At the Bonfire, Fr. Fox is picking up on the ad orientem dimension of the new reform of the liturgy Pope Benedict is using as part of his "Marshall Plan".
I was interested to see Fr. Fox speak about this on the tails of my having read Alcuin Reid’s comments here. Whereas I have in the past made a connection between how the Pope celebrates in the Basilica as being a model for bishops, Reid made a connection between the Pope’s recent ad orientem celebration in the Sistine Chapel as a model for parishes.
Let’s look at a bit of the end of Fr. Fox’s piece here, but I want you to go there, read his piece, and spike his stats!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I was just reviewing the Missal, and it’s right there, in red print: at various points of the Mass, it notes when the priest "faces the people"; why would the Missal highlight this if, as so many assume, the Missal expects him to be facing the people throughout? Rather, what the actual rubrics of the Mass say (as opposed to what people and even priests think they say) — or, rather, don’t say — is which way the priest is facing at most of these moments, leaving the matter open. But at certain points, the priest is told he must face the people; meaning, obviously, he may–or may not–at the other times. It’s all very clear, all one has to do is actually read the Missal.
I have found it shocking and distressing that at least some folks in the pews do not consider the pope’s wishes and guidance on these matters to be of overriding importance. This came up as I have introduced a bit of Latin (my critics would not call it a "bit"–but anyone who cared to compare the ratio of Latin to English words used in our Masses here would find I am right; they are reacting to Latin per se, not to its quantity); when people asked why, I cited the Second Vatican Council and Popes Paul, John Paul II and Benedict; to which came the response, from some: who cares? One parishioner accused me of worshipping the pope.
Now, in fairness, in one homily, I said that some had told me they didn’t care about Vatican II, and that drew audible gasps from the assembly; and when I was installed as pastor, at each parish, part of the ritual is that the pastor publicly swears–on the Gospels–that he will teach and celebrate the mysteries faithfully. That was very well received. (If you have never seen that ritual, it may be because it doesn’t have to be done publicly; but in this diocese, a pastor must make this oath.) So I am confident most parishioners reject this mindset; but it’s out there.
So, this will require quite a lot of discussion and explanation–which is why I’m posting this. I know many parishioners read this and I want to get people reflecting on this.
It is necessary to say that I have no immediate plans actually to offer regularly scheduled Masses ad orientem; I think it would be best for all concerned that any change such as that be discussed, explained, and handled without too much abruptness; and given all else that is going on in our parishes, I just don’t know when the right time will be for any of that. So those who think I’m up to something, well, I’m showing my cards right now. After all, I didn’t make the pope do what he did; and when the pope acts, it means something! So I am inviting reflection on, and consideration of, what the pope is teaching us. But I do think there will come a time it would be good to try this. When, where, how? I have no idea. I am trying to proceed calmly, I hope others will observe the same approach.