Saturday, October 20, 2012


Powerful excerpts from the Saturday 29 September, 2012, Saint Mary of Victories Church. St Louis MO Public Lecture:
By Most Rev. Peter J. Elliott (Full text follows these important excerpts):

HIS ACTION “Turning Towards the Lord”

However, the hermeneutic of continuity is proclaimed by the actions of Pope Benedict XVI. On the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, 2008, he celebrated Solemn Mass in the Sistine Chapel “facing the altar”. In some circles there were cries of surprise. People had forgotten that the first Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II at the time of his election in 1978 was celebrated facing that same altar! But, as Benedict XVI would remind those with ears to hear, this is not simply a matter of where one faces, rather of “turning towards the Lord”, a spiritual insight we might all ponder when we complain about the “loss of mystery” in the Mass.

His cosmological vision of the Eucharist explains the Pope’s appreciation for celebrating the Eucharist ad orientem, that is, towards the East. Led by the priest, we all turn towards the Light of the risen Lord, reigning in his cosmos and coming again in his parousia. As cardinal he was well aware of the cultural difficulty of appreciating this symbolism today in the secularized Western World. But he did not even consider that ignorant expression we often hear, the priest celebrating Mass “back to the people”. As a cardinal he was not popular for putting that view. He partly challenged the most obvious and prevalent post-conciliar change, one that was also very costly, the almost universal practice of moving altars and celebrating Mass facing the people.

However, he indicates a way to help us “turn to the Lord” whenever Mass is celebrated facing the people. This involves a simple rearrangement of the altar, what some call “Benedictine Altar”. At all papal Masses, the crucifix now stands at the centre, no longer to one side.

It is flanked by candles, of a significant size. In Feast of Faith and The Spirit of the Liturgy he argued that the altar is not a setting to display a man (Pope, bishop or priest). Rather, during the action of the liturgy, the altar itself should draw us around Jesus Christ crucified and risen. This also breaks down that self-centric community trend.Having made this change in the parish where I live, I discovered that once you place the crucifix at the centre of the altar, it becomes visually “an altar”, not just a fine table adorned with some candles and flowers. His advocacy of placing the crucifix at the centre of the altar is also linked to the recovery of the pontifical altar at his Masses in St Peter’s Basilica and elsewhere, that is, using the seven candles of Roman tradition whenever the Diocesan Bishop solemnly celebrates the Eucharist.

Kneeling to Receive the Lord

At Corpus Christi in 2008, at the Papal Mass celebrated before the fa├žade of St John Lateran, the communicants came to the Pope and received the Eucharist kneeling and on the tongue. That is now standard practice at papal Masses. This is the Holy Father’s concrete response, not only to a campaign by some liturgists to eliminate kneeling altogether, but also to correct an abuse of power on the part of some priests. Lay faithful have been rebuked, even refused Communion, for presuming to kneel or not receive in the hand. By affirming the first option, the Pontiff gently corrects those who misuse their authority by taking from people the options the Church allows them.


1 comment:

Daniel P. Volpato said...

Please make this document public at Scribd :)