Ad orientem

The liturgical eye-candy guys at NLM have posted some excellent screen-captures of the Vatican TV feed of the Holy Father’s Mass for the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel.

This is now the time when he openly celebrates ad orientem though we pray he will do so in other venues as well.

Here is a good example of the shots at NLM.

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  1. Chris says:

    The sad thing about this is it marks yet another full year in which the Holy Father hasn’t said the traditional Latin Mass and done what he is supposedly telling his bishops to allow.

    If we’re going brick by brick, then he’s on a year-long lunch break.

  2. burgensis says:

    At Fotografia Felici there are many photos online.

  3. Thomas says:

    Oh, give it a rest, Chris. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

  4. The Holy Father does, of course, celebrate ad orientem every time he sings the Mass in the Vatican Basilica or S. Maria Maggiore, or S. Giovanni in Laterano, or S. Paolo fuori le Mura…

  5. Of course he does Gregory of L. He has no choice in the places you mention if he faces the people.

  6. A good hermeneutic of continity is one which carries the grace of ad orientem day and night, non-stop, always in a spirit of prayer, always turned toward the Most Holy Sacrifice…always!

  7. When I look at these photos, I of course see the Pope, with his concelebrants, his deacons, and his cerimoniere, and I see the grandeur of the Sistine Chapel.

    But I also see a Catholic priest saying Mass.

  8. Nick says:

    Attention! My annual question: is incense ever used in the Sistine Chapel after the restoration of the frescoes was finished?

  9. Samson says:

    Chris: the papal solemn mass in the ancient rite is kind of a complex ceremony, much more then a regular ponticial mass and has not been celebrared in 40 years or so. Therefore I guess it takes some time of studying and education to make it happend. But in time.. brick by brick. If he does it, it would obviously be a great victory for the whole church and its liturgical life. but the fact The Holy Father does celebrate mass ad orientem on the old high altar in the Sistine Chapel instead of the portable versus populum table is also a victory.

  10. joan says:

    I’m with Chris. There’s no time to waste. I guess there must be a reason?

  11. alex says:

    I have to agree with Samson, it is a very complex ceremony requiring much training. On the part of His Holiness, and all the others involved. While the Extra-Ordinary form of the Mass can be celebrated without restriction, the Missal of Paul VI is the Ordinary form. I suspect that along with re-introducing the Extra-Ordinary form, His Holiness also wants the Ordinary form prayed with the reverence and respect due the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I would even go as far as to say that this is the most important liturgical reform to be made. Many people will continue attending the Ordinary Form which can be nearly as beautiful as the Extra-Ordinary Form is prayed properly with reverence, respect, and according to the GIRM not the whims of the celebrant.

  12. It is my sincere wish that all Masses (including the Novus Ordo) will be celebrated Ad Orientem.

  13. Deo Gratias…I can see Pope Benedict celebrating the TLM as the Bishop of Rome, but the full Solemn Papal Mass that I don’t see happening anytime soon.

  14. Dear Chris and Joan,

    I think you are both missing the point, and by a wide margin. If you look at the changes in Papal liturgies from the beginning of the pontificate, and especially from the beginning of Msgr. Guido Marini’s tenure as M.C., you will see that the Holy Father has been implementing true, authentic, sane reform of the liturgy with all deliberate speed, according to the principle of organic development.

    That the Holy Father prefers the usus antiquior personally, I hold as a matter of moral certainty; he has a duty, however, as universal pastor, to care for the Church’s liturgy. His attention must be dedicated in the first to the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, because the correct, reverent, pious celebration of Mass in the OF will have the most salutary effects on the greatest number of souls (just as the abuses have damaged both the souls that have authored them and the souls of the faithful who have been subjected to them – a great many people have even left the Church because of their scandal at the way in which the Mass is celebrated; imagine what a victory for the Evil One, that he should use Christians’ very love of the Great Sacrifice in order to separate souls from the Body of Christ?).

    It is the official solicitude for souls that guides the Holy Father’s efforts to reform the liturgy, not capricious exercise of personal preference.

    As a practical matter, I wonder whether a Papal Mass with the old books could even be done, since many of the offices in the old capella papale have been abolished. I do not know the answer to this, it is a real question for me.

  15. Peter W says:

    I don’t think that the Sistine chapel is orientated (I know what you’re all going to say, and I agree, but I thought I would mention it for the sake of accuracy or just to be picky).

  16. Gravitas says:

    I cannot believe that you all think a man as incredibly intelligent as the Holy Father and his MC who is also incredibly intelligent cannot figure out how to celebrate a traditional pontifical Mass. Give me a break.

    Father Z has written about this before and I’m sure it’s not easy. That being said, it’s been a year and a half since the MP. I think if they wanted to they could have figured it out by now.

    I’m not down on this Mass and ad orientem. It’s a good start. But it’s a start that started nearly two years ago and is still in the starting gate. Let’s start to move down the lane a bit, no?

  17. Gravitas: Just so you don’t stay on pins and needles all year, let me be the first to predict authoritatively that Pope Benedict will not celebrate the TLM publicly during 2009 either.

    Although our Holy Father may well prefer the usus antiquior personally — as most likely both you and I do — his principal interest in the TLM as the Vicar of Christ must be its gravitational pull on the ordinary form that will affect so many more souls directly for the foreseeable future (as Chris Altieri outlined so well).

    Besides, I suspect he sees the TLM restoration as coming along quite nicely, more rapidly that he or anyone else could have predicted, and not in much need of an extra bump right now. Perhaps not even the long-rumored “clarification” document

    Even I, who for the first year after the MP was on pins and needles myself, don’t see that much might be gained by a full-scale papal Mass in St. Peter’s, which the “other side” could dismiss as just Roman pomp and pageantry, just “pope stuff” of no import for local diocesan liturgy.

  18. nathan says:

    Isn’t using the term “ad orientem” (“to the east”) on this post misleading?

    The term “ad orientem” doesn’t make sense in the Sistine Chapel because the chapel’s altar is built on the western wall. Even in St Peter’s, true ad orientem has likewise meant facing the congregation in the nave, which the Popes did even in the years prior to the Conciliar reforms that made free-standing altars the predominant liturgical setting.

    It would be better to say he celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the versus Dei stance, facing the Michelangelo cruficix with his back turned to the congregation.

  19. Nick says:

    As I recall, not long ago the Pope would attend a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the faldstool from the throne vested in cope and miter. I see no reason why this could not be reinstituted.

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