Three Hard Facts about the Liturgy

Three Hard Facts about the Liturgy

Can someone explain the theological reasoning behind ad orientem? I’m not looking for “it’s better” or “more reverent” or “traditional”, but the theological reason.

He discredits himself by his accusations in respect to the Byzantine Liturgies.

The people sing nearly constantly, and there is a frequent dialog between deacon and priest, and also between deacon and people; the deacon is the interface. I’ve never been to an Orthodox nor Byzantine Catholic Liturgy where the people were not actively participating by singing.

Further, unlike the Roman EF/TLM, the people do not sing the same prayers as the priest; their sung prayers are complimentary to, most of the time, the priests’ specific prayers at the same time.

It is simply that in a TLM, the priest faces Liturgical East…Ad Orientem and leads the Church in the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass in Persona Christi… [edited]

The theological reasoning is that it is the priest leading the people towards God. East represeting the new light of the Ressurection.

The Mass is not a closed circle, but a Journey the points us (all of us, including the priest) towards Heaven.

Pope Benedict explains it well in his book,“The Spirit of the Liturgy”.

You are wrong and making up your own interpretation in the case the OF. Ad orientem is part of the OF and saying that the priest is just one of the parishioners “presiding” over a meal is an implication that he is not in Persona Christi and that is heretical thinking.

Here are some exerpts from the book:

Consider, for example, what Louis Bouyer has to say on the subject:

The idea that celebration versus populum was the original form, indeed the way the Last Supper itself was celebrated, rests purely and simply on a mistaken idea of what a banquet, Christian or even non-Christian, was like in antiquity. In the earliest days of Christianity the head of table never took his place facing the other participants. Everyone sat or lay on the convex side of an S-shaped or horseshoe-shaped table. Nowhere in Christian antiquity could anyone have come up with the idea that the man presiding at the meal had to take his place versus populum. The communal character of a meal was emphasized by precisely the opposite arrangement, namely, by the fact that everyone at the meal found himself on the same side of the table (54f).

In any case, there is a further point that we must add to this discussion of the ‘shape’ of meals: the Eucharist that Christians celebrate really cannot adequately be described by the term ‘meal’. True, Our Lord established the new reality of Christian worship within the framework of a Jewish (Passover) meal, but it was precisely this new reality, not the meal as such, which He commanded us to repeat. Very soon the new reality was separated from its ancient context and found its proper and suitable form, a form already predetermined by the fact that the Eucharist refers back to the Cross and thus to the transformation of Temple sacrifice into the reasonable worship of God.

…a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer…

…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.

I hope this hellps.

His point that an ad populum orientation diminishes the emphasis of the priest’s intercession, sacrificial offering, and acting in persona Christi is correct. In fact, that is the reason that all the Reformers changed the orientation of the priest.

Hmm, do you think that he is universally wrong, or that it could be what he has seen in some places? Or is thinking about passive and active in different terms than you are?

The point he seemed to be making was that the idea that the congregation had to be “actively” involved wasn’t as universal as people think. Do you think he is wrong about that, even if his specific example is incorrect?

The article the OP linked to states:

  1. By 1962, the liturgy had already changed quite a bit. For those who have studied the question, Vatican II was not the “revolution” in the liturgy that many traditionalists make it out to be, but the culmination of a process of liturgical and devotional change starting at the end of the French Revolution. While most people who call themselves traditionalists bury their noses in a hand missal to follow along with the priest’s prayers at an old Latin Mass, they fail to realize that such missals were nearly banned a little more than a hundred years ago. The argument went that a layperson had no business having in his hands the same prayers that the priest was saying. It was only with the publication of such works as Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Year in the late 1800s that the idea of following the prayers of the liturgy became popular.

In fact, it was St. Pius X who really got the ball rolling in terms of changing the liturgy. The old breviary that some have fond memories of Monsignor So-and-So speeding through before the Second Vatican Council was entirely the invention of Pius’s papal court. In that reform, the order of the Psalms was entirely reworked and many of the rubrics for saying the office changed. Of course, no one noticed or particularly cared. Such a “restoration” was also accomplished by the “traditionalist” Pope Pope Pius XII in the reform of Holy Week. The ceremonies to celebrate the Holy Triduum that most traditionalists will fight to the death over are not even 20 years older than the ceremonies celebrated in an average Catholic parish.

Even the Gregorian chant in which many hear the voice of the apostolic church is in some ways a scholarly recreation of the monks of Solesmes, and they were not without controversy when “restored” in the early 20th century. Before, even in the papal court of Leo XIII, one was far more likely during services to have heard some piece of Italian bel canto lovingly belted by a castrato. It is at least arguable that a Mozart Mass is far more traditional than a Mass taken out of the official Gregorian chant book, the Liber Usualis.

There is a lot of truth to this. Last year for the Gregorian Institute of Canada’s annual colloquium I gave a presentation on the new Liturgy of the Hours. In the course of writing the article I picked up the book “From Breviary to Liturgy of the Hours” by Stanislaus Campbell.

Among Piux X’s most notable reforms was the dropping of the Laudate psalms from Lauds (Ps. 148, 149 and 150) after the canticle and the division of psalms into more or less equal sections.

Moreover the notorious Annibale Bugnini, accused of various things including the messing up of the Liturgy of the hours, actually was assigned to the task of reforming the breviary some 20 or so years prior to Vatican II; early results were modest (in the 50s), mainly changes to the rubrics, the chanting of the entire antiphon before the psalm (previously only the title part was chanted before the psalm and the entire antiphon chanted after the psalm) and other minor adjustments.

So it is wrong to say that the liturgy underwent a wholesale slaughter that began after Vatican II. It started well before, but of course did accelerate afterwards.

As for the Solesmes restoration of Gregorian Chant, they’re still controversial especially after the release of the first 3 volumes of the monastic antiphonary starting in 2005 that introduced many controversial changes to the already controversial interpretations.

But in spite of the controversy they are still sort of the “gold standard” for Chant.

After my research I found it a lot easier to accept the Liturgy of the Hours in its current form. When you dig into it a bit you see that in fact a lot of effort was made to preserve certain traditions.

Perhaps the most commonly misunderstood element of liturgical worship in the Ordinary Form of Roman Rite – second only to the use of Latin – is the direction which the priest faces during the Mass. If you are familiar with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, you are well aware that for the majority of the Mass, the priest is not facing towards the people, but away from them. This orientation has been described in numerous ways, some of which are inaccurate and misleading: some say the priest has his back to the people (or worse, has turned his back on the people) or that he is facing the wall, others that he is facing the altar or the tabernacle.

First, if the priest “has his back to the people,” then the same must be said of all the people in the church (except those sitting in the back), but I know of no one who takes offense at the fact that the people sitting in front of him aren’t looking at him! Just because the priest is not facing the people does not mean he is being rude or is ignoring them. Those who see the gesture as the priest “turning his back on the people” are simply deriving the wrong symbolism, one of moral injustice, from this posture. Second, if the priest is “facing the wall,” then the same should be said of the whole congregation. Yes, the congregation is also facing the priest and the altar, but they’re facing the wall beyond the priest and altar as well. Third, many modern churches are built such that when the priest is “facing the altar” he is also facing the people, so this description is not very specific. Fourth, the tabernacle is not necessarily on or behind the altar, so the priest is not necessarily facing it; and once more, the tabernacle should not be the focus of the priest’s attention at Mass. (cf. Ratzinger, Feast of Faith, p. 139)

All these descriptions focus on the wrong center of attention. What is the proper center of attention during the Mass? The Mass is a prayer to God; the “direction of the Eucharist [is] from Christ in the Holy Spirit to the Father.” (Feast of Faith, p. 140; cf. Catechism 1073) This means that liturgy should be directed spiritually ad Deum, that is, “towards God.” Ancient Christian tradition has manifested this spiritual orientation[/FONT] by facing ad orientem, to the east (whereas Jewish worship faces Jerusalem).

Why the east? As they say in real estate: location, location, location! The east is the direction of the rising sun, which is a biblical (not pagan) symbol of Christ; thus, the east is associated with His Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming.

    [[/FONT]]("") This section is greatly inspired by two essays by Cardinal Ratzinger:  “Eastward- or Westward-Facing Position?  A Correction” (in *Feast of Faith*, pp. 139-145) and “The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer” (in *The Spirit of the Liturgy*, pp. 74-84).

[[/FONT]]("") The word “orientation” comes from the Latin *oriens*, meaning “the east; sunrise,” which in turn comes from the verb *orior*, meaning “to rise.”

The Incarnation
God is often identified with light in both the Old and New Testaments: the psalmist calls God “a sun and shield” (Ps. 84:11) and St. John says that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) So too Christ is likened to light and the sun, especially in His Incarnation, the first coming.

St. Jerome, in his commentary on the book of the prophet Ezekiel, saw the east gate of the Temple in Ezekiel’s vision as a sign of the Virgin Mary’s womb. Ezekiel saw that “the glory of the God of Israel came from the east” (Ezek. 43:2) and that “no one shall enter by it” except the Lord. (Ezek. 44:2)[/FONT] This Scripture was interpreted as a prophecy of the Incarnation, so its association with the east is particularly important.

The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when a child would be born who be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) and who would sit on the throne of David and have a never-ending kingdom. Of that day Isaiah said “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isa. 9:2) St. Matthew tells us that this was fulfilled by Jesus’ preaching throughout the regions of Zebulun and Napthali. (cf. Matt. 4:12-16; Isa. 9:1)

The prophet Malachi foretold that the “sun of righteousness” would rise. (Mal. 4:2) The Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” [/FONT] also invokes Christ as the Oriens, the “Day-Spring” or dawn. The Canticle of Zechariah (the Benedictus, Luke 1:68-79), which the father of St. John the Baptist proclaimed upon the birth of his son, ends by describing God’s mercy being manifested as “the dawn oriens] from on high” which would “shine on those who dwell in darkness,” alluding to the Incarnation.

Finally, St. John the Evangelist refers to Jesus as the “light” in the prologue of his gospel (cf. John 1:4-9), and Jesus spoke of Himself in the same way. (cf. John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46)

The Resurrection
Christ’s crucifixion can be associated with the setting of the sun: the sun was darkened (cf. Luke 23:45), Golgotha is on the west side of Jerusalem, and Jesus was buried in the evening. (cf. Matt. 27:57)

But the Church finds in the rising sun (the oriens, the east) a natural symbol of the Resurrection. (cf. Feast of Faith, p. 140) Jesus rose from the dead at or just before sunrise. (cf. Luke 24:1; John 20:1) His Apostles captured a glimpse of His resurrected glory at His transfiguration when “his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” (Matt. 17:2) St. Paul quotes an early Christian baptismal hymn in his letter to the Ephesians: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” (Eph. 5:14)

The Ascension
St. Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives (cf. Acts 1:9-12), which was located to the east of Jerusalem. The Roman liturgy associates Psalm 67:33-34 with the Solemnity of the Ascension; the Latin Vulgate reads “*psallite Deo qui ascendit super caelum caeli *ad orientem,” which the Douay-Rheims Bible renders as “Sing ye to God Who mounteth above the heaven of heavens, to the east.”

The Second Coming
The Church saw the oriens not only as a symbol of the Resurrection, but also of “a presentation of the hope of the parousia,” the second coming of Christ. Indeed, “every Mass is an approach to the return of Christ.” (Feast of Faith, pp. 140-141)

The angels at the Ascension told the Apostles that “Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) Jesus Himself prophesied His return from the east: “as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man.” (Matt. 24:27) When Jesus returns, His appearance will probably be like that seen by St. John as recorded in the book of Revelation: “his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Rev. 1:16) In the heavenly Temple, Jesus is the lamp. (cf. Rev. 21:23; 22:5)

[[/FONT]]("") That this gate “shall remain shut” was  seen by many early Church writers (e.g. Tertullian, Methodius, Ambrose,  Augustine, Jerome, John of Damascus) as a prophecy of Mary’s perpetual  virginity, that she bore no other children besides Jesus.

[[/FONT]]("") This hymn comes from a series of prayers  said during the Liturgy of the Hours on the days concluding Advent, the  season in which the Church celebrates the first coming of Christ and  anticipates His *second* coming.

What was controversial about them?

The East and the Cross
St. John also saw “another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God.” (Rev. 7:2) The seal of God is believed to be the sign of the Son of Man, which is the cross. (cf. Ezek. 9:4; Rev. 7:2-3)[/FONT]

The early Christians marked the eastern wall of their meeting-houses with a cross first as a sign of hope for Christ’s return and only later as a reminder of His Passion. (cf. Feast of Faith, p. 141) This tradition was the origin of the rubric, still present in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, which required there to be a crucifix on the altar, so that Mass would be celebrated not only facing east, but also facing the cross. In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, a crucifix is still required, but it can be near the altar if not on it. (cf. GIRM 117)

The east, the oriens, signifies the whole Christian concept of time: the Lord is “the rising sun of history.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 84) So while it is not proper to say that the Eucharist is celebrated facing the tabernacle or even facing the altar, it can be said that the Eucharist is celebrated “facing the image of the cross, which embodied in itself the whole theology the oriens.” (Feast of Faith, p. 141)

Liturgical Significance
So what value is there in celebrating the Eucharist facing the east?

First, we can express our spiritual worship through our bodies. When the priest says “Lift up your hearts” before the Eucharistic Prayer, and the congregation responds “We lift them up to the Lord,” there is an internal orientation towards the Lord being spoken of. This internal reality should also be expressed by external signs if possible. Celebrating the Eucharist facing the east is an external manifestation of being directed to the Lord, of our hope for His return, for the new dawn and the endless day of Heaven.

Second, this posture should not be misconstrued as the priest having his back to the people, but as the priest and the people facing the same direction together. At the end of his sermons, St. Augustine would often say “conversi ad Dominum” (“let us turn toward the Lord”), which had both a spiritual (conversion) and a literal (orientation) meaning in the liturgy, as priest and people would face the east together for the Eucharistic portion of the liturgy. In this way, we resume the shared posture of the entrance procession by which we express our pilgrim state on earth, on a journey to the Lord. (cf. The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 80)

Third, churches were traditionally built facing the east, that is, with the altar at the eastern end, so that the Eucharist could be celebrated in that direction. Cardinal Ratzinger refers to this as being mindful of the “cosmic dimension” or “orientation” of the liturgy (Feast of Faith, p. 140) by which the whole of creation can be included in worship of God. This architecture “stand[s] in the cosmos, inviting the sun to be a sign of the praise of God and a sign of the mystery of Christ.” (Feast of Faith, p. 143) Cardinal Ratzinger suggests that if our buildings were oriented this way, it would facilitate the recovery of a spirituality which embraces creation in a traditional manner.

Fourth, while it is reasonable for the Liturgy of the Word to be celebrated face-to-face as an exchange between the one proclaiming the Word and those hearing it, this orientation is not as suited to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The communal character of the liturgy is a positive and necessary one, but it should not be emphasized to the point that the Eucharist is regarded merely a communal meal. The Eucharist is offered first to God as a sacrifice, from Whom it is received as spiritual food.

Fifth, there is sometimes confusion about the various ways in which Christ is present in the liturgy. He is present in the priest in a particular way, and He is also present in the congregation, for where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present in their midst. (cf. Matt. 10:10) But the congregation does not pray to Christ-in-the-priest, nor does the priest pray to Christ-in-the-people. God is present in nature, but we do not worship a rock or a river as God; likewise, we do not worship one another as Christ. The manner of God’s presence is not the same in all things. The Church is not a community closed in on itself, but is open to “what lies ahead and above,” to God. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 80) The Eucharist is not a “dialogue” between the priest and the congregation but between the Church and the Lord.

 [[/FONT]]("") This link is  described in *Praying the  Mass: The Prayers of the People*, chapter 2.

Historical Continuity
The Church, in both the east and west, has traditionally prayed facing the east. If you attend a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, you will see that the priest prays the majority of the anaphora (i.e. the Eucharistic Prayer) facing the east, and probably behind an iconostasis, a screen with doors decorated with icons of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and other saints and angels. The priest will from time to time turn to speak to face the congregation to speak to them; this happens in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as well.

Eastward posture is the traditional posture of the Latin Church as  well, although changes started occurring in the middle of the 20th  century, even before the Second Vatican Council.  The Constitution on  the Sacred Liturgy said nothing about “turning altars around.”  Still,  the practice of priests celebrating Mass “facing the people” (*versus  populum*) – standing on “the other side” of the altar – became more  and more prevalent so quickly that it became the perceived norm, to the  point where Mass celebrated *ad orientem* seemed to be incompatible  with the Ordinary Form.  However, as Pope Benedict XVI has shown by his  example, the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite *can* be celebrated *ad    orientem*; in fact, the *Roman Missal* anticipates that the  priest will be celebrating Mass in this manner because on several  occasions its rubrics[[/FONT]]("") instruct him to  face the people or the altar, instructions which are redundant if those  two directions are always the same.[[/FONT]]("")

An unfortunate “Latinization” of the Eastern Rites, by which they  adopted traditions and characteristics particular to the Latin Rite  (often at the expense of their own), has occurred at times during the  Church’s history.  In 1996, the Vatican Congregation for Eastern  Churches put out a document on Eastern liturgical worship, *Pater  Incomprehensibilis* (PI).  The document praises the “the inalienable  value of the particular heritage of the Eastern Churches” (PI 7) and  stresses the need for preserving the Eastern liturgical traditions.  One  such tradition, prayer facing east, was being endangered by “a new and  recent Latin influence” (PI 107) which spread in the years following the  Second Vatican Council.  After quoting St. John of Damascus at length  (who provided numerous proofs from Scripture of God’s hallowing of the  east[[/FONT]]("")) and addressing  that the priest is  “guiding the people in pilgrimage toward the Kingdom” rather than has  his “back turned to the people,” the document calls for the retention  and safeguarding of prayer facing east as “truly coherent with the  Eastern liturgical spirituality” and having “profound value.” (*Ibid*.)

**The Cross as East**

Pope Benedict XVI, both before his election to the papacy and after, has suggested an alternative approach to facing east: “the cross can serve as the interior ‘east’ of faith.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 83)

Because the Liturgy of the Eucharist is not about a dialogue between  the priest and the congregation, but between the whole church and God,  the cross can serve as a focus point when the priest and the  congregation face each other:  since the cross can be placed *on*  the altar, rather than just near it, it serves to distinguish the  Liturgy of the Word from the Liturgy of the Eucharist. (cf. *Feast of  Faith*, p. 145)  This is the arrangement found on the altar at most  papal Masses.

An objection to this is that the cross can be regarded as a “barrier” or “obstruction” to the act taking place on the altar. Cardinal Ratzinger asks in reply, “Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than the Lord?” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 84) His response to this objection is that “the cross on the altar is not obstructing the view” and is “an open ‘iconostasis.’” (Feast of Faith, p. 145)

[/FONT] See the Order of Mass 1, 29, 127, 132, 133, 139, 141, and 144; also see GIRM 124, 146, 154, 157, 165, 181, 244, and 268.

  [[/FONT]]("") When a church’s  architecture does not  place the sanctuary and altar in the eastern end of the building, one  could treat that part of the church where the altar is located as a  “liturgical east.”

  [[/FONT]]("") Among these are:   God is light (cf. 1  John 1:5), Christ is the “sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), Christ as  “the East” (Zec. 3:8 in the Septuagint), the location of Eden “in the  east” (Gen. 2:8), the east-facing gate of the Temple (cf. Ezek. 44:1),  Christ ascending toward the east (cf. Acts 1:11), and His statement  about His return “from the east.” (Matt. 24:27)

In the new antiphonary?

Lack of rhythmic signs; changes to some melodies of some well-known antiphons, including changing their modes. Just to name a few. It is claimed that the new melodies are more faithful to the original manuscripts. I can’t judge that.

But the lack of rhythmic signs was certainly a shocker.

In the past, about 110 years ago, there were differences in interpretation divided into the Dom Mocquerau and Dom Pothier for example on rhythm. I’m no scholar on the topic (my focus is actually singing it!), but I have a few good books about it.

I really do not know where this blogger is coming from. His three points (they are not facts, btw) do not seem hard at all. He does put quite a few real facts in his essay, but I really couldn’t tell what it was all about. Did someone else figure out his point?

I’m not sure. But the impression I got was that he was telling Catholics at all “ends” of the spectrum that they are judging liturgy with “post-modern” thinking.

I do think he’s wrong on that score; the Roman mass, the people’s parts are said with the priest and deacon (and subdeacon in the EF). They are a reinforcement of the extant prayers, and the faithful are unneeded theologically to complete the mass. In the OF, there are a few prayers which are not echoes of the priest, but they are few… the prayers of the faithful, for example.

In the Byzantine, the people’s prayers are NOT said with the priest; they compliment the prayers of the priest, and the deacon has his own dialogue with the priest, and a dialogue with the people as well… cueing all. Literally, without the people, the liturgy is missing many of the prayers.

There are a few EO and EC parishes that are as disconnected as he describes, but that is neither rubrically supported nor normative for Byzantines, and even then, a choir sings the responses.

I understood it to mean hard in the sense that some people do not want to admit to his facts. I have certain;y seen very mistaken and hard set ideas about liturgy and what it “used” to be like from both traditionalists and liberals.

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