Cardinal Pell: New Mass Translation next year! Priest facing East?

Cardinal Pell says the new Mass translation should be in use end of next year. :smiley: He also talks about South Africa already using it (though not legally) and the Priest facing East!!! Parts of an inteview are below but for the whole thing where he talks about Pope Pius XII and SSPX etc the link is provided.

**Where do you think the liturgical development is heading? **

I don’t know. I’m not a professional liturgist. I am keen that we strengthen the vertical dimension of the liturgy, if we can, in the popular understanding, so that it’s very obviously not just community-centred, it’s God-centred, it’s an act of worship. I’m very sympathetic to that. I’m even sympathetic for the Canon of the Mass that the priest has his back to the people.

**As something obligatory? **

Yes. Now there’s nothing like a consensus in favour of that at the moment. I think I would be in favour of it because it makes it patently clear that the priest is not the centre of the show, that this an act of worship of the one true God, and the people are joining with the priest for that.

Another way of acknowledging that: I’m very much in favour of having a crucifix in front of the celebrant during the Mass when we’re facing the people.

**Between the priest and the people, in front of the altar? **

Yes, sometimes it might be flat, sometimes it might be vertical. But that distracts attention away to some little extent from the main celebrant. I think also I find the figure of Christ is a great aid to recollection and prayer while you’re saying the Eucharistic Prayer.

**As president of the Vox Clara Committee you have been advising the Congregation for Divine Worship on the new English translation of the Mass. Do you hope that the new translation will help to emphasise that vertical dimension of the Mass? **

Yes, very much so. I’ll be surprised if there’s more than a few hiccups when it comes it. I think it will go well. I think people will recognise that it’s beautiful and appropriate. We’ve tried to keep changes to the community responses, the people’s parts, to a minimum. The translations are accurate, forceful and some of them in particular are very beautiful.

**In South Africa they jumped the gun a little and introduced the changes ahead of time. There was quite a controversy over them. Do you think that might be replicated around the world? **

Well, very, very possibly. But, look, the number of people who speak English in South Africa is very small. So is the number of parishes where English is used all the time. And of course the smaller the pond the easier it is to create a few waves. They weren’t authorised to go early. So let us see.

**It looks like it has the potential to be controversial. Some people may say: “This translation is being thrust upon us by Rome.” **

Nothing’s being thrust upon anyone. This matter has gone out repeatedly to the national hierarchies. It’s approved by the national hierarchies. The level of change now will be very small in comparison with the enormous changes that were foisted upon the people just after the Second Vatican Council. Undoubtedly there will be a small element which will try to resist them. I’m quite confident the overwhelming majority of Mass-going people will quickly learn to love them. The quality of the language there will emphasise that we’re not talking to the bloke next door. We’re worshipping the one true God. Not in old-fashioned, archaic language, but in beautiful, strong and appropriate language. I’m quite confident it will be successful.

**Where are we up to in the whole process? **

I think towards the end of next year… For about five years I’ve been saying we’ve got two years to go. And now that’s becoming more and more likely. So people will be aiming towards the end of next year for it to happen.

**Will the whole English-speaking world be going together with the same translation? **

Yes, I think so. There might be little quirks here and there. But that’s certainly the ambition.

**How pleased will you be when that happens? **

Our committee isn’t doing the work. That’s being done by ICEL. The credit must go to ICEL for that work. But we’ve made a bit of a contribution and I’ll be delighted when it comes home - and come home it will.

**You hosted World Youth Day in Sydney last July. By all accounts it was a tremendous success. It has been described as the largest gathering in Australia’s history. **

That’s accurate, I think, at the final Mass there were 400,000 people.

This is VERY exciting. I’m looking forward to the new translation. Maybe our priests will take fewer liberties with the text than they do today. And I would love to see the priest facing east, leading the people in worship of the One True God.

I’m a convert from after Vatican II. Can someone explain the ‘priest facing east’ to me? Is it supposed to be facing Jerusalem, or is it facing east from wherever you are in the world, like facing the rising sun? :confused:

Linda Marie: Historically churches were oriented so that the altar was at the east end of the church. Since the altar was against the wall and the priest faced it along with the people, the term “facing east” or ad Orientem today simply refers to the priest and people facing the same direction during certain parts of the Mass, rather than his facing the people. The physical orientation of the altar with regard to geographic east is no longer required; if I remember correctly, the altar of Sydney’s cathedral is at the north end. In the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine) Mass, the priest and people face the altar during much of the liturgy, and the rubrics of the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) Mass of today permit the priest to face the altar rather than have his back to the tabernacle.

I like to think of it this way. In high school, I was part of a marching band which was led by a drum major. She necessarily faced forward in order to guide the band in the direction she wanted it to go, using a long baton to direct the music over her shoulder. If she had turned to walk backward (versus populum), she might have led us onto the sidewalk or fallen into an open manhole. After all, the purpose of our band wasn’t to showcase the drum major’s fine directing skills; it was about the music we made together and operating as one.

Cavaille-Coll gave a wonderful response (imho) to this question.

I just wanted to add that while there were many theological reasons and benefits for the “ad orientem” practice, it was never uniformly observed in the early Church.

Don’t get me wrong…personally I think it’s a wonderful tradition. It is just that there was never a universal consensus on this practice in the early church.

Some see this as facing east to point toward Jerusalem, the Holy Land, as it’s the geographic and historic focus for Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Some see this as facing east (regardless of where Jerusalem is relative to you) because Jesus Christ is the “rising Sun” (Son) and savior and just as the sun rises in the east so Jesus rises.

There is no binding teaching or practice today in the Church to dictate the orientation (i.e. geographically east or west) of the priest and people during liturgical worship.

Hope this helps

Thank you for your kind explanations. I knew of the priest facing the altar pre-Vatican II, I just didn’t know that this was called ‘facing east’.

Surprisingly, I got some experience with that. A year after my baptism in the States, we moved to rural Scotland. The altar in our chapel was listed. It was not possible to pull it away from the wall and serve from the other side without altering it, which was not allowed. We still had the altar rails and the altar boy used the paten. Most knelt to receive communion on the tongue. I had never seen this before and hadn’t a clue what to do but it didn’t take long to pick up.

Just a little trivia here:

The word itself “orientation” refers literally to the direction East.

Our church has an odd set up where there are people in front of the priest and behind the priest at all times. So if the Priest faces East, he is still facing toward half of the parishioners.

The word itself “orientation” refers literally to the direction East.

Quite so!

The direction of the rising sun is the direction Christ is expected to come from on the Last Day.

Cemeteries were typically laid out, when possible, so that the rising enlivened corpses would be facing east.

All churches and Abbeys were built, whenever possible, so that the apse and altar were at the east end, the main entryway was the west end. (This is still taken very seriously in the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox churches. It is still the preferred layout.)

Thus, everyone was praying together in the direction of the coming Christ.

In Byzantine churches the altar servers and deacons will bow to the east (essentially to beyond the east wall) at various times during liturgy (as when returning to the altar space from outside in the Nave), even with the altar behind them and the tabernacle upon it. They are bowing to Almighty God.

For some reason around my city, there is a preponderance of churches constructed on a north-south axis. It would be nice if they had been constructed with the altar to the true east.

Isn’t that also true of Saint Peter’s Basilica on Vatican hill in Rome?

Our church is situated like that as well, and has been since the 1950’s so it is not a new construction.

Actually, if you take a good look at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, that is also how it is set up. There are, in fact, seats behind the Altar of the Confession, so, in a sense, you could say that St. Peter’s is in the round.

If you see any of the Holy Week liturgies from St. Peter’s, just check out the seating arrangments. You will see folks located just behind the Altar of the Confession.

My parochial vicar, ever since he read Spirit of the Liturgy (which I lent him and wound up giving to him) and Turning Towrards the Lord (with the foreword by the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger), by Msgr. Uwe Lang (who is now a member of the Pope’s own liturgical office), has been celebrating the Mass ad orientum at the local hospital chapel and, on occasion, at our parish.

If you carefully red the rubrics, it assumed that the priest would be celebrating ad orientum. There are a couple of occasions where it notes “facinig the people” and where it also notes “showing the people”. If ad orientum was not assumed, why would these references have been made?

The new translations cannot come soon enough for me. Now, I wish that we could redo the Lectionary. It needs help.

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