(Click on photos once or twice to enlarge)
Or presiding from the Chair for both the Introductory Rite and Concluding Rite:
Instead of the motu proprio (i.e. on his own initiative) Summorum Pontificum, the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, specifying the rules for the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form being offered more widely in parish churches, WHAT IF the Holy Father had simply restored the "ad orientem" style of celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass?
By "ad orientem" we mean facing the Lord or facing the liturgical east. The great basilicas of Rome where the altar is oriented facing the nave of the Church (like St. Peter's, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, St. Paul's Outside the Walls)the priest is actually facing the geographical east which is symbolic of where the Church believes the Risen Lord will return, just as the sun rises.
The Liturgical East normally means that the priest and laity face the same direction toward the apse of the Church (priest having his back to the congregation).
Sometimes I wonder if just reorienting the Mass but keeping it as we have it in the vernacular Ordinary Form wouldn't be the best solution to returning a sense of awe and wonder to its celebration and enabling the priest-celebrant to be more humble and less flamboyant in the manner in which he approaches the celebration of the Mass and its rubrics.
I've suggested this before, but I'll remind you of it again. Without changing any rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Mass except for the following, this is what I would have thought would have been a better motu proprio:
Plan A option:
I. The procession begins with the chanting of the official Introit with the option of adding a metrical hymn if the shorter version of the Introit is chanted by a cantor or schola alone.
II. After arriving at the altar, the priest reverences it in the normal manner and incenses it if incense is used.
III. Then he descends the altar or goes to the foot of the altar and "ad orientem" sings or says the "Sign of the Cross." He briefly turns to the congregation and greets them using one of the official formulas and invites the people to reflect on God's mercy.
IV. Turning back to the altar one of the forms of the Penitential act is used with the absolution. The priest then ascends to the altar for the intoning of the Gloria which is sung with the priest standing at the middle of the altar. Afterwards he moves to the Epistle side and sings or says the Collect.
V. All are seated for the Liturgy of the Word as it is currently celebrated.
VI. After the homily, the priest sits for a few moments of contemplation and then rises and goes to the center of the altar. The Credo is said or spoken and afterwards the priest introduces the General Intercessions and the deacons or another minister reads or chants them and the priest concludes them.
VII. The priest sits again and the collection is taken and the offertory antiphon and another suitable anthem is sung as the altar is prepared which includes the ceremonial moving of the Roman Missal from the Epistle Side of the Altar to the Gospel Side (although in the Ordinary Form of the Mass the Scriptures are not read from these locations).
VIII. The priest receives the offering gifts of money, bread and wine and prepares the bread and wine as usual.
IX. After incensing the gifts and altar, washing his hands, he turns to the congregation for the "Orate Frates" and turns back for the Prayer Over the Offerings, Preface dialogue, Preface and Eucharistic Prayer and Lord's Prayer.
X. He turns to the congregation for "The Peace of the Lord be with you" and the Sign of Peace which is offered soberly.
XI. The lamb of God is intoned, the priest "Breaks the Bread" prepares himself for Holy Communion,then turns to the congregation for the "Behold the Lamb of God" and the "Dominus Non Sum Dignus." Then he turns back to the altar to receive Holy Communion as immediately the Communion Antiphon is chanted and then the Holy Communion Procession begins. Communion is distributed to those kneeling and the option of intinction is highly recommended but not mandated. The people join in singing the refrain to the official Communion Antiphon.
XII. After Holy Communion, the chalices and ciborium are purified,all sit for a time of silent contemplation and the priest returns to the altar for the Prayer after Holy Communion prayed at the Epistle side of the altar. Brief announcements are made and then the blessing and dismissal is offered and the Recessional occurs.
(The choreography of the Altar Servers is as in the EF Mass--they need to be highly regimented and take their ministry very seriously as in the EF Mass--it is possible and necessary to do this!)
Plan B option:
Everything above except after the incensing or reverencing of the altar the priest presides from the Chair for the Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Penitential Act, Gloria and Collect. The Credo and Intercessions are also from the Chair, but beginning with the Preparation of the Altar through the Communion of the Priest, all is ad orientem. After Holy Communion, the Post Communion Prayer, blessing and dismissal are done from the Chair.
So, would my motu proprio have been more advisable than Pope Benedict's? Of course I'm too humble to say "yes" for myself as I blush!