Step by step we have seen the Holy Father and his new MC, Msgr. Guido Marini, reintroducing elements of a more traditional liturgical style.
For the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord, 13 January, the Holy Father will as usual celebrate Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel. However, instead of setting up an ironing board in front of the main altar (beneath the Last Judgement of Michaelangelo), the Holy Father will actual use the main altar.
Here is an APCOM story in my translation, emphases and comments.
POPE: TOMORROW WILL SAY MASS WITH HIS BACK [its a cliche in any language] TO THE FAITHFUL IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL
For reasons of architecture, baptisms with the pre-Conciliar use [and post Conciliar. Nothing in the documents requires that Mass be said facing the people.]
Vatican City, 12 Jan (Apcom) A thing unusual and original [See how ridiculous things have become? When something like this is perceived as being "outlandish"?]: tomorrow the Pope will celebrate Mass during which he will baptize 13 children in the Sistine Chapel "with his back to the faithful and his gaze toward the Cross". A note from the liturgical office mentions, in fact, that "this year a wooden platform will not be erected bearing a special altar for the occasion, but the true [
"proprio"] altar of the Sistine Chapel will be used.
"It was decided to celebrate at the old altar so as not to alter the beauty and harmony of this archtectural jewel", the Vatican note explained,[This was the point of an editorial years ago in Notitiae, which is my translation is available widely on the internet: "do not destroy the harmony of the place, by putting up a table in front of a main altar. It is better to use the main altar in those cases and not have two altars in the same space."] "preserving its structure from the point of view of the celebration and using a possibility foreseen in the liturgical norms. [This is just Vaticanese. In fact, far from being just a "possibility":, the rubrics actually presuppose that Mass is celebrated ad orientem.] This means that in some moments the Pope will be seen with his back turned to the faithful [BUT NOBODY PANIC!!] and his gaze at the Cross, thus reorienting the attitude and the disposition of the whole assembly. [And this, dear friends, is the real reason why it is going to happen. Listen to my PODCAzTs on what Benedict thinks about ad orientem worship.]
The liturgical office nevertheless clarified that, "the celebration will have the usual order and the ordinary Missal will be used, namely, that of Paul VI. [It is so ridiculous that some people think that just because Mass is said ad orientem, therefore it must be the "old way". So, they have to say things like this in press statements.] "Benedict XVI will wear some vestments belonging to John Paul II and during the rite of baptism" the notice from the liturgical office continues, "he will draw the water from an artistic font in bronze, made some years ago by the scuplture Lello Scorzelli, the same artist who made the crozier used during the whole pontificate of Papa Wojtyla.
The Pontiff, as usual, will pour the water on the heads of the children using a glided shell. The gesture has a rich meaning. Indeed, from the liturgical point of view, the shell harks to the pilgrimage, symbolizing the new journey that the baptized begin once they have entered to take part in the community of believers."
I contend that more damage was done by turning around the orientation of Mass than perhaps any single other change.
This is am important move upon which, I hope, much else will turn.