Sunday, November 25, 2007

And so substantially begins the Re-orientation of the Sacred Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform... [UPDATED]

Some images from today's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Note the presence of two Cardinal deacons -- one of whom was Card. Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. While it can't be seen in these photos, the pope is also wearing a pontifical dalmatic under his chasuble. More significantly, do note the arrangement of the candlesticks and cross on the altar.

A quick comment: it is to be hoped that this altar arrangement, done at such a significant Mass and which speaks to the proper orientation of the sacred liturgy even when the celebrant is facing in the direction of the faithful, will help encourage parish priests the world over to adopt similar arrangements upon their own altars. As the Holy Father said as a Cardinal, this can be an effective way to begin re-orienting the liturgy, particularly when priests do not feel it yet pastorally suitable to take up the traditional ad orientem posture -- i.e. with he and the faithful sharing a common physical direction on the same side of the altar.

I've noted this before, but the substance of this arrangement, just as at the previous Mass which employed this setup, is as such that, while the cross and candles are not a gilt reredos, they are yet substantial enough to make their presence clearly known and visible upon the altar to both priest and faithful alike.

From The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger:

"Facing toward the East, as we heard, was linked with the "sign of the Son of Man", with the Cross, which announces Our Lord's Second Coming. That is why, very early on, the East was linked with the sign of the cross. 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.

"In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: Conversi ad Dominum, "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One whose Death tore the veil of the Temple -- the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living Temple.

"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 Our Lord?

"This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of reference. He is the rising sun of history."

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