Monday, March 14, 2016
THE PRIEST/CELEBRANT/CONCELEBRANT COMMUNION, EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, COMPLETELY NECESSARY BUT APPROPRIATELY MUTED AD ORIENTEM BUT GIVEN TOO MUCH ATTENTION WHEN FACING THE CONGREGATION!
What I truly love about ad orientem is how clear it makes to the congregation that "my sacrifice and yours" is truly prayer directed to God, not a proclamation directed to the congregation in word or gestures! It also keeps those congregational distractions to which the priest is subject from occurring when he can't see what the congregation is doing, such as getting up, fanning themselves, etc. It is more prayerful for me because these distraction that drive me insane are not seen!
However, what I truly appreciate in the ad orientem style is "my Holy Communion" as celebrant, which completes the Sacrifice, is eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ without the congregation gawking at me when I do it. It is private and personal! It is intimate and not showy!
In fact I remember very, very clearly, the first Sunday we witnessed Mass facing the people how many people complained about how off-putting it was to watch the priest eat the Body and Blood of Christ and chew the Host, especially since the laity were told not to do it. He looked like a cow chewing cud! It placed way, way too much emphasis on his Holy Communion, as important and necessary it is, unlike the ad orientem way of the priest receiving! It looked horrible and in bad taste and bad manners to eat by himself facing the congregation!
In the OF Mass, together with the congregation, I say the "Lord I am not worthy" once (O how I look forward to the inevitable option of saying it three times one day with the congregation!) after I have said my private preparation prayers during the Agnus Dei, then I kiss the altar and turn to the congregation with fractured Host raised over the Chalice and I proclaim appropriately to the congregation, "Behold the Lamb of God...." with our response. Then I turn back to the altar to complete the Sacrifice discretely without all eyes on me watching me eat and drink the Precious Body and Blood of my Lord!
In the EF Mass, I appreciate the fact that the priest's role is exalted but in no way is it clericalism. There is the double Confieteor for the private prayers at the Foot of the Altar (as the Introit is chanted by schola and congregation). Then at Communion time, the priest has his own triple "Lord, I am not worthy...". Then after this, he communes discretely, simply, and without all eyes on him. Then he genuflects and turns to the congregation with a "laity's" Host raised over the ciborium of Hosts for the Ecce Agnus Dei and their triple, "Lord I am not worthy..." and then the priest(s) go directly to distribute to the laity their Holy Communion.
After Vatican II, self-serving, ideological liturgists tried to hijack the priest's essential role at Communion time, in terms of the necessity of his Holy Communion first to conclude or complete the Sacrifice. They told us priests, and without canonical or doctrinal authority, to allow the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to gather around the altar during the Lamb of God and to give them their host which they held in their hand during its singing so that the priest and the EMHC's could receive the Host together at the same time after the "Lord I am not worthy...". Then the EMHC's would approach the altar for their own chalice and receive from it by self-communicating at the same time as the priest!
Worse yet, was the mandate of some other self-serving, deconstructing, heretical liturgical theologians who told us priests to receive our Holy Communion last, after everyone else in the congregation had received Holy Communion! And to boot, we were told to sit during the distribution of Holy Communion to allow the laity their rightful Baptismal priesthood to shine brilliantly as they distributed Holy Communion to their own!
Bottom line, I like both legitimate forms of how the priest is mandated to complete the Holy Sacrifice in the EF or OF and especially so when ad orientem which while upholding the priest's Holy Communion as essential to the validity of the Mass, it is done so discretely, intimately and without fanfare! It is part and parcel of the Latin Rite's noble sobriety when it comes to her liturgies!