Thursday, March 29, 2012
COMMENTS FROM TWO PRIESTS, A FORMER NAME CHANGING JESUIT, BIRITUAL PRIEST AND A FORMER EPISCOPAL PRIEST, TURNED RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST, TURNED GREEK CATHOLIC BUT ALLOWED BI-RITUAL FACULTIES IN THE LATIN RITE AND THEIR TAKE ON FATHER ROBERT TAFT AND THE EASTERN RITE, LATIN RITE COMPARISONS
The Former Jesuit, now new name diocesan priest but bi-ritual too:
First of all I couldn't agree more with Taft or your comments. Celebrating in both Rites, Latin and Byzantine, I can't help but note that the Latin Tridentine Mass and the
Divine Liturgy are very different takes on the same reality. There is much more engagement by the deacon and the celebrant with the people in the Byzantine Rite but it is
ritualized engagement. Their personalities are left behind in favor of their ritual roles. Having celebrated the Tridentine Mass, I found it very beautiful but there wasn't
much engagement with the people. Your notion of using the new translation while keeping the chair and the readings as well as the gospel procession would solve, for me, that problem.
Of course the KEY to a more reverent celebration is the altar ad orientem. I believe with you that the revised Mass of Paul VI was an attempt to turn our churches into tasteless home settings
for a celebration which doesn't make sense in large churches and cathedrals. Suddenly we moved from the cathedral to the catacomb: a regression not a development.
The former Episcopal Priest, Russian Orthodox Priest now Greek Catholic Priest, married with bi-ritual faculties in the Latin Rite and his take on Taft and me:
Wonderful suggestions but some nuances are in order. First, the priest facing the altar (notice how it is said) is not because the priest is "praying for the people" but essentially because "we are all facing God (East)" in our sinfulness seeking redemption. The private prayers of the priest in the sanctuary (the Holy Place)are intercessory prayers for the people (including the priest). The icon screen (iconostasis) reveals and obscures IE it reminds us that "we see through a mirror dimly". Divine revelation is not exhaustive nor can we understand it exhaustively. But this is not merely intellectual-it reminds us we are creatures and there is one Creator. Consisting of doors for the processions, the screen is "held up" by the central (Royal) doors that always has the icon of the annunciation. These Royal Doors are "passed through" (Emmanuel)for the reading of the Gospel and administering Communion by the clergy and strictly for a "good" reason. The point here is that even recognized sacred space cannot be abused by clergy. Two more things. There is no kneeling except during Lent and kneeling means lowering to your knees, bending at the waist so your forehead touches the floor (I think the Muslims learned it from Middles Eastern Christians). The recognized position of servant-hood is standing at attention so to speak (the deacon chants several times during the Liturgy "Let us be attentive!)and this true even for receiving Holy Communion. There is no genuflection but bowing (a small prostration). Finally, the Tradition is that the Liturgy is always in the vernacular with some use of Greek, Slavonic or Arabic depending on the cultural origin of the jurisdiction or parish. This is not always followed especially with the Greeks where you will find many parishes using completely Greek or a few Russians using Church Slavonic (these treat the language of their cultural origins like some Westerners treat Latin!). The recognized norm is the vernacular. I think there are many points of connection between East and West. The new English translation of the Roman Missal reminds me of that (syntax!)but I'd be a little careful making too much of a "this for that" comparison. If the law of prayer is the law of belief, then the respective liturgies should reflect and support the theological and mystical emphasis of each "lung of the Church". We shouldn't be afraid of legitimate orthodox diversity.