Sunday, January 13, 2008
Benedict continues the "Reform of the Reform."
This morning the Holy Father baptized a number of babies in the magnificent setting of the Sistine Chapel. Much attention has been devoted to the fact that they didn't bring out the portable wooden altar, but actually used the altar that has been there for hundreds of years. That meant, of course, that he celebrated Mass 'ad Orientem,' which is why, I suppose, the web is full of comment. Before anyone gets too hot under the collar about "going back in time, forgetting Vatican II...etc, etc," - the celebration of Mass facing the East is a perfectly valid option in the reformed Missal of Paul VI - otherwise the rubrics would not direct the priest, at several points in the Mass to "turn and face the people." The importance, of course, is that the Pope is leading by example - not legislating, not demanding - but saying - "this is part of the heritage of the Church - you are free to follow." The deeper meaning is the underlying theme of this pontificate, from one of the architects of Vatican II, Joseph Ratzinger - the hermeneutic of continuity, not rupture. The interesting fact is that the new 'conservatives' are the former liberals - they are doing everything they used to accuse the old 'conservatives' of doing: refusing to change, being rigid, appealing to the "past" (even if the past is only the last 40 years). I suppose it shows that the use of these political labels is pointless. The important thing, in this time of confusion, is the ancient motto of the Church: "ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia." I know when the chips are down, as we say in the Mother country - I will look to Rome and Peter - because only Peter received the unfailing promise of Christ - Peter is the Rock!