The personal appeal made by His Eminence Robert Card. Sarah to priests to begin reading Holy Mass ad orientem has once again stirred debate about the correct translation of GIRM 299, about the position of the altar and about the position of the priest at the altar. The Latin has been explained in a response by the CDW to a dubium.
The official English translation is WRONG. Some continue to deny that, despite the fact that they are WRONG.
Some have responded, “But Father! But Father!”, they squeak, “the Italian translation of 299 also says that Mass must be ‘facing the people’! We don’t have to know Latin to know what the Spirit of Vatican II wants us to do. But you HATE VATICAN II!”
So much for the quality of their arguments.
In any event, under another entry on this matter one of the commentators here said that the Polish translation of 299 gets it right. I asked for the Polish version and the commentator sent this by email:
You can find the Polish text on: kkbids episkopat pl/?id=201#id=225 (two dots removed to get past spam filter) – the official site of Polish “commission for divine worship and discipline of the sacraments”.
And here’s my try on overly literal translation of the first part of #299 into English:
The altar should be built in a distance from the wall, so it would be easy to walk around it and celebrate at it towards the people. It is proper to emplace it in such manner everywhere, where it is possible.
Or with wording similar to the actual English text:
The altar should be built apart from the wall, in a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and celebrate at it facing the people. It is desirable to put it in such a way wherever possible.
Note that one sentence of the original Latin has been split into two, [I never thought I would appreciate parataxis.] and the second sentence explicitly refers to the placement. No “quod” that may work differently depending on the language, and no way to misinterpret it.
Oh, by the way, one priest in my city has already said he’ll remove the table altar from his parish church, leaving only the high altar in the sanctuary.
Kudos to that priest and thanks for your effort!
The Poles got it right.
Meanwhile, on the topics of Cardinal Sarah and 299 see these.
Fr. Hunwicke HERE
We have reached a turning point at which every priest knows that if he heeds Cardinal Sarah’s exhortation, he makes it easier for his brother priests also to do the same; and that that if he opts for a quiet life, it will be that bit easier for the Tablet and ACTA to pick off his bolder brother clergy by clamouring for their episcopal persecution. There is no reason why a start cannot be made, after catechesis, by introducing versus Orientem ‘provisionally’ on alternate Sundays, or even just on the first Sunday of each month. Advent, when priest and people go forward together to meet the Lord who Comes to us, is indeed a highly suitable occasion.
In the Veni Sancte Spiritus we ask God the Holy Spirit to water what is parched, to heal what is wounded, to bend what is rigid, to warm what is cold, to govern that which strays from the way.
Prof. DeVille HERE
Many Orthodox have been appalled, as many Eastern Catholics have also been, less by the well-known if rather rare liturgical shenanigans one forever hears about (clown Masses, prancing ladies wafting incense from flea-market crockery, etc.) and more by the profound estrangement of Latin Catholics from their own tradition—indeed, appalled at their open disdain for their own tradition, and that of the universal and undivided Church.
True to form, critics of Sarah’s proposal give every evidence of this, insouciantly defending a disoriented priest celebrating Mass backwards and refusing with indecent haste (as in Westminster) to tolerate any other “tradition” than this one. That is a sign of deep internal pathology bordering on self-hatred, and does not bode well for East-West unity.
At a stroke, Cardinal Sarah’s wise proposal would accomplish two things. First, it would contribute to the slow but on-going process of the Latin Church’s healing and recovery of parts of her tradition that were perversely junked after Vatican II by shady operatives (see Louis Bouyer’s memoirs for evidence of this) playing duplicitous games with a credulous Pope Paul VI. Second, it would contribute to the slow but on-going process of the East and West drawing closer to one another by both drawing closer to Christ, the rising Son of God whom we worship by the first light of dawn in the East.
Prof. Huizenga HERE
I’d also like to remind readers that the issue of ad orientem posture isn’t merely a minor matter of moment for fastidious liturgical nerds, as if the Mass were a mere matter of aesthetics cordoned off safely on Sundays. Rather, liturgy breaks the bounds of the sanctuary and affects all that we do and indeed the wider culture as it brings God’s people to God. The cultivation of culture—first, among Catholics themselves, and then outwards from there—depends on a proper cultus, a liturgy in which God is sought and found. As Pope Benedict XVI made clear in his 2008 address at the Collège des Bernardins, Benedictine monasticism (for example) generated many of the glories of later western Christian civilization as a secondary result because its primary aim was quaerere Deum, seeking God. Restoring ad orientem posture to the ordinary form of the Mass would go a long way to putting God back at the center, and help shape Catholic culture and Catholic witness and service thereby.