Benedict XVI commented again on turning toward the ‘East’ for liturgical worship

AD ORIENTEM SHIRT 01

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In the recent number of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, there is a blurb which informs us that Benedict XVI contributed some text for a book on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the election of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew.  Benedict wrote about how eastward-facing worship points to salvation.

The Pope Emeritus has praised worship ad orientem in a book which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the election of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

In his book extract, the retired Benedict XVI writes: “A shepherd of the flock of Jesus Christ is never oriented only to the circle of his own faithful. The community of the Church is universal, also in the sense that it includes all of reality.”

He continues: “This is evident, for example, in the liturgy, which does not indicate only the commemoration and fulfilment of the saving acts of Jesus Christ.

“It is journeying towards the redemption of all creation. In orienting the liturgy towards the East (the Orient), we see that Christians, together with the Lord, desire to proceed towards the salvation of creation in its entirety. Christ, the Crucified and Risen Lord, is at the same time also the ‘sun’ which enlightens the world.”

Turning, re-turning, our liturgical worship ad orientem – having priest and people in unity facing the symbolic East – will help to revive our long-enervated Catholic identity.

In his last years, and in the midst of recent controversy, Benedict chooses to remind us of what he has written of for many years and which he also strove to promote also through his monumental Summorum Pontificum.

I cannot imagine that Benedict does not know of the controversy surrounding Card. Sarah’s perfectly reasonable and measured appeal to priests to begin (again) to celebrate Holy Mass ad orientem.  Surely he knows well what Card. Sarah did and how many have reacted.  His choice to write even a brief comment about ad orientem worship is, to my mind, significant.

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5 Responses to Benedict XVI commented again on turning toward the ‘East’ for liturgical worship

  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention – it is marvellous!

    Somehow that “The community of the Church is universal, also in the sense that it includes all of reality” reminded me of Plato placing the Olympians on the outer edge of the cosmos looking out to the Good Beyond Being (like the Ainur looking to Illuvatar in Tolkien) – and points beyond Plato with “we see that Christians, together with the Lord, desire to proceed towards the salvation of creation in its entirety”. (Might there also be a gracious redirection-as-required to the tone of some of the ‘Green Patriarch’s’ enthusiastic utterances, here – stewardship clearly directed to the Eschaton, avoiding any Gaia-ish misdirections?)

  2. Bthompson says:

    Given the theology of orientation, it has always stuck me that GIRM 310 is somewhat incongruous with much of the rest of the OF. I.e. that the most ideal place for the celebrant to sit is versus populum the apse (unless the Tabernacle is there); and that is not to mention the conundrum of how to do a raised chair in the apse yet avoid a throne-like arrangement as for a bishop. Fellow readers: insights?

  3. wolfeken says:

    Great words, indeed. Although the only way this will be accomplished is if priests, bishops, cardinals, popes (and former popes) do this on a daily basis. An ad orientem novus ordo liturgy once a year on the commemoration of the baptism of our Lord is lovely, but at some point several decades of words have to transition into regular actions.

  4. kurtmasur says:

    “I cannot imagine that Benedict does not know of the controversy surrounding Card. Sarah’s perfectly reasonable and measured appeal to priests to begin (again) to celebrate Holy Mass ad orientem. Surely he knows well what Card. Sarah did and how many have reacted. His choice to write even a brief comment about ad orientem worship is, to my mind, significant.”

    I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again, sometimes (in moments such as these) I wonder what opinion the Pope Emeritus REALLY has about Francis, and vice-versa.

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    This news item is great, and it’s reassuring to know that Benedict XVI is still toiling away in the vineyards of the Lord with this text.