desniza (desniza) wrote in theologia,

Pope faces the East and the Cross and turns back on congregation in old Mass ritual January 13, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his face looked up the East and the Cross and his back turned on the congregation, re-introducing an old ritual that had not been used in decades.

The Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar set right against the wall under Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment, instead of the altar placed on a mobile platform that allowed his predecessor John Paul II to face the faithful.

A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectonic jewel."

That meant that for the first time in this kind of celebration since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Pope turned his back on the faithful and faced the East and the Cross. He also read his homily from an old wooden throne on the left of the altar used by Pius IX in the 19th century.

The Pontiff is slowly reintroducing some of the old rituals phased out after Vatican II, which substituted Latin for local languages, modernized the Church and encouraged inter-religious dialogue.

In July, the Pope issued a decree allowing wider use of the old Latin Mass, in what was regarded as a nod to Church traditionalists. He has also said he would like the centuries-old Gregorian chant to make a comeback.

During Sunday's mass commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, which was celebrated in Italian, the Pope baptized 13 babies, carefully pouring water on their heads from a golden shell.

He spoke about the significance of baptism, which marks the admission of a person in the community of Christians.

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A number of corrections:

" re-introducing an old ritual that had not been used in decades."

This is a misinterpretation, it says nowhere in the Missal of Paul VI that the priest HAS to celebrate 'ad populum' , it's just nearly always done. But it's not - liturgically speaking - an ' old ritual'.

There are actually several places in the latin rubrics of the Missale Romanum of Paul VI where the priest is explicitly directed to face the altar during the celebration. Now, I will not go as far as some ad orientem apologists and say the rubrics presume such a celebration. In point of fact, the rubrics are somewhat vague, save for paritcular mentions of the orientation of the priest in relationship to the altar and congregation.
Sorry, not out to piss anyone off or anything, but, I really do not like the new pope, it's as if he is trying to turn everything back, to change back to the way it was before vatican 2 and well, that is not so good! I think he should try to work for innovation and renovation, not for going back in time!
There is value in the old ways, they are too little respected in this society that worships youth and 'progress'. We often do not understand the old ways, their depth, their purpose, and so we write them off and substitute them with ways that better please our current sensibilities. Learn to love tradition - but do feel free to ask 'why'?
Oh no, no, I love tradition, and I think it is great that there are traditions and that people do something that we have done for centuries (or how ever long time, depends what it's about, of course). What I mean though is that certain things, such as this turning away from the congregation, is a tradition that, in my view, could be left in the past. But, of course we should not forget other tradition, such as what has been said and done by the saints or the early church fathers and mothers and that type of thing, those things are important. I think though that turning away from the people with whom one is celebrating mass is not a good idea, BUT, of course, people can do as they wish, but, I guess what I wish is that this was a choice, I have a feeling now that if the pope starts to do this then everyone else is going to want to do it too, or think they must. BUT, that is maybe a choice of the individual priest? And, in no way is everything new always good, there are lots of "innovative" stuff in today's society that I think stinks, things that were much better in the old times.

Thanks for the reply, and I am so glad to read your comments.

I think this is better looked at, not as 'turning away' (from his congregation) but rather a turning *towards* God, as a member of God's People. It emphasizes the fact that he is, like us, dependant on God. That he is *one of* the faithful and equal with us before God, since we all depend on and look to the Father.
Thank you, you are so kind to say that you like my comments, its nice to read your comments too. Well, now that you put it that way, I understand it better! I thought it was because he was considered (or he considered himself) better than the rest of us, but, you are right that both the priest and the congregation are dependent on God :) Thanks for your messsage! :)