who defend the posture as one of “facing God” (why is God presumed to be in the wall of the apse?) and even more wary of those who defend it as “facing the altar” (the versus populum orientation also faces the altar)."

Hello? God is not present in the tabernacle? The posture does not orient ourselves in such a way that our focus is on the "other" (ie God, and not ourselves)??? The logic is starting to fail here.

"when the reality of the sacrifice of Christ is being re-presented on the altar, a focus on an image or symbol of that sacrifice seems to be Inappropriate."

Are you saying that the intense focus on the Real Presence is inappropriate, even if it is to the exclusion of facing the people?
We need to remember that in all the 23-4 rites of the Church only one, the Roman, has adopted facing the people in any significant way (excepting those others who recently decided to follow this fashion). Nor does Isalm, or, to my knowledge, Judaism.

No, it's the right question: where is the weight of tradition?? Your argument is like saying that there were some in the church who did not believe that certain books of the Canon were really part of the Canon, so even though they were, with time and the weight of informed opinion held to be so, we should still say "its open to disagreement."

I think our priests need to be pastoral and reinstate Ad orientem, to remind people that we attend Mass to worship and focus on God. That's pastoral. And our Pope is being a Good Pastor.

 
At Wednesday, January 16, 2008 1:44:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

“Hello? God is not present in the tabernacle? The posture does not orient ourselves in such a way that our focus is on the "other" (ie God, and not ourselves)??? The logic is starting to fail here.”

Indeed it is, but not for the reason that you think. The ad orientem posture has nothing to do with the location of the tabernacle, and this is illustrated by a number of facts.

- The posture was adopted before tabernacles became a standard feature of church furnishing.

- When tabernacles did become widespread, they were not normally centrally located behind the altar. That was a later development again.

- This particular location for the tabernacle has never been universal, or even standard, though it is nowadays the most common. (For the record, from my memory there is no tabernacle behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel, where the pope celebrated ad orientem last week.)

- In the conversation above, you defended the pope’s usual posture in St Peter’s as ad orientem, despite the fact that it leaves him with his back to the tabenacle (which, in St Peter’s, is in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at the western end of the basililca). If you really thought that the importance of the ad orientem posture was that it “faced God” in the tabernacle, should not not have criticised that posture, rather than defending it?

“Are you saying that the intense focus on the Real Presence is inappropriate, even if it is to the exclusion of facing the people?”

Not at all. But you seem to be saying that we focus on the Real Presence in the tabernacle (or indeed in the apse wall, if the tabernacle happens to be located elsewhere). I am saying that the proper focus is the altar. That is why, for example, we incense the altar (and the celebrant, and the gospels) but not the tabernacle. That is why genuflections during mass are made towards the altar, not the tabernacle.

To my mind one of the strongest objections to the ad orientem posture is precisely that it encourages this misconception. The mass is not an extended form of Eucharistic adoration, or an extended benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; it is a sacrifice. The locus of the sacrifice, and proper focus of attention, is the altar. The presence or absence of previously consecrated elements in the tabernacle, and the location of the tabernacle, are wholly irrelevant.

“We need to remember that in all the 23-4 rites of the Church only one, the Roman, has adopted facing the people in any significant way (excepting those others who recently decided to follow this fashion). Nor does Isalm, or, to my knowledge, Judaism”

In all the 23-4 rites of the church only one, the Roman, has adopted the liturgical use of Latin. Nor does Islam or, to my knowledge, Judaism.

I don’t think you want to pursue this line of argument too far. The whole point of having different rites is that they do things differently. It is therefore silly to object to or discount the practice of one rite on the basis that it differs from the practices of others.

“Your argument is like saying that there were some in the church who did not believe that certain books of the Canon were really part of the Canon, so even though they were, with time and the weight of informed opinion held to be so, we should still say "its open to disagreement."”

The analogy is false. Church tradition authoritatively and definitively includes the deuterocanonical books, and excludes the apocryphal books. The same is certainly not true of the versus populum liturgical stance.

“I think our priests need to be pastoral and reinstate Ad orientem, to remind people that we attend Mass to worship and focus on God. That's pastoral. And our Pope is being a Good Pastor.”

I’m not sure that it is pastoral. We do not attend mass to “worship and focus on God”; we can (and should) do that at any time, and in any place. We have no need to attend mass for that purpose, and it would be a serious misunderstanding to think that we do. We attend mass to assist at the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The evidence in this thread is that the ad orientem posture has led you to overlook this, and indeed has led you into a fundamental misconception about the signficance of the Blessed Sacrament in the celebration of the Eucharist; that is not a good thing.

 

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