Those of you who have a mind for liturgical matters would be interested to know that this morning the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel ad orientem. In the past a portable table would be set up for Masses in the chapel, but Pope Benedict has decided that there is no reason to do so when the chapel already has a perfectly suitable Altar beneath Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgement.
Some things to notice- the Altar has the seventh candle in it’s place behind the Crucifix and a throne is in use again.
Now if we want to be picky, then I would have to admit that the Crucifix looks rather large and out of place (a smaller one that goes with the candlesticks would have been preferable), and the laity should not be seated in the choir- they should be behind the transenna looking through. Also, I dont care for the vestments.
Apparently the movements of the servers were not as well choreographed as they could have been, though I expect they are not used to this. Things tend to flow more smoothly in the Traditional Rite then in the Novus Ordo.
But in any case this is a major stepforward from the liturgical modernism of the last 40 years. His Holiness has written before on the importance of ad orientem worship, especially in the Mass, and he is backing up his words with action in a public Mass (it is already known that he celebrates his daily private Mass ad orientem).
There is no reason why the average parish priest cannot scrap the Cranmer-table and move back to the old High Altar so that the focus of the liturgy can shift back towards the Sacrifice of the Cross. His Holiness is leading the way here.