Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Ordination and Orientation

A French reader of NLM sent me these photos of a recent priestly ordination in the French diocese of Bayonne. The bishop, Msgr. Marc Aillet, is author of The Old Mass and the New (Ignatius Press, 2010), which provides a strong defense of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Unlike most of the French hierarchy, Bishop Aillet supports, in both word and deed, the "new Liturgical Movement" or "reform of the reform" as called for and articulated by Pope Benedict XVI.

On a tangential note, while concelebrating the ordination Mass held in my own diocese last Saturday, the thought occurred to me during the Litany of Supplication: If the bishop can turn around to face the apse as we invoke the aid of God and the saints, then why not during the other parts of the Mass when God is directly addressed? I wondered if the incongruity of turning ad orientem for the litany but not for the Liturgy of the Eucharist was noted by anyone else present. (Funny how no one complained that the bishop and his assistants "turned their backs" on the people during the litany.) The so-called Benedictine altar arrangement (which is not employed in my cathedral) is a half measure which I find unsatisfactory where the original "high" altar (with its mensa) is intact. It does, however, have the advantage of focusing the attention of both priest and people on the altar of sacrifice, and in so doing helps instill a sensibility more receptive to a literal re-orientating of the liturgy — and not only during litanies. As Fr. Z. would say, "brick by brick."

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