Before and after: you decide

Take note of the role of the Crucifix in these two images.

Before (2007):

And after (2008):

 

Biretta tip to Rinascimento sacro  o{]:¬)

Listen to PODCAzTs on the position of the altar here, and here.  Both of these concern Mass ad orientem.

John Paul II celebrated Mass ad orientem, but early in his pontificate (read: before Piero Marini?)

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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48 Responses to Before and after: you decide

  1. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Marini I picture includes a typical abuse for the N.O.: placing flowers directly on the altar. I hate that.

  2. danphunter1 says:

    After.

  3. Charles says:

    Do I detect the 7th candle? Boo-ya!

  4. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Perhaps the parting words of Fr Kolvenbach can be applied to these two pictures: What we see depicted is “the capacity of apostolic dialogue” possessed by Peter, whose “dialogue” is witnessing to Tradition, to the fact that error has no rights. Or is that not what Fr Kolvenback meant in he resigned from being the black pope?

  5. TNCath says:

    Picture I with the portable altar looks awkward and “boxy.” Picture II truly does respect the integrity of the architecture. Seen side by side like this really brings home how much more beautiful the ad orientem posture really is.

  6. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Isn’t this what one reader wanted, I mean, about putting up the best of both? And still people immediately choose ad orientem. Isn’t that interesting?

  7. David M. Wallace says:

    How very fitting is it that the Supreme Pontiff celebrate Holy Mass ‘ad orientem versus,’ especially in the Sixtine Chapel. Here, not only is the direction of prayer toward the Cross; it is also toward the great scene of the Last Judgment. This very much emphasizes the eschatological dimension of the sacred liturgy and the importance of “unidirectional” prayer.

    Here is what St. Thomas says (STh II-II. Q.84. a.3 ad 3):

    “There is a certain fittingness in adoring towards the east. First, because the Divine majesty is indicated in the movement of the heavens which is from the east. Secondly, because Paradise was situated in the east according to the Septuagint version of Genesis 2:8, and so we signify our desire to return to Paradise. Thirdly, on account of Christ Who is ‘the light of the world’ [John 8:12; 9:5, and is called ‘the Orient’ (Zechariah 6:12). Who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east (Psalm 67:34), and is expected to come from the east, according to Matthew 24:27, ‘As lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.'”

  8. Ad orientem, ad occidentem, ad apsidem, whatever ..

    The plain fact of the matter is :

    In photo # 1, the celebrant has his back to the crucifix.
    In photo # 2, the celebrant is facing the crucifix (together with the people who are facing the same way).

  9. woodyjones says:

    Ad orientem, of course.

  10. Liam says:

    Before (but for the flower pot on the altar and the odd candle placement).

    In the After shot, The candle sticking up from behind such a large crucifix looks too weird for words. And the candlesticks, while obviously sized for the fresco rather than the altar, still look odd.

  11. Deborah says:

    The visual difference is striking and quite a contrast, in my opinion. And to think that both are valid options in the ordinary form of the Roman rite is mind boggling.

    How can the same form of the sacred liturgy look and sound completely different from one instance to another?

    Could it be perhaps that we have a third form which needs to be named in order to differentiate them? Or perhaps the rubrical/instructional options which permit the before scenario should be abolished?

  12. mike says:

    Deborah said

    “Or perhaps the rubrical/instructional options which permit the before scenario should be abolished?”

    I’m sure we can get a committee going on that forthwith – good thinking. Paging Mr Bugnini Paging Mr Bugnini…

    m

  13. Christopher Milton says:

    Ah, see! I knew that Jesus was more than just a decoration….

  14. Gavin says:

    This is a plain difference. The cross as background compared to the cross as center. Ad orientem accentuates the cross (visually and figuratively). Even the most reverent priest becomes center of the show when facing the congregation, it’s how the eye works. And I’m sorry but putting candles on the altar doesn’t help. Unless the priest is facing towards the action, it still comes off as The Priest Show and gives the celebrant the opportunity to exploit that.

  15. Melody says:

    Ah. So THAT’S why the extra candle is for! (I’ve honestly been confused). Now I get why everyone was so happy. The candles seem to form a crown for the crucifix, visually emphasizing it.

    Gr… Now, what was the point of throwing that out in the first place? (I ask this question nearly every time I learn something new about the old mass).

  16. Habemus Papam says:

    Before: Artificial.
    After: Natural.

  17. Stephen says:

    Preference of forms aside, what I was struck by was the altar in the first photo. After hearing it called “an ironing board” in previous posts, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s 10 times more dignified than literally thousands of altars in parish churches in this country.

  18. Guy Power says:

    Focus/locus!

    Who/what is center of focus in “before”?
    Who is the central point of focus in the “after”?

  19. David Andrew says:

    I note several things:

    1) the Body of Christ looks like a third-party observer. . . the REAL action is going on in front of him;
    2) the Holy Father is bowing in supreme humility to the Body of Christ. . . where the action is taking place at his feet.

    I see a parallel in American Catholic music trends. We sing so many ditties with texts that glorify us and who we are, rather than “turning our backs” to our own pride and kneeling of the feet of Him who is the Savior of the World.

  20. David Andrew says:

    (In my previous post, I hope my sarcasm wasn’t lost. Certainly I meant to say that the REAL action was more to be found in the second picture over the first.)

    Another interesting thing: pic one was before the restoration of the frescoes, pic two after. I mentioned to a friend of mine that someone (here, I believe) was bemoaning the fact that the celebration didn’t feature use of incense. I didn’t actually see the broadcast, so I can’t comment. What I will say is perhaps this was a conscious choice, as the smoke from incense is very oily and leaves a residue. I’m sure there’s a sense of stewardship at work, given the costs of restoring and cleaning those monumental treasures.

  21. Tom says:

    Mankind is the focus of photo #1.

    Jesus is the focus of photo #2…with mankind in humble posture.

    Father, are you able to place the photos side-by-side to allow a more striking contrast?

  22. Fr. John says:

    “Ah, see! I knew that Jesus was more than just a decoration….

    Comment by Christopher Milton ”

    Christopher,
    Your comment makes in a concise way an important point. In all of my reading I have heard well crafted arguments that lead to the same conclusion that you stated above, but this is a wonderful “sound-bite” argument for the proper orientation of the Mass. Thanks

  23. Richard says:

    The use of candles is radically different in either photo. In other photos I’ve seen including the people’s altar before this Sunday included the six large candle sticks on the high altar, but which weren’t lit. In the above photo here, the high altar’s candle sticks aren’t even there, but rather we have the two candles pushed together on one end of the altar with the solely decorative bunch of flowers on the other end. Note then the role of candles in the pope’s Mass this last Sunday, with the 7th candle even being included.

  24. Richard says:

    Fr. Renzo,

    I don’t see what the deal is with having flowers directly on the altar. After all, the Mass is really just a communal meal and the altar the table around which we gather. We have flowers to decorate and enrich our gathering at home, why not do the same at Mass?

    (I’m kidding, by the way…)

  25. jack burton says:

    I could be wrong but I seem to recall that the in Auctorem Fidei the Church condemned the proposition (put forth by the illicit Synod of Pistoia) that flowers ought never to be placed on the altar.

  26. jack burton says:

    I could be wrong but I seem to recall that in the bull ‘Auctorem Fidei’ the Church condemned the proposition (put forth by the illicit Synod of Pistoia) that flowers ought never to be placed on the altar. I vaguely recall encountering the subject in other documents. I think it is a custom in many places going back long before the 1960’s.

    I just looked up Auctorem Fidei and found the quotation. The is the condemned proposition:

    “Likewise, the prescription forbidding cases of sacred relics or flowers being placed on the altar,—rash, injurious to the pious and approved custom of the Church.”

    There are actually a great many condemnations that sound like the agenda of the liturgical reformers. haha
    The Pistoia affair is an interest case in studying Church teaches of the past that speak to the nature of authentic liturgical reform et cetera.

    Here is an online version in English: http://www.catholicresearch.org/Decrees/AuctoremFidei.html

  27. jack burton says:

    Plus, am I tripping or are there not flowers on the altar in both pictures? I difference that I see is that the Marini II version actually appears to have some taste. Although of course I think the effect is completely different when things are versus populum since it expresses the table/meal motif rather than the altar/sacrifice thing. I dunno..

  28. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Gradines, jack, gradines.

  29. TNCath says:

    Richard said, “In the above photo here, the high altar’s candle sticks aren’t even there, but rather we have the two candles pushed together on one end of the altar with the solely decorative bunch of flowers on the other end.”

    I’ve seen this done often over the years in churches in the U.S, and it always drives me CRAZY. Is it some kind of “haute liturigical style” a la stoles on the outside of the chasuble, blue vestments, and immersion baptismal fonts?

  30. jack burton says:

    Fr. di Lorenzo,

    I believe that the GIRM for the novus ordo actually condemns putting flowers directly on the altar but this is more a manifestation of that condemned neo-gallican mentality in my opinion (and what Gueranger would call anti-liturgical heresy) since ‘Auctorem Fidei’ vindicates flowers on the mensa and there is nothing in the pre-Vatican II legislation (as far as I know) that would prevent this. In fact I would dare say that the spirit of Pistoia is all over the place in the post-Vatican II reforms. In any case I think you are right that putting flowers directly on the altar is today a liturgical abuse but this state of affairs is an innovation as far as I can tell. Of course I believe the gradines would be ideal either way so I don’t want to make a big deal out of nothing. I actually don’t have a problem with the current GIRM in this regard I just find the parallels with Pistoia to be mildly amusing.

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    Deborah: “Or perhaps the rubrical/instructional options which permit the before scenario should be abolished?”

    Requiring ad orientem celebration would stablize the Novus Ordo and encourage its development as a permanent and worthy form of the Roman rite. I wonder whether versum populum celebration and the resultant lack of liturgical focus is a prime reason for the current splintering and disintegration of the ordinary form.

  32. Nick says:

    I’ve asked this before but without any response: After all the restoration work done to the Sistine Chapel is incense ever used there?

  33. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    Before: Jesus Christ is made present in the Eucharist.
    After: Jesus Christ is made present in the Eucharist.

    Claro?

  34. Charles A. says:

    TNCath said: ‘Richard said, “In the above photo here, the high altar’s candle sticks aren’t even there, but rather we have the two candles pushed together on one end of the altar with the solely decorative bunch of flowers on the other end.”

    I’ve seen this done often over the years in churches in the U.S, and it always drives me CRAZY. Is it some kind of “haute liturigical style” a la stoles on the outside of the chasuble, blue vestments, and immersion baptismal fonts?'”

    – yes – this is the Queer Eye for the Straight Cleric style of liturgical interior decoration. I especially love the ‘cunning’ flower and candle arrangement – where symmetry is anathema.

  35. Matt Q says:

    TNCath wrote:

    “Picture I with the portable altar looks awkward and “boxy.” Picture II truly does respect the integrity of the architecture. Seen side by side like this really brings home how much more beautiful the ad orientem posture really is.”

    ()

    So true, TNCath, it is boxy looking, and what is the mentality of doubling up the candles on one side of the altar? It makes it look like it was kind of credenza. It is lopsided and imbalanced. Yes, that the word for the mindset of these people who do such things, IMBALANCED.

    =====

    Liam wrote:

    “In the After shot, The candle sticking up from behind such a large crucifix looks too weird for words. And the candlesticks, while obviously sized for the fresco rather than the altar, still look odd.”

    ()

    Liam, I take it you’ve not had the experience or understand what is actually taking place here beyond just the merely artistic observation.

    =====

    Jack Burton wrote:

    “I believe that the GIRM for the novus ordo actually condemns putting flowers directly on the altar but this is more a manifestation of that condemned neo-gallican mentality in my opinion (and what Gueranger would call anti-liturgical heresy) since ‘Auctorem Fidei’ vindicates flowers on the mensa and there is nothing in the pre-Vatican II legislation (as far as I know) that would prevent this. In fact I would dare say that the spirit of Pistoia is all over the place in the post-Vatican II reforms. In any case I think you are right that putting flowers directly on the altar is today a liturgical abuse but this state of affairs is an innovation as far as I can tell. Of course I believe the gradines would be ideal either way so I don’t want to make a big deal out of nothing. I actually don’t have a problem with the current GIRM in this regard I just find the parallels with Pistoia to be mildly amusing.”

    ()

    Jack:

    I don’t think there is any forbidding of flowers in the John XXIII Missal. I’ve seen numerous pictures of Christmas Masses said Forma Extraordinaria and there were poinsettias in between the candlesticks as well as round the altar ( which at the same time is not directly ON the altar ). Nonetheless, I think it’s okay via the Tridentine Mass but not Novus Ordo. I don’t like flowers directly on the altar during Novus Ordo Masses, but that’s my opinion.

    =====

    Nick asked:

    “I’ve asked this before but without any response: After all the restoration work done to the Sistine Chapel is incense ever used there?”

    ()

    Nick, I think you write to Father Z and ask him directly. I think he would know.

    =====

    Henry Edwards wrote:

    “Requiring ad orientem celebration would stablize the Novus Ordo and encourage its development as a permanent and worthy form of the Roman rite. I wonder whether versum populum celebration and the resultant lack of liturgical focus is a prime reason for the current splintering and disintegration of the ordinary form.”

    ()

    Henry, by way of practice, Ad Orientem may very well be the case, but REQUIRING it will never happen. The Church doesn’t know how to REQUIRE anything anymore. In all the recent documents, there are no Shalls, Musts, Wills, Shall-nots, Must-nots, Will-nots.

  36. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    In a recent document — what was it called? which listed many of the minor and the horrific abuses of the N.O., and was signed by all the dicasteries and congregations (amazing, that) — there was an absolute prohibition of flowers being directly on the altar, a prohibition consonant with the immemorial custom in the Latin Rite as far as I know.

    We all have to realize that the altar is one thing, gradines are another thing altogether. Candles can go on directly on the altar if not on any gradines, but not flowers.

    I’ve used that document time and again to stop, for instance, harvest festival altars sporting pumpkins and everything else vegetative under the sun. Another thing I hate is flowers in front of the altar, making a statement that ad orientem is not welcome in the church.

  37. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you Father, for the picture of John Paul the Great saying Mass “facing east”. I knew he had said Mass in his private chapel that way. It is amazing (and scary) to think how much power (for lack of a better word) Marini I held over both John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI. My mother keeps asking me this: “They are the Pope. Shouldn’t they have the last word?” I am guessing both JPII and BXVI were very polite with Marini I?

  38. paul says:

    Could anyone who watched the Mass tell me if the Holy Father said all of the Eucharistic Prayer aloud? Did he use the Roman Canon?

  39. Prof. Basto says:

    I believe that picture of Pope John Paul II celebrating ad orientem was taken on October 17th, 1978, when the late Holy Father celebrated Mass for the first time after his election, with the Cardinal Electors.

    And yes, Marini I wasn’t arround yet.

  40. Different says:

    Paul,

    I read elsewhere that the Holy Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and said the Mass in Italian. I assume that it was audible as well.

  41. Geoffrey says:

    Yes, Eucharistic Prayer II was used, in Italian, and it was audible.

  42. Nick says:

    Matt Q,

    Doesn’t Fr. Z read his blog?
    IMHO the Piero Marini criticisms need to stop. The liturgical reversals began with the modernist tastes of Paul VI which were enthusiastically embraced by John Paul I & II. Benedict XVI disagreed with these reversals and simply changed his Master of Ceremonies, a move any of the previous popes could have done if they chose to. Archb. Marini did not emerge from a vacuum and the popes were not his puppets. Bishops and priests, for various motives, have aped what the pope does liturgically over these past televised decades. It can only be hoped that Benedict XVI will live a very long life to influence matters liturgical.

  43. paul says:

    Different says:

    ‘Paul,

    I read elsewhere that the Holy Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and said the Mass in Italian. I assume that it was audible as well.’

    Thanks. One step at a time, I guess. That seems to be the Holy Father’s style.

  44. David Andrew says:

    Nick:

    Of course Fr. Z reads this blog. He posted a very firm warning on another thread where a poster was engaging in truly offensive, rash and divisive criticism of the Novus Ordo Mass.

    I have all confidence that if the criticisms being leveled against P. Marini were not in keeping with a level of civility in this thread, he’d certainly lay down the law.

    IMHO the work of P. Marini is worthy of the scorn it receives, and to suggest that Paul VI and the two John Pauls were somehow complicitous is really odd. I’ve read over at “Off the Record” at CWN time and again that P. Marini and his compatriots were deeply entrenched in an intra-Vatican split between the CDW and the Office of Liturgical Celebrations. As for John Paul II’s behavior, I think that in the later years of his reign it was pretty clear that in his illness others were jockeying for position, and I suspect that P. Marini was one of the more agressive ones in blocking anything approaching reform of the reform.

    I understand that those hideous vestments worn during the Austrian visit, for instance, were P. Marini’s doing entirely, and that the Cardinals actually had requested the use of baroque vestments. Marini’s behavior in that regard was beyond comprehension, deserving of scorn. Certainly G. Marini has brought a sense of class back to his office.

  45. Henry Edwards says:

    David Andrew: Certainly G. Marini has brought a sense of class back to his office.

    Your colloquial usage of the word “class” here seems quite apt. I understand that P. Marini says in his recent book (which I have not personally seen) that John Paul II did not “interfere” in his planning of papal Masses. Whereas Marini’s motivation as director of papal liturgy may well have been ideological, it seemed to me that these papal Masses — especially in the later years of JP II’s papacy — came across as basically just trashy (from whatever ideological viewpoint).

  46. Habemus Papam says:

    IMHO Benedict XVI has a far deeper understanding of liturgy than Paul VI and the two John Pauls put together.

  47. jack burton says:

    Habemus,
    I don’t doubt your statement but I do find it curious that Cardinal Wojtyla was appointed to the Congregation of Rites (or whatever it was called at the time) in the early 1970’s. This suggests to me that he had some credentials as far as liturgy in concerned. I’m very curious about this topic actually.

  48. Nick says:

    David Andrew,

    My comment about Fr. Z reading his blog was in response to Matt Q’s suggestion I contact Fr. Z directly about whether incense is ever used in the renovated Sistine Chapel. I assumed Fr. Z read my question when he read his blog.

    As to your assertion that I suggested Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II were “somehow complicitous” isn’t odd at all. Presumably these Popes were not blind to what was going on around them liturgically for many years, whereas most of the commentators here only occasionally saw it in pictures and videos. As I said earlier: these popes could easily have changed their Master of Ceremonies at any time if they had had any problems with Archb. Piero Marini’s productions. Only Pope Benedict XVI did.