Why Ad Orientem Mass is Anathema to So Many?
Posted by Brian Williams -Liturgy Guy
It is still mind blowing to see the continuing reaction to Cardinal Robert Sarah’s callfor more ad orientem masses. As I have chronicled previously, the swift response from the Vatican to the Cardinal’s address at Sacra Liturgia U.K. was enough to make your head spin. In an era of conflicting ecclesial conferences, ambiguous footnotes, and “go make a mess” Catholicism, it would appear that right worship and traditional orientation might be the only exception to the rule.
The real question we need to ask is this: Why are so many bishops opposed to masses being offered ad orientem?
The answer may be as simple as this: Pride.
That’s it. Pride. That foundation of all sins. It caused the fall of the angel Lucifer. It lead to the fall of Adam. And it’s been the cause of the widespread collapse of the faith in the post-conciliar years.
Offering the Mass ad orientem forces us to recognize, without any doubt or confusion, just who it is we are worshipping.
Sin tells man to worship himself. Virtue instructs him to worship God.
If you want to understand why the opposition to a mere suggestion from Cardinal Sarah is so intense, look no further than pride.
For a better understanding of this we only need to listen Pope Benedict XVI. Writing in The Spirit of the Liturgy, in the chapter “The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer“, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger notes:
“In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest — the “presider”, as they now prefer to call him — becomes the real point of reference for the whole Liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing.”
Connecting the dots even more on this unhealthy preoccupation to see the priest during the liturgy, an argument so foundational for proponents of versus populum (facing the people), Ratzinger continues:
“The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning toward the East was not a “celebration toward the wall”; it did not mean that the priest “had his back to the people”: the priest himself was not regarded as so important.”
The priest himself was not regarded as so important. Unless, of course, modernity has decided that he is; that man’s focus upon himself is more important. It’s excused in various ways:
We have to engage people.
The people aren’t ready for this. We need weeks/ months/ years/ decades/ generations(?) of catechesis to prepare them.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal doesn’t allow for it in the Novus Ordo.
Excuses. Falsehoods. The only thing preventing more masses from being offered ad orientem is pride. Or possibly fear. Fear of man instead of a virtuous fear of the Lord.
But that’s an entirely different vice for another discussion.
(Photo Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.)
Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass
Right at the outset let’s clear up a common misconception: the Novus Ordo is not a vernacular only Mass. Of course, considering how most Catholics experience the Holy Mass at their parish on a weekly basis, this might not appear to be the case.
No doubt many people believe the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is only offered in the vernacular; and why shouldn’t they. For decades the liturgy has largely been devoid of Latin. What was once seen as something universal, unifying and transcendent is now perceived by many Catholics to be divisive, limiting and outdated.
Many of the faithful seem to have little or no use for Latin in the Mass. They claim not to oppose availability to the Extraordinary Form for Catholics who prefer the traditional liturgy. What they object to is replacing any of the vernacular in the Ordinary Form with Latin. Many of these Catholics are vehemently opposed to Latin when it comes to the Mass, but this in no way reflects the mind of the Church. For Latin, which is the language of the Church, is also the language of the liturgy.
The last major document issued by Rome regarding the sacred liturgy prior to the Second Vatican Council was the encyclical Mediator Dei by Pope Pius XII. Regarding the use of Latin within the Mass, Venerable Pius XII wrote:
“The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth.” (MD 60)
While the Holy Father recognized that “the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites” may be of advantage to the faithful, nowhere did he advocate for the removal of Latin from the Holy Mass.
In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed two principles which are often viewed today as being at odds with one another:
“In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people…
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” (SC 54)
So while the Council fathers imagined a much wider use of the “mother tongue” within the Mass, they still stressed the need for the faithful to learn, say and sing in Latin such parts of the Mass as the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.
In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI again revisited the place of Latin within the liturgy in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis.
“[P]articularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency…In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church…with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung.
Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.” (SC 62)
Continuity vs. Rupture
Many Catholics today are just beginning to experience the liturgical continuity consistent with Mediator Dei, Sacrosanctum Concilium and Sacramentum Caritatis. For some parishes it has become the norm during penitential seasons such as Advent and Lent to incorporate Latin into the Mass, for example at the Sanctus or the Agnus Dei. This gradual reintroduction of Latin into the Ordinary Form of the Mass is beginning to address the rupture experienced by the removal of Latin in the years following the Council.
What is still surprising at times is the level of resistance to a wider use of Latin within the Ordinary Form. Despite the consistent teaching of the Church, from encyclicals to Councils to Synods, many Catholics still wish to have the language of the Church restricted to only one form of the Latin Rite.
The below clip from Catholic News Service further touches upon the Latin renaissance currently underway within the Catholic Church.
Posted on October 30, 2013 – Read the source: https://liturgyguy.com/2013/10/30/latin-and-the-novus-ordo/
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