Friday, November 30, 2007

Liturgical East


"Where a direct common turning toward the East is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior 'east' of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community....Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than the Lord? This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible."

Cardinal Ratzinger - better known as Pope Benedict XVI.

15 comments:

Ave Maria said...

I pray that eventually a true liturgical East can be established in the parish as well. education, education...

Liz said...

Most of the parishes around here seem to have the crucifix on the wall behind the altar so it doesn't have to be moved. Now the celebrant facing liturgical east... Well that's an idea whose time doesn't seem to have arrived yet.

I went to a different parish today because I had to take my 6 year old grandniece to her second session at Sunday School (poor child is still unbaptized but her Protestant grandma and I are trying to get things on track). I noticed that in this parish they still don't kneel for the Ecce Agnus Dei. This is the second parish in Rutland County where I've observed that. I guess some people don't read the Bishop's instructions... It seems to go along with folk groups and noisy churches before Mass... It's hard to instill a quiet reverence in a totally uncatechized child when the grownups are all being noisy. There are lots of good things going on in this parish, but it seems firmly locked in the 1970's. I'm praying that positive changes will come here as well.

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

Looking forward to it! The Pope's words should suffice - but, the point is that unless the priest is celebrating Mass 'ad orientem' when he AND the people would face the Cross together ....the Cross on the Altar is the focus for the priest during Mass , not the people - it does not obscure the vision, but it does take away the concentration on the person of the priest. Of course, it could all be solved by celebrating Mass 'ad orientem' - which is, of course, one of the two options in the Missal for celebrating, just not used very often. Check out the picture of Mass in St. Peter's last week - that's a pretty big Cross and candles!! Get some good beer in - I may be over soon!

the owl of the remove said...

p.s. - check out the blog 'New Liturgical Movement' - interesting pictures/point re: our gentle debate!

tibotmorfenoo said...
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Fr John Boyle said...

As a fellow priest who also has a liturgical east set up on his altar. Yes, I have two crucifixes: the processional one which is at the side of the altar and which gets incensed, and one on the altar to focus me on the Cross. I know this is not in keeping with IGMR, but then IGMR latest version is full of signs of tension between various trends in the Church.

For example, why - when for centuries it was okay - is the priest not permitted to genuflect to the tabernacle during the Mass whenever he passes? Why, if it was okay for centuries, is it now not okay? I'm afraid I disobey and genuflect. I just can't walk by and bow to the altar - a sign of Christ - with my back to the tabernacle - Christ Himself.

The point is that the Paul VI Missal does not respond to the break with tradition that facing the people constituted. If we truly faced East together (or all faced the same way) there would not be a problem: there'd just be one Crucifix. By breaking with tradition, the Paul VI Missal has not proved durable. It's just a matter of time - who knows how long - before it is revised again. (Of course, the Paul VI Missal allows eastward facing liturgy, but breaks with tradition by allowing people-facing liturgy, and the IGMR even says that people-facing liturgy is to be the norm.)

tibotmorfenoo said...
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Fr John Boyle said...

Well well, small world. It was a lovely baptism and I was impressed by the expression of faith both in the family and in the parish community. I love baptisms during Mass!

As regards the analogies: it's all very well looking for analogies, but we have realities. In the Tabernacle is not just a sign and sacrament but a reality: Christ himself. In the priest is a sign and sacrament, of Christ. Likewise, to a lesser extent, the altar. The signs and symbols are supposed to lead us to the reality. I think the Tabernacle should have pride of place at all times. It is the Holy of Holies wherein the Word (not just word) dwells bodily.

As regards Tradition, tradition is something living, so to go back to the earlier forms of primitive liturgy is not necessarily progress. That is the archeologism that recent scholarship on the tradition bemoans. See for example Alcuin Reid's book "The Organic Development of the Liturgy" and U.M. Lang's "Turning Towards the Lord."

I personally feel that the 'new rite' will be reformed to bring it back towards some of what was lost with the ditching of the old. And the old will benefit as some of the ancient parts (e.g. prayers of the faithful) will be restored to it. I think it could be very beautiful.

We have a lot to learn from the Eastern Churches.

Is your undercroft virtual? :-)

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

This is a false dichotomy dividing the Tabernacle from the Altar, which is why Sacramentum Caritatis clearly envisages the prominent position of the Tabernacle. Also Klauser is intriguing - what does he mean by "traditional?" Clearly tradition is not at least 1000 years of Church practice - does he mean what happened in 400AD? If so, why not go back further - as you said in one of your more sarcastic moments - why don't we all lie on couches, as Jesus did at the Last Supper? As Fr. John pointed out - this is not the "hermeneutic of continuity" that Pope Benedict has said is the authentic interpretation of the Council - rather it is archeologism. It would be interesting to develop this in other fronts - should we speak Greek? Should women be seated only one one side of the Church (as they are in many Eastern Rites, preserving "traditional" practice)? What is fascinating in our little (now Transatlantic) debate is how we can all (my self included) get bogged down without the authentic guidance of the Church - there is no other guide - otherwise we will, literally, be in a state of chaos - something Benedict (XVI, not me!) has addressed. I think I will stick to the beer or wine -(re:cheapness of wine - anything less than $5.00 a bottle tends to stain wood) - too much Whiskey gives me a headache - rather like liturgy!

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