Sunday, 19 December 2010

As someone who braved sheet ice and foul weather to attend the Rorate Mass at the Oxford Oratory, I know that you know that I love the older form. However, I feel the need to comment on the following, I remain to be convinced that the older form ad orientem is a panacea for the world’s ills. My comments in red.

What are the advantages of standing at the altar ad orientem, as I have experienced them over the past two years? I can think of ten straight off:

1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.

What other direction should the Mass have? It is just easier to be theocentric ad orientem.

2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.

Not necessarily. Unnecessarily ponderous bowing and laboured movements by the priest, deacon and sub-deacon can render High Mass a little too theatrical and “puffed up”.

3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.

I personally, like to hear it sometimes, it is such a rich and beautiful thing.

4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.

Yes, yes, yes….

5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.

Now put this into practice versus populum in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Make the Ordinary beautiful, she ain’t no ugly sister.

6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.


7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.

How about some holy humility too? Domine non sum dignus, isn’t coming through here.

8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.

So can the humble pew sitters, so ought the humble pew sitters…

9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.

How can you tell? You’re transfixed in the Mass and you have your back to them. What about the odd assortment of random kneelers, sitters and the confused? What about the Missal russlers, the response whisperers and the mantilla fiddlers? And even when the congregation comprises of little miss and mr perfect, can we not be tinged with hubris and esotericism?

10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention and devotion.

We all desire this. But we ought to desire it both ad orientem and versus populum.

Pre-fisk H-T to Joseph Shaw, who is quoting Fr Mark Kirby courtesy of the Rorate Caeli blog.


Autumn said...

I find myself nodding at all the points in your post, Rita :)
A xx

Robert said...

I, too, find myself nodding at your points. I had read the original on Fr. Z's blog, and thought it was good, but you make good points. Thanks for making us think about it a little more deeply.