Sunday, January 12, 2014



John Nolan commented on my previous post HERE: "Benedict first celebrated ad apsidem in the Sistine Chapel in January 2008, not long after Guido Marini became MC. The explanation given was that it that it respected the "beauty and harmony of this architectural jewel".

I suspect that Francis puts ideology above beauty and harmony, and with recent changes in the office of liturgical celebrations which have left Guido Marini dangerously isolated, I will wager a pound to a penny that the moveable altar will be used on Sunday."

And of course there were other naysayers at my other post where I clearly stated that my clairvoyance foresaw what in fact occurred today! You can read that HERE, along with those naysayers' comments. Do I feel vindicated in my clairvoyance? Well, YES!

Okay, for those who wagered any bets opposed to my clairvoyance in this, should now pay up!

This is truly good news and certainly ties in with Pope Francis' homily on Saturday at the chapel of his residence at the Vatican Motel 6 where he castigated priests who are vain and act like butterflies. It is difficult to do so at Mass when the priest celebrates ad orientem!

This will send shock waves across the world! Progressives who want a "McDonald's Happy Meal" for the Mass will be truly disappointed. And yes, at another blog, someone commented in all seriousness that a good American inculturation at the Mass would be for everyone to "high-5" each other at the Sign of Peace! This is certainly a resurgence of the "spirit of Vatican II" silliness that many are hoping to recover under Pope Francis. Hopefully today's ad orientem Mass by His Holiness, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, will pour ice water on that nonsense. Of course another form of American inculturation that one might see at these happy clappy Masses is a cooler of ice water poured upon the "Presider" or "President" of the Assembly after he has successfully celebrated a spirit of Vatican II type Mass! That would be cool! :)

Here's the video folks, moving pictures don't lie. As soon as photos are available, my masthead photo at the top of the blog will change!

This photo of course is from Pope Benedict, but ad orientem it might as well be Pope Francis or any priest in the world, it doesn't matter when it is this way!
By the way, Pope Francis wears the same chasuble as Pope Benedict wore in the above photo at today's Ad Orientem Mass at the historic altar in the Sistine Chapel! It doesn't get any better than this folks!


Joseph Johnson said...

Praise God!

This more firmly establishes the Benedictine precedent of ad orientem Masses in the Sistine Chapel. Hopefully, the moveable Ikea altar is now, permanently, retired.

Now that even Pope Francis has used the historic altar maybe this will be a signal to bishops that the days of "updating" (or wreckovating) older churches by putting in table altars in front of historic ones is over.

It was not covered on this blog, but I read recently on another blog that Cardinal Dolan had the front table altar removed from St. Patrick's Cathedral and the other, older (1942), freestanding altar (which sits further back, under a baldacchino) will again be used as the main altar. This same thing had also been done by Archbishop (soon Cardinal) Vincent Nichols in London.

Now, when will this happen in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia? In the New York and London cases, the older altars were older freestanding ones under baldacchinos but the one in the Sistine is against the wall of the apse. So, what about the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and other older churches in our Diocese? I'm sure that the nicer, more recent, front altars (which could also be removed) could still find good use in newer smaller parishes. . .

Anonymous said...

And what does this prove? Nothing. For the last 10 months this pope has gone out of his way to show contempt for traditional liturgical practices. He has called traditionally minded Catholics nasty names and is making an example out of a thriving religious order in order to get his point across to others of like mind Just because he said Mass towards liturgical East means nothing. Tomorrow he will say something questionable and the clarifications start all over again.

John Nolan said...

Well, I've lost my wager and will be sending a cheque to a deserving cause. I admit to being surprised, and Guido Marini looked as pleased as Punch. Pope Francis also used the Benedict XVI ferula.

In Westminster Cathedral the high altar was always free-standing but there was little room behind it, since Mass versus populum was not envisaged in 1903. Still, ++Vincent used it for his installation Mass and prior to Pope Benedict's visit in 2010 the low wall behind it (which has the gradines for the cross and candlesticks) was moved back to create more space. So Mass can be celebrated in either orientation without having to move anything. So far, ad orientem is only used for the occasional EF Mass, but it would make sense to do so for the Solemn Mass on Sundays.

Henry said...

"prior to Pope Benedict's visit in 2010 the low wall behind it (which has the gradines for the cross and candlesticks) was moved back to create more space."

Allegedly, this was done at an expense of tens of thousands of pounds, for fear--on the part of Westminster chancery denizens--that otherwise all Britain would be subjected to the confusing spectacle of Benedict forced to celebrate Mass there ad orientem. (Re "confusing", I recall the reason originally given for the prohibition of EWTN's televised daily Mass being ad orientem--that this would "confuse" the faithful out there in TV land. Presumably, they could not understand what was happening. Perhaps it would make them think that a sacrifice was being offered, or some such thing.)

Anonymous said...

Agreed, nice gesture but in the end it was not the EF, and the Franciscans of The Immaculate are still being destoyed because of their preferance for the EF.

Anon friend said...

Interesting, too, that this all took place for you during the "hour of mercy" at 3 am this morning, Father. God is good...!

George said...

St. Thomas Aquinas : The baptism of John was not a sacrament of itself, but a certain sacramental as it were, preparing the way or the baptism of Christ."

Jesus was baptized and this signified that John's baptism of penance which could not confer grace would thereby be ransformed by Christ into a baptism of sanctification through the Holy Spirit -our sacrament of initiation and adoption,as heirs to the Kingdom of God.

Christ suffered and died for our salvation and in doing so, he transformed and gave spiritual value and merit to our own suffering and death.

He arose on the third day in His glorified humanity and by doing so made it possible that those of us meriting Divine life would also one day be glorified in our risen humanity.

It is God the Father's just will and design that all good things come to us by way of the Holy Spirit through Christ, our Sanctifier and Redeemer. It is by way of Christ that the Blessed Virgin is an instrument in administering and distributing grace to us.

Christ in His humanity is the archtype, the unique distinguished exemplar to whom we are to to be formed and conform.

St Paul:
“And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Jesus, who Himself was begotten as the first fruit of the father.

From the Gospel of James:"Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruit of His creatures”.

Rood Screen said...

Even more of this ad orientem worship would help Pope Francis promote clerical humility in the Western Church.

This seems to prove that Pope Francis is not absolutely opposed to the ancient orientation of liturgical prayer. That is something.

Rood Screen said...

Granted, Fr. McDonald would look for a silver lining in the middle of a tornado, but there's something refreshing about his hopefulness. If our trust is in the Lord, then we should remain hopeful, even in the worst of times. In fact, it is in the worst of times that we need this hope the most.

Pater Ignotus said...

The old altar at the cathedral in Savannah does not allow for mass to be celebrated facing the people. Therefore, the free standing altar installed in the renovations of 1998-2000 will not be removed. Nor should it be since mass facing the people is, properly, the norm in 100% of the churches in our diocese.

This new altar is as worthy, artistically, as any other structural element in our cathedral. The deep relief carvings on the base are duplicates of those on the old altar, made from, I think, plastic casts of the originals.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

99.9% of parishes. We have one OF Mass ad orientem each Sunday. Agree about cathedrals altar except it sin' up enough steps and the Ambo is way out of proportion in size. I much preferred the previous marble Ambo that was there in my day!

Joseph Johnson said...

I agree that the front altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah is a very nice altar with nice detailing. The same can be said of other recently made free-standing stone altars.

The altar in the Sistine Chapel also does not allow for Mass to be celebrated facing the people (so what?). Does that mean that an architecturally harmonious stone altar should also be installed there to "remedy" this "problem"?

I agree with Fr.JBS that reintroducing more celebrations of the Mass (OF) would have a positive effect on clergy (and laity, if they are properly catechized). In other words, maybe the "norm" of Mass facing the people has been a problem which merits serious reconsideration.

I'm sorry, ever since my epiphany 20 years ago with the EF Mass I have, ever since, had a very hard time understanding why the Church has largely abandoned the centuries old tradition of ad orientem celebration. Ever since that time, I have found myself having to concentrate more on the unseen Reality of the Mass as the visible (external) parts (in a "normative" parish OF Mass) often seem to distract (or detract) from the Reality.

While I love the EF form of the Mass, what's wrong with a vernacular OF Mass with chanted Propers celebrated ad orientem. Is that SO radical?

hopeful said...

Now all we need is for Pope Francis to replace Bugnini's novus ordo with the 1965 vernacular revision of the 1962 order in the OF Missal, using his arguments that "careerist priests" and "monster priests" have abused the novus ordo for far too long to feed thier egos, and made the novus ordo itself an object of false worship with all the innovations and options.

Henry said...

Ad orientem is not an OF vs EF issue. Either can be celebrated either way.

But it's a more important issue for the OF. Certainly, the OF can be celebrated versus populum in a completely appropriate and holy way. However, with the current generation of priests ordained in the 1970s and 1980s, the odds are against it. The temptations for aberrations to which they are susceptible are just too great when facing the people rather than focusing solely on God, and sliding in to the ditch apparently is almost inevitable in most parishes.

As a practical matter in the present climate, ad orientem celebration seems the first and perhaps necessary step toward a general elimination of the abuses that have plagued the OF. In every instance I've personally seen, ad orientem celebration has inspired priest and people both to a more intense and prayerful participation in the liturgy, and has led to other changes in the same direction. For instance, more people realizing that communion on the tongue while kneeling is more appropriate to recognition of the Real Presence.

rubyroad said...

I agree with the negatives. And he STILL does not genuflect.

Pater Ignotus said...

No, Good Father, mass facing the people is the norm in 100% of the parishes in our diosese. Your one ad oriented OF mass is not the norm for your parish, the diocese, or the church universal.

Православный физик said...

Rubyroad, this issue was addressed in the comments in a different, the Holy Father is unable to genuflect without major aid, it is not an intent to dis-respect the rubrics of Holy Mass (unlike Holy Thursday fiasco, which I can't defend)...there are videos of him genuflecting

at the 20:40-21:40 mark (bear with the horrible music) you'll see the future Pope Francis genuflecting to both species....ergo, the Holy Father bowing at both species is simply a matter of him not being able to properly genuflect anymore and not a disrespect to the rubrics of Holy Mother Church.

As for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I'm glad it was celebrated using the original altar. I don't really think it says anything though. I tend to think the Holy Father is liturgically indifferent...(i.e. use whatever option is there). I'll most definitely give you credit father for calling this.

I'm certainly not buying complete continuity between the Pontificates of Francis and Benedict XVI...But this is most certainly a good thing,

John Nolan said...

When the Oratorians took over St Aloysius church in Oxford in the early 1990s they inherited an altar which had been moved forward, and so they celebrated OF Masses VP. (There is a sufficiently deep footpace in front of the altar so EF Masses could be celebrated AO). A couple of years ago they decided to celebrate the principal Sunday Mass (which is Solemn Latin OF) also AO. This brings them into line with London and Birmingham whose high altars were never moved.

When the Archbishop of Birmingham celebrated Mass there last year he respected this, and was also provided with an AP, bugia-bearer, and deacons at the throne, something he doesn't get in his own cathedral.

The Ordinariate celebrate AO, although a lot of Anglican parishes turned their altars round in the 1960s and 1970s. I was told by a young (Catholic) priest that most of his contemporaries disliked facing the congregation the whole time. The reason why diehards like PI will never celebrate in the time-honoured fashion is that they might have to stop being 'presiders' and start being priests.

The logic of the Novus Ordo (and indeed its rubrics) implies that the LOTW should be VP and the LOTE should be AO.

Rood Screen said...

Pater Ignotus makes a technically correct observation. But, was there not a time when the other way was the norm? Why was it changed, without any mandate from Rome to do so?

Henry said...

"But, was there not a time when the other way [ad orientem] was the norm?"

Well, yes, a time that lasted about 19 centuries, until the Church in the late 20th century succumbed temporarily to a return of the forces that fueled the anti-Catholic revolution in the 16th century, but now in the 21st century is beginning to recover as the benighted generation responsible is passing from the scene.

Pater Ignotus said...

Our Dear Fr JBS - My observation is not just "technically" correct, it is simply correct.

Good Father McDonald, on the other hand, was incorrect when he mis-read, intentionally or not, what I wrote.

100% does not describe the masses being celebrated, but which mass is the norm in this diocese.

In this diocese, the norm in 100% of the parish is mass facing the people.

John Nolan said...


The orientation was changed because the more extreme wing of the 20th century Liturgical Movement wanted it so, and since it was this element that dominated the Consilium from 1964 onwards, it was imposed volens nolens. It was partly because of an antiquarian view of early liturgical practice which has now been discredited; but more importantly it was a reflection of a new theology or ecclesiology of the Mass, in which the faithful 'celebrated' and the priest 'presided'(v. Inter Oecumenici, Oct. 1964). This was carried forward into the Novus Ordo, and although Rome never conceded that the theology behind the Mass had changed since Trent, most advocates of the reform carried on regardless.

Now, a presider must face his audience. He can still lead them in prayer, but the focus is most definitely on him. With a common orientation of priest and people the focus shifts - priest and people focus on the same thing, not one on the other. The idea of the priest "turning his back on the people", still heard in some quarters, is nonsense - one might as well say that an officer leading from the front is "turning his back" on his soldiers.

So whether the forward altar is a dignified fixed one (as in FrAJM's church), a "continental cube" which clashes with the rest of the architecture but is none-the-less fixed, or a moveable gimcrack structure resembling a dining table or ironing-board, is really irrelevant. The problem with the last-named is that if erected in front of a high altar it seems to be giving a clear message that the Mass is no longer a sacrifice.

Pater Ignotus said...

Our Dear Fr. JBS: "Rome never conceded", that the theology underlying the mass changed, but it most certainly did change.

Also, no "concession" from Rome is needed or required for theology to shift one way or another. I would suspect that, in the great majority of cases, significant changes in theology came from places other than Rome.

How does a free-standing altar give a "clear message that the mass is no longer a sacrifice"?

Rood Screen said...

Pater Ignotus,
I don't think I've said what you've quoted me as saying. Yes, there has certainly been recent development in Eucharistic theology, which "Rome" has encouraged in various ways and with various means.

Henry said...

Eucharistic theology has broadened in certain ways, but I detect no substantial difference in the doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass as the sacrifice of the Cross re-presented and perpetuated through the ages, in comparing the the catechism of Trent and John Paul II's Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003).

So I don't think it's accurate to say that the Church's official theology of the Eucharistic has "changed". Even there are many in the Church whose beliefs have changed, in some instances to heterodox or even heretical beliefs, however widespread these may be at the present time (perhaps as widespread even in clerical and episcopal circles as Arianism once was).

Hence I suspect that one who worships with or finds different beliefs in the OF and the EF departs from actual Church theology in one or the other (or both).

Rood Screen said...

Yes, indeed. It's good for us to remember that theology is not the same thing as doctrine. Theology can provide new ways for us to look at and explain established doctrines.

Pater Ignotus said...

Ecclesiology, anyone? Sacramental (subsection: Baptism), anyone?

There are far more branches of theology that influence and are influence by the mass than just "Eucharistic."

John Nolan said...

I think PI was picking up on my comment rather than FrJBS's. And, as usual, he distorts what I actually said. I didn't say that a free-standing altar gave an indication that the Mass is no longer a sacrifice. I wasn't even referring to those temporary altars that actually look like altars (e.g. the one used in the Sistine Chapel for Francis's first Mass). But on my travels I have seen temporary altars which are deliberately designed to resemble dining-tables, and to anyone with a knowledge of Reformation history this sends a clear message.

The preamble and Chapter I of the GIRM stress that the underlying theology of the Mass has not changed. It can of course be argued that over the centuries certain elements have been allowed to predominate at the expense of others, so correction is right and proper.

If I had evidence that a priest was imposing his own theological views on the Mass, and that these views were at variance with essential nature of the Mass as defined by Trent and endorsed by Vatican II (see GIRM para 2), then I could not in conscience attend such a service. PI's lower-case "masses" may or may not fall into this category, but I would probably avoid them on aesthetic grounds anyway.