Cardinal Sarah asks priests to start celebrating Mass facing east this Advent

The Vatican’s liturgy chief said priests should view the proposed change as ‘something good for the Church, something good for our people’

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgy chief, has asked priests to begin celebrating Mass ad orientem, that is, facing east rather than towards the congregation.

The proposed reform is arguably the biggest liturgical announcement since Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gave greater freedom for priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/05/cardinal-sarah-asks-priests-to-start-celebrating-mass-facing-east-this-advent/

It is an excellent request, but this should be put in a Protocol and disseminated throughout the world’s dioceses with the force of law, by authority of the Holy See.

Otherwise, it remains a request, an exhortation, and posture would therefore remain under the authority of the diocesan bishop. And you know very well how that will turn out: it will remain a dead ideal.

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Sorry, that was my excitement. :thumbsup:

I hope this is true so that my excitement may last.

A step in the right direction. (MHO)

This would make me so happy if anyone would follow his advice.

I wonder if it’s a suggestion or an order?

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

It’s a suggestion until it actually hits an official document.

I want this so bad, but I’m also a realist. I know how priests and bishops think on matters like these.

Generally speaking, anyway.

This is not going to work everywhere. There are many monasteries for instance, where the layout will not allow this to happen especially with a concelebrated Mass. Moreover in monasteries, facing the community, not necessarily East, is a long-standing tradition.

Fortunately it is just a proposal, and he was wise enough to add the words “wherever possible”.

I agree! I once sent a letter to my Bishop requesting more Tridentine Masses. I got a big fat no. Once of the reasons was because priests don’t want to celebrate the Latin Mass. Quite the shame:(

Exactly. The Catholic Church is not a *one size fits all *institution.

I feel as if the theme music from “Twilight Zone” should be playing in the background here. The orientation of the celebrant facing the people is - rightly or wrongly - widely regarded (and welcomed by the majority) as a key fruit of Vatican II. After 40-50 years of church renovation / “wreckovation” (choose which suits you) which involved removal of altar rails and relocation of the altar, for the cardinal to, in effect, snap his fingers and suggest / direct / promote ad orientem and Communion while kneeling – and with a specific date no less – it just seems that someone has very much gotten ahead of things. I wonder what authority is implied in such a public statement, lacking a written directive from the Congregation, absent something from the Holy Father. I think “wherever possible” is going to receive a very broad interpretation. It’s almost impossible to believe this is happening during the papacy of Pope Francis. I’d bet a lot on the idea that some kind of a clarification will be forthcoming, and that this statement is going to some extent be “walked back.” I don’t think one cardinal, regardless of his position, gets to reverse what has been regarded by two generations of Catholics as normative, with all the catechesis that has accompanied it. Compared to the Third Roman Missal, which was YEARS in the making, this is a far more dramatic move coming all of a sudden. Do not understand.

As a convert I much prefer the new order to the old, but I would like the the priest along with the congregation to face the same direction.

Fruit of Vatican II? Yup. A rotten one. Versus populum appears nowhere in SC or the rubrics. In fact, the rubrics seem to indicate the priest facing the people a few brief times during the Mass.

Cardinal Sarah said that much liturgical study had suggested that some post-conciliar reforms “may have been put together according to the spirit of the times” and “gone beyond” of the Fathers of Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the constitution on the liturgy.

He said that some “very serious misinterpretations of the liturgy” had crept in, thanks to an attitude to the liturgy which placed man rather than God at the centre.

“The liturgy is not about you and I,” Cardinal Sarah told the conference. “It is not where we celebrate our own identity or achievements or exalt or promote our own culture and local religious customs. The liturgy is first and foremost about God and what He has done for us.”

The Cardinal quoted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.”

Cardinal Sarah emphasised a “hermeneutic of continuity”, saying that it was necessary to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium fully: “The Fathers did not intend a revolution, but an evolution.”

And why is it so hard to believe this is coming during Francis’ reign? He’s the one who appointed the Cardinal. Is it because Francis is all about making people feel good, and only mean priests turn their back on their flock during Mass?

This is an excellent development, and like others have already posted I hope it gets formalized sooner rather than later.

The article is farlry extensive and notes some of the thinking which is guiding this reclaimation, as well as pointing to genuflection and kneeling as additional areas where reclamation is also encouraged. From the article:

“The liturgy is not about you and I,” Cardinal Sarah told the conference. “It is not where we celebrate our own identity or achievements or exalt or promote our own culture and local religious customs. The liturgy is first and foremost about God and what He has done for us.”

The Cardinal quoted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.”

Cardinal Sarah emphasised a “hermeneutic of continuity”, saying that it was necessary to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium fully: “The Fathers did not intend a revolution, but an evolution.”

He made some specific observations, praising the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham as an example of how the Church could be enriched by other traditions.

In remarks which he did not have time to deliver, but which were later published on Sacra Liturgia’s Facebook page, the cardinal also encouraged kneeling at the consecration and for the reception of Communion. “Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.”
catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/05/cardinal-sarah-asks-priests-to-start-celebrating-mass-facing-east-this-advent/

In my parish the priest already faces east… and versus populum at the same time. Okay, I know Cardinal Sarah is talking about liturgical east.

I think most people would riot because they do not understand why ad orientem was used. It’s an unfortunate lack of understanding of liturgical posture and one of the many symbolic pieces of the liturgy that were lost when the Mass was simplified. I think most people would see it as a return to the “bad old days” even if nothing else in the liturgy changed.

Yes I think this is just the beginning of correcting the errors of the liberals of the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II crowd.

The Cardinal did say that catechesis would need to accompany the change. That could clear up the lack of understanding.

Unfortunately, many churches that were built/renovated after Vatican II were constructed so that celebrating the mass ad orientum would be quite difficult, if not impossible.

This is wrong. First of all VP has been around for a lot longer than the changes of Vatican II.

Secondly, the rubrics do mention it.

From the General Instructions of the Roman Missal:

  1. The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns.[116] The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.

Moreover SC did not set forth all the changes that were to occur. These were duly entrusted to a commission that debated and recommended the changes, which were duly incorporated into the missal. Note that the translation to English is off somewhat, what is desirable is that the altar be built away from the wall, not necessarily that the Mass should be celebrated always facing the people. However it is clear from this instruction that facing the people is entirely licit according to the Missal.

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