Friday, June 5, 2015

TELL ME NOW, JUST WHAT IS WRONG WITH AD ORIENTEM?

POPE FRANCIS CELEBRATES BENEDICTION OF THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT WITH HIS BACK TURNED ON THE CONGREGATION! HOMILY FOR CORPUS CHRISTI MASS BELOW:


In the Last Supper, Jesus gives His Body and his Blood by means of the bread and the wine, to leave us the memorial of His sacrifice of infinite love. With this viaticum full to overflowing with grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, to extend the kingdom of God to everyone. Light and strength will be for them the gift that Jesus made of Himself, sacrificing Himself voluntarily on the Cross. This Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church is in unending awe before this reality – an awe that endlessly nourishes contemplation, adoration, memory. This is seen in a beautiful text of today’s Liturgy, the Responsory of the second reading of the Office of Readings, which says: “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from His side. Take His body, then, and eat it; take His blood and drink it, and you will become His members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness.”

We ask ourselves what it means today, to be torn from Him, to despair – as cowards – of our sinfulness [what is this cowardliness – svilirci – of which Christ speaks to us through the Church at prayer]?

We are torn from Him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, when we find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. The Eucharist allows us to be not torn from Him, for it is the bond of communion, is the fulfillment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and annihilated Himself for us, that we might remain united. By participating in the Eucharist and by feeding on it, we are inserted into a way that does not admit divisions. The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life.

And what it means for us today “svilirci” – to be cowardly, to despair of our sinfulness, that is, to let our Christian dignity be watered down, [or to adulterate it ourselves]? It means to let ourselves be affected by the idolatries of our time: appearance, consumption, the self at the center of everything; but also being competitive, arrogance as the winning attitude, the idea that one never need admit to a mistake or to find oneself in need. All this demeans us, makes us mediocre, lukewarm, insipid Christians.

Jesus shed his blood as a ransom and as a lavacrum – a cleansing agent, that we might be purified of all sins:  in order that we fall not into cowardice, despair of sinfulness, that we not become weak, let us look to him, let us drink deep draughts from His source, that we might be preserved from the risk of corruption. Then shall we experience the grace of a transformation: we will remain always poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ will deliver us from our sins and give us back our dignity. Without merit of our own, with sincere humility, we can bring to our brethren the love of our Lord and Savior. We will be His eyes that go in search of Zacchaeus and of the Magdalene; we will be His hand who helps the sick in body and spirit; we will be His heart that loves those in need of reconciliation and understanding.

Thus does the Eucharist make present the Covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in marvelous communion with God.

Today, the feast of Corpus Domini, we have the joy not only of celebrating this mystery, but also of praising Him and singing in the streets of our city. May the procession we will make at the end of the Mass, express our gratitude for all the journey that God has allowed us to make through  the desert of our poverty, to take us out of slavery, by nourishing us with His love through the Sacrament of his Body and the Blood.

In a little while we shall walk along the way, let us perceive ourselves in communion with our many brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel ourselves united with them, let us sing with them, praise with them, adore with them. And we venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters from whom the sacrifice of their lives has been required for fidelity to Christ: let their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.

37 comments:

Julian Barkin said...

2 answers to your answer your question: 1) Pride. ME ME ME! I AM THE FOCUS OF THE LITURGY!!!
2) ad orientem = turning your back rudely to the people.

Lefebvrian said...

It amazes me that people would say that ad orientem is rude because it is turning the priest's back on the people -- do they seriously fail to recognize the One to whom the priest is turning his back in a versus populum arrangement?

Julian Barkin said...

Obviously, I was just stating the obvious and what people generally are miseducated to think. No way do I believe such reasoning. But yes, they DO fail to recognize this ... or don't want to recognize that at all in their bliss and arrogance as sheeple. I think the majority of laity though are just not educated in this and have been misled.

Lefebvrian said...

You're absolutely right, Julian. Most people probably don't give it a second thought, and the priests and bishops don't discuss it for whatever reason. Even if the people came to desire properly oriented worship, they cannot force their priests and bishops to comply.

Dialogue said...

What is the possible bad consequence of ad orientem in the OF? Priests and laymen alike are horrified by the prospect, but I've never heard a well-reasoned description of what consequences they fear will occur.

Anonymous said...

Many people, it seems, think that God is "here" or "there," that his presence is limited by some directional indicator.

The God I worship is omnipresent and is not "offended" if I am not always facing in His "direction."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree about omnipresent, but in Liturgical prayer there is a direction and focus albeit symbolic.

jolly jansenist said...

Anonymous, the Mass is not for God, it is for us…the direction and focus matter because they are a reflection of how we view ourselves before Him.

Dialogue said...

Our Heavenly Father is certainly not offended by the versus populum posture. It's just a question of finding which posture helps us best participate in Christ's Sacrifice to His Father.

And the Mass most certainly is Christ's gift of us and Himself to Our Father. (Does Jolly think Christ sacrifices Himself to us?).

George said...

Anonymous:

God is indeed everywhere because He sustains existence. However, water vapor is likewise everywhere in the air around us. We would die of thirst however, if we did not orient toward and proceed to where we could partake of it in concentrated form.

Likewise, if we are outside on a cold day and the sun is shining, to get whatever warmth we can from it, we orient ourselves toward it, and put ourselves as much and fully in its presence as we can so as to avail ourselves of the benefit it offers.

Where there is the water of Christ’s love, that is where those are drawn who have a thirst for acquiring holiness.

Where there is the light of Christ’s presence, that is where those are drawn who desire to avoid the darkness of sin.

Anonymous said...

The focus of the Mass is the Altar of Sacrifice, as the focus at Calvary was the cross. We "view" the Real Presence on the altar as did the few who remained with Jesus.

Lefebvrian said...

Ad orientem.

It is tradition. Seek no further.

There is no legitimate argument for versus populum, as 2,000 years of uninterrupted liturgical tradition attests.

Anonymous 2 said...

Now I am absolutely no expert and so I need to be instructed why these two articles from Wikipedia (which I assume have been vetted many times by those with the greatest interest in this topic) seem to tell a very different and much more complicated story than ad orientem being “2000 years of uninterrupted liturgical tradition.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_orientem

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Versus_populum

They may be quite incorrect but if so could someone please cite to relevant authority on the liturgical practice. Thanks

John Nolan said...

This is Benediction, not Mass. The priest faces the people when he blesses them with the monstrance; otherwise he and they collectively adore the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. it's not a 'celebration' so the arguments pro and con 'versus populum' don't apply.

Dialogue said...

Anonymous 2,

I've just visited both sites you mention. They both seem accurate, and I'm not sure what complications you're perceiving.

As for authoritative sources, Lang's "Turning Towards The Lord" has a preface written by Cardinal Ratzinger (written just months before his election), and Ratzinger's own discussion of the topic can be found at: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2006/ratzinger_altareast_jan06.asp

We've discussed this topic at considerable length on this blog over the years, so you can also find plenty of sources cited during these discussions.

Dialogue said...

John Nolan makes a good point. Our center of attention during Benediction is on Christ, while during Mass Christ focuses our attention on our Heavenly Father. There's no need for a symbolic direction of prayer when we are adoring the Substance of God.

Even during Mass when the priest addresses the Eucharistic Prayer to the Father, the congregation speaks to Christ in the Mysterium Fidei Acclamation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think ad orientem for the priest is quite appropriate for the Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament before the actual benediction. In reality, the Holy Father could have had his kneeler placed on the other side of the altar facing the congregation and simply approached the altar from the normal position when celebrating Mass facing the congregation.

There is something to be said of the priest leading the congregation in prayer and sacrifice at Mass or in other liturgical settings apart from Mass, like Adoration, by joining the congregation in facing the same way.

Obviously for the actual Benediction, as with any blessing, the priest would turn and face the congregation just as he does for the Ecce Agnus Dei and Orate Fratres, as at these times the blessing or spoken communication is directed to the congregation and not to God.

John Nolan said...

Fr AJM,

The Holy Father was NOT celebrating Mass or anything else. Have you ever seen Benediction with the priest between the altar and the monstrance? No, you haven't and neither have I.

Actually I remember in the 1970s American progressives decrying Eucharistic adoration as 'cookie worship'. It would be about the same time as you were in seminary.

Anonymous 2 said...

Dialogue,

Thank you for the link, which is instructive and does indeed seem consistent with the Wikipedia articles. The complication to which I was referring is that there is nothing per se inappropriate or non-traditional about facing the people or versus populum. Sometimes this was necessary to be able to face towards the East and sometimes for other reasons of Church design. So, descriptive statements such as ad orientem being “2000 years of uninterrupted liturgical tradition” seem too sweeping, whether ad orientem is understood to mean towards the East or away from the people. And normative positions that the priest must face ad orientem in the sense of away from the people also seem too extreme. Both seem to miss the central point that what is truly important is an_interior_ad orientem disposition whatever the external orientations may be. In other words, a focus on the miracle taking place on the altar, with or without the assistance of a cross on the altar, would seem to be the key and this should also be possible when the priest celebrates versus populum.

More fundamentally, then, both also seem to miss the even more crucial point, which I have mentioned several times before, that our basic problem is metaphysical, and it will not be solved by altering the orientation of the priest. Instead the Church needs to challenge our whole concept of reality based on mere perception of externals. Good luck with that in the Era of Modernity and the competing “miracles” of modern science and technology rooted in the combination of empirical observation and human reason. I do have hope from postmodern science, however, which is problematizing many of the naïve assumptions of modern science.

I find it odd that those who champion ad orientem in the name of humility before God are very often those who seem to disapprove of challenges to the human hubris manifested in the excesses of modern science and technology when those challenges take the form, for example, of expressed concerns about global warming and the environment. They seem to be just as ensnared by politics and ideology as many of those they oppose on this point, as we will doubtless see when Pope Francis issues his encyclical on the subject.


jolly jansenist said...


Anon 2, Global warming is not science. It is a manifestation of cultural hysteria brought about by a cultural narcissism which has, in turn, been brought about by a loss of the Faith and the belief that man, through humanistic means, must bring about heaven on earth through Utopian schemes, usually Marxist. As evidence against global warming mounts, the hand-wringers have re-designated it "climate change," just in case we actually face global cooling. That way, they can swing in either direction with their doom saying. Humility before God has nothing to do with humanism, secularism, or politics. Now, I will be the first to agree with you regarding the excesses of modern science and technology, but global warming is a huge red herring. Oh, I'm betting the Pope's encyclical on global warming will be the most politicized, ant- Capitalist, Leftist document imaginable.

Dialogue said...

Anonymous 2,

We in the West must be careful not to fall too far into the trap of reducing worship to an intellectual exercise. Science itself shows that the intellect plays only a minor role in human decision making, and the Sacred Liturgy has always maintained a proper balance between the intellect and the emotions.

As far as the action on the altar is concerned, it's important to remember that all that action is directed towards our Heavenly Father. Therefore, the "uninterrupted tradition" directs our attention away from the altar and towards the Father Who receives the Sacrifice. The altar, like the Cross, is not a dead end, but a starting point orienting us towards Heaven.

Anonymous said...

What makes me think that, no matter what Pope Francis writes in Laudato Sii, Gensenist will find it political, anti-Capitalist, and Leftist...?

jolly jansenist said...

Gee, I don't know…let's see….I wonder...

Anonymous 2 said...

JJ:

I am not interested in what political or ideological “spin” has to say about climate change. I am very interested in what science has to say about it. Whether our previous hubristic misuses of science and technology (as opposed to our proper uses of science and technology) will have taught us that science is a God-given instrument (God-given because our senses and out reason are God-given) to be used wisely with proper humility before our Creator is a different question.

As to what science does say about it, here again are probably the most unbiased sources, from Wikipedia. I have not yet waded through all the details but the main thrust is clear. Please tell us why it is all wrong:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change




John Nolan said...

In fact the agenda based on the unproven hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change is being pushed by the affluent capitalist West at the expense of poorer countries. China, the only remaining Communist country of any significance, will have nothing to do with it.

George said...

Anonymous2

As John Nolan says, anthropogenic climate change is an unproven hypothesis. Some of the most telling research (and data from it) is that which has looked back at when homo sapiens had either no presence on the earth or an insignificant one. Everything seems to be wrapped up in climate change being "man made". The issue is not climate change per se. There has always been climate change of one degree or another. How significant is the contribution of human activity to this change? I don't know if climate change has been connected by anyone to the current drought in California, but we now know from data that the area that comprises the Golden state had periods of much worse droughts way back in its history. There is a lot of pressure on scientists, both as far as funding for research and academic reputation, to go with the flow. So whatever confirms the hypothesis(or seems to) is promulgated and anything that doesn't is discounted. Not everyone in the scientific community is buying this though.

Anonymous 2 said...

John:

Given the history of Communist countries, the attitude of China should be given the weight it deserves. On the other hand, you raise very important issues of global justice that must be addressed. Today China -- tomorrow India etc.

George:

Clearly there are also natural variations in climate. Indeed, on the assumption that global warming is real and on the further assumption that it is predominantly or even exclusively due to natural causes, we would still have to decide whether and how we should adapt to the changes.

But the real issue, as you suggest, is whether the rate and degree of climate change is in fact subject human control and, to the extent it is, whether and how we should not only adapt to the changes but modify them.

Is the situation extraordinarily complex, with multiple factors and imperfect evidence? Yes, of course. Here are two thoughts about this:

(1) We should be neither Pollyanna nor Chicken Little. And we should try to generate and rely upon analysis and evidence that are as unbiased as possible. And if the overwhelming consensus regarding climate change reflects some bias, it is naïve to suggest that there is no bias on the other side -- which brings me to the second point:

(2) How do you, John Nolan, and JJ and others of a similar mind suggest we should proceed?


rcg said...

Nolan hits on a sore point re: global warming: if we assume there is global warming the current trajectory of policy does not take steps to help any, especially the poorer countries, survive it. The current theories have it worsening regardless of human action for quite some time; 50 to 100 years. Allowing the system to coast back to normal for so long without steps to help countries with fewer creative economic resources is irresponsible. That concern is not moot, if the actual factors causing global warming are natural instead of man made. But in either case the status quo needs to retain control and frustrate new solutions and trade for poorer countries. An example of this the obsession with carbon foot prints for goods imported from developing countries. What is the net carbon dwficit for aid, famine, and war if they have no economic trade?

jolly jansenist said...

We could proceed in two ways…1. Completely ignore all the nonsense talk and hysteria about "global warming" and get on with our lives. 2. If we really want to get serious about environmental issues, we should quit beating ourselves up here in the US and begin serious sanctions and actions against Third World and Asian countries who are destroying rain forests, polluting the oceans, over-fishing, exporting sub-standard food products to the rest of the world, and still dumping crap into the air. We might also want to consider quitting the idealization of the "poor" in this country who are some of the worst polluters, from dumping illegally, driving sub-standard, polluting cars, throwing stuff out of car windows, trashing cities and neighborhoods, and "polluting" the values of the country by violence, law-breaking, and just general sorriness. We could end mental pollution by abolishing television, starting with the news, which (Left or Right) is nothing but disinformation and propaganda that supports all of the above. How's that for starters?

Dialogue said...

I'm in favor of global warming.

Anonymous 2 said...

JJ:

Fox Mulder of X-Files fame had the definitive answer to your hysteria point and why your option 1 is not really an option: “Just because I’m paranoid does not mean they aren’t out to get me.” Regarding your second option, well, yes, a comprehensive, holistic response would be sensible, although we can argue over the precise details, including how to resolve the global justice related tension between your position and rcg’s, as it is worked out.

jolly jansenist said...

Dialogue, if we hug enough trees, maybe the warmth from our bodies would enter the trees and raise their temperatures, thus speeding up the Krebs cycle and, perhaps, lead to an unforeseen global cooling based upon some as yet undiscovered dynamic brought about by the warmth and love of humans going into trees. Perhaps we could even discover some way to make love to trees as alluded to in that disgusting poem "Trees," which was actually set to music, with such wonderful mixed metaphor and other poetic crimes such as, "…a tree whose hungry mouth is pressed/Against the earth's sweet flowing breast." Now, there's just some downright Sierra Club porno right there...

jolly jansenist said...

I just read that it has been discovered that the oceans are a much larger source of greenhouse gases than previously thought. I guess we have to drain the oceans now. Damn, and I was all set to enjoy my white privilege for a week at my condo on Hilton Head...

Anonymous 2 said...

JJ:

If I understand correctly, the greenhouse gas in question is nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, and run off from human agricultural activity is the culprit, which is no laughing matter:

http://mitei.mit.edu/news/study-ocean-source-greenhouse-gas-has-been-underestimated

George said...

Jolly Jansenist and rcg touch on two important aspects of man's impact on the earth (whatever effect it may or may not have on the climate). Third world countries and China, India and Brazil are where the greatest damage to the environment is being inflicted. The US, Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan have over the last thirty years put into place measures which have resulted in a substantial reduction in pollutants and environmental damage. The issue for us in the first world is, what to do about pollution in the less-developed countries which lack the technical resources and financial means to address the problem.

jolly jansenist said...

Anon 2, if all this laughing gas is escaping into the atmosphere, why isn't everything funnier?

Flavius Hesychius said...

I don't know Jansenist, these days the West is looking like a parody of itself. Maybe things are getting funnier.

I'm agnostic about the climate issue. On the one hand, I'm not sure it doesn't exist, but on the other, I've heard so much nonsense come from its 'believers' it's almost like hearing the evangelical rapture prophets...

THE END DAYS ARE UPON US! CHRIST TO RETURN SOON! REPENT!

except...

THE END DAYS ARE UPON US! ICE CAPS TO MELT SOON! REPENT!