Today I attended the presentation of a book. The Italian edition of Uwe Michael Lang’s book Turning Towards The Lord (in Italian Rivolti al Signore: l’orientamento nella preghiera liturgica. Cantagalli, 2006. Ignatius Press originally published it in English in 2004.) The preface was by Joseph Card. Ratzinger, whom I think you know. One of the presenters was Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith who is the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS).
The book is a positive contribution to the discussion of the importance of rethinking the now prevailing practice of celebration of Holy Mass “toward the people” (versus populum) and making a move back to an orientation of the Eucharistic liturgy “toward God” (versus Deum or versus orientem). Uwe picks up on work already provided by scholars like Klaus Gamber, Joseph Jungmann, Max Thurian, Louis Bouyer, and Joseph Ratzinger.
Without descending onto the old Mass v new Mass battlefield, Lang underscores the spiritual dimension of celebrations ad orientem versus. While there is a strong argument for having the liturgy of the Word versus populum there is similarly a strong, even overwhelming argument in favor of versus Deum celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. Without repeating the argument of the whole book, in the case of the former there is a proclamation, while in the case of the latter having priest and people all “oriented” opens the celebration up to an eschatological dimension. Another strong point of the book is the documentation of how the Second Vatican Council in no way required the repression of Latin or a tearing out of altars or a versus populum celebration. He provides as well the rubrical evidence for ad orientem celebrations.
During the presentation of the book, there was honorable mention of the correct translation of the 2000 GIRM (which is the GIRM for the 2002 third edition of the Missale Romanum) in the infamous no. 299. This point was taken up in the preface by Card. Ratzinger as well. On many occasions in the WDTPRS series I have shown how the USCCB’s document Built of Living Stones retained a faulty translation of 299 even after the aforemention CDWDS had issued a clarification in which it was considered necessary even to explain the grammar of the Latin!
I recommend the book.