Saturday, March 19, 2016
WHEN DOCTRINE AND THEOLOGY ARE UNDERMINED BY THE SIGNS USED IN THE LITURGY
Recently Father MJK wrote this comment concerning ad orientem verses the closed circle:
Facing the congregation forms a "circle," if you will, but that does not automatically create a "closed circle" that, by it's nature, excludes God.
The notion of a "closed" circle is something of an oddity it itself, since circles, by definition, are "closed." Other wise you have an arc, not a circle. One might attempt to cast aspersions on a square by calling it a "four-sided square," but, again, that's what a square is. But I digress...
If Christ is the center of the circle - and in our "versus populum" worship, He is - then there is no exclusion of God from the act of worship. When a worshipper looks across the circle, through Christ, he/she sees, first Christ, then the "other." This is, some would say, an overly immanent perception of God, but I would disagree.
In this orientation, I do not see salvation as coming from others, from the community, or from the works we might do, and I don't think others perceive that, either.
I responded with my own comment:
Frmjk, what you say is doctrinally and theologically correct, but it is the sign value of appearances that works against the doctrine or theology, especially with the OF Mass, not so much with the EF Mass (when celebrated facing the congregation). The OF Mass in and of itself needs a reform. I don't suggest that we can ever go back exclusively to the EF Mass, but we can in terms of its vertical experience even if facing the congregation. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis show the way with the central crucifix and traditional altar arrangement. Saying the black and doing the red and not improvising on the words of the Sacred Liturgy is another powerful reform without touching the missal at all. It would be novel for priests to set aside their pride and do what is printed even if they think they have a better way.
I continue to emphasize that the Ordinariate's new missal is what Pope Benedict envisioned for a reform of the current OF Missal. I pray we will get their options from the EF liturgy (not the Anglican additions though). This would be very simple even with the (new and glorious English) translation of the Mass we have (now with the help of God and Pope Benedict).
My ongoing comments: When we celebrate the OF Mass as it is designed to be celebrated, following carefully its GIRM and Rubrics, not to mention its words, we have the same doctrine and dogmas of the Mass as there is in the EF Mass although ceremony and words may differ as well as language and orientation.
Just as Vatican II initiated what the Council Fathers thought would be a minor reform of the 1962 Missal because they felt this reform was necessary, so too can we say that the 2002 Roman Missal needs reform too, not in doctrine or dogma, but in the orientation of the Mass which can be misinterpreted by those who celebrated a "closed circle" Ordinary Form Mass thus misdirecting in "sign" what the emphasis of the Mass in either form is meant to be.
Pope Francis following the lead of his predecessor., Pope Benedict, celebrates the Mass even when facing the congregation in an "ad orientem" sort of way. As well, he has maintained the traditional altar arrangement that Pope Benedict recovered with the six candlesticks and central crucifix. In fact, Pope Francis uses the central crucifix in a more deliberate way than Pope Benedict did. With the lower or smaller crucifix which is more to the eye level of the Holy Father, we see His Holiness actually looking at the crucifix during the Mass, more so than Pope Benedict did. This is very EF!
Thus when Mass actually is celebrated ad orientem or in an ad orientem sort of way when facing the congregation, one knows where prayer is directed (to God not to the congregation) and that the priest and congregation together celebrate the Mass that the Church has given them, not one that they have creatively constructed for their own edification of sorts.
Even concelebrated Mass misplace the emphasis of the Mass onto the concelebrants rather than Christ who is central, not them or their unity or their unity with the bishop when he is the main celebrant.
Look at these two photos. One is a concelebrated Mass with the priests and their bishop. That's nice, but the point of the Mass is not to focus on the role of the various priests to their bishop, as important as that is for a proper ecclesiology, but rather to celebrate the one Sacrifice of Christ in an unbloody way for our salvation. Why be distracted by other things less important, such as the relationship of priests and bishop during the Mass?
Clearly this photo is about Christ and His Sacrifice and our worship of Him, not about the priest or the concelebrants or the ecclesiology of the Church, which while important, are not the emphasis of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: