Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ad orientem: the single most important reform

Melancholicus shares the view of Phil Lawler that turning the priest around again so that he celebrates Mass facing the direction he ought to be facing is the single most important change that might be made to the lex orandi of the Novus Ordo Missae.

There are a great many changes that Melancholicus would like to see made to his local parish Mass: the banishment of guitars, tambourines and other unsuitable musical instruments; the suppression of all those woefully inappropriate folksy “hymns”; the expulsion of musicians of any stripe from the sanctuary, and their relegation to the choir loft (which is where they should be in the first place); the abandonment of the damnable practice of using ‘girl altar boys’ as servers; the incineration of those shapeless off-white smocks that altar boys servers have been compelled to wear in place of soutane and surplice; an end to the practice of placing BOTH candles on the SAME side of the altar, as well as to reading the introductory rites of the Mass from the all-important chair instead of from the altar; the proscription of the dreadful 1970s ICEL translation of the Mass and its replacement with a language fitting for divine worship, preferably Latin but at the very least a solemn, hieratic English that elevates the minds of its hearers to the splendour of divine things; the suppression of the very banal offertory prayers in the Novus Ordo Missae and their replacement with texts that clearly express the mind of the Church during the offertory; the excision from the Missal of eucharistic prayer II; the scrapping of that silly rubric which instructs the priest to recite the Canon of the Mass in a clear and audible tone for the benefit of a human audience; the suppression of the ‘memorial acclamation’ after the consecration; the replacement of the current practice of having three readings (Old Testament + New Testament + Gospel) with two readings instead (Old Testament OR New Testament + Gospel), on top of which the so-called ‘responsorial psalm’ needs to be deleted from the liturgy as a matter of urgency; the revival of such laudable customs as knocking, bowing and genuflecting where these used to be done; the abolition of communion in the hand, as well as of the wretched extraordinary ministers; the revival of the ancient season of Septuagesima, or pre-Lent (this is topical, since this coming Sunday is in fact Septuagesima Sunday, but the vestments worn at Melancholicus’ local parish Mass will be green instead of violet, which will irritate him no end)...

Did I miss anything?

But out of all these changes, if I had to pick just one, it would be this: turn the priest around, so that he is facing the altar/tabernacle/east/almighty God again, instead of playing to the congregation. In my view, permitting Mass to be celebrated facing the people was the single most damaging liturgical innovation inflicted on the Church after the council. I can see it all the time, wherever the new rite is celebrated. Be he never so zealous for orthodoxy and liturgical correctness, if the celebrant is facing the people he will finish, despite his best intentions, by pitching the Mass to his audience instead of praying to almighty God. Many priests, brainwashed by the liturgical aberrations now fossilized within the new rite, consider the congregation to the be the most important ingredient in the affair, even to the extent of not bothering to celebrate Mass at all if there is no congregation present. Such a mentality could not have arisen if the practice of celebrating ad orientem had been maintained.


The Bovina Bloviator said...

Did I miss anything?

You most certainly did: that dreadful handshaking business, the "sign of peace," and attendant pre-coffee hour chit chat. For me it is nearly as loathsome as the priest celebrating ad occidentalem.

Oh yes, all felt banners must be burned--truly an offense to our Lord. Otherwise, you are off to a fine start.

Melancholicus said...

Yes, Melancholicus forgot to mention the execrable "sign of peace" - probably because his local parish generally omits this particular piece of liturgical hell, Deo gratias.

But you are spot-on regarding the felt banners; Melancholicus was recently impeded from taking a photograph of the beautiful sanctuary of his local church due to the unhappy presence of one of those wretched things within the field of view.