Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope Leads People in Prayer, toward God--Reuters gets it wrong...And objective commentary roundup...

So I'm a little late to the game on this one, mostly because I don't blog that frequently. But if you've been keeping up with the Pope lately (easily doable through the blogs linked on the right of this page), you know that for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, His Holiness celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel, as he always does for this feast; he baptized some Roman children, as he always does; but there was something strikingly different about this year's Mass. The Pope celebrated Mass on the old high altar--the one which holds the ballots for Papal elections. This means, of course, that the Pope was saying the Mass facing the altar, the crucifix, and (liturgical) east. This represents a great joy for those who wish to see the state of the liturgy return to reverence and an orientation toward God--more than a fixation with "community."

Reuters, however, as usual, doesn't see it that way:

Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, re-introducing an old ritual that had not been used in decades.

Of course, I take issue with this. First off, as a priest I know once said, when celebrating Mass facing the altar, "my back is no more turned on you you than those of the people sitting in the front row." Rather, this gesture represents turning toward God, turning toward the East from whence the Resurrected Lord will return. The Pope is setting an excellent example for the whole world by doing this. I hope that in time we will see more of this--on altars the world over. As the Pope has said before, we shouldn't be looking at the priest, but the priest should be looking with us at the Lord.

By the way, there was one good point in the Reuters article, but it was a quote:

A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectonic jewel."

For the full article, if you dare, you may go here.

For objective commentary, however, check out

The New Liturgical Movement
Hallowed Ground
The Cafeteria is Closed
What Does the Prayer Really Say?
(Fr. Z has a good fisk of another article that commits the same blunders as the one that I quoted).

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