Wednesday, August 31, 2016


The following article from Lifesite news is your basic reporting on what a particular cardinal said about another cardinal. In this case, Cardinal Burke about Cardinal Sarah and that His Eminence agree with His Eminence on ad orientem.

It is interesting to hear all this duked out in public which tells us of the great polarization going on in the hierarchy and lowerarchy of the Church under the current papacy. The polarization under Pope Benedict was elementary school stuff compared to this. But I digress.

But I do take issue with a basic and common misconception about ad orientem. It is not that the priest and congregation are together facing the tabernacle, in fact, it has nothing to do with it. It is the priest and the laity assuming a common posture and either figuratively or actually facing the east, facing Jerusalem and thus symbolically the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem come down from heaven. It is symbolic as there is much that is symbolic in the Catholic Mass and this particular symbolism is very, very rich when properly understood from a biblical and spiritual point of view.

In the old days and now the new days with the EF Mass, the tabernacle had to be veiled, thus hiding it during Mass. But more was done to hide the tabernacle during the Holy Sacrifice, the large altar card was placed against it.

In Pontifical Masses, the tabernacle was to be empty during Mass!

So great care existed to make sure that the laity and the priest understood that they were not facing the tabernacle during Mass, but merely expressing a common "eastern" posture where the priest assumed the stance of the laity since he comes from the lay baptized.

I love that symbolism and it is oh so less clerical than when he faces the congregation.

But here is an otherwise good news story by a good reporter:


Cardinal Burke stands firmly behind Cardinal Sarah’s call for ‘ad orientem’ worship

ROME, Italy, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke has given a strong endorsement of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s recent encouragement for priests to begin celebrating Mass in accord with the ancient posture that recognizes God as the center of the liturgy.

Cardinal Burke said he is in total agreement with Cardinal Sarah’s recent request for priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, or facing the Lord, because when a priest celebrates Mass, he is acting in the person of Christ and the focus should be on God.

Ad orientem, Latin for “to the East,” refers in liturgy to when the priest and the people in the congregation face the Lord in the tabernacle. It is how all Masses used to be celebrated before Vatican II.

Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made the request at an international sacred liturgy conference last month in London for the priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem whenever possible, beginning this Advent. The Vatican liturgy chief’s remarks had subsequently stirred some pushback.

“I agree with him completely,” Cardinal Burke said in an international teleconference Monday.
The former prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura went on to say he could not agree more with Cardinal Sarah and that much of the negative reaction to his request was baseless, unfair, and uninformed. “And I believe that many of the comments which were made afterward are not well informed and are not fair.”

The fundamental point of Cardinal Sarah’s request, and the question of the position of the priest in the congregation is key, Cardinal Burke told the journalists on the call, because the priest being at the head of the congregation is acting “in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, offering this worship to God,” and so all are facing the Lord.

“It’s not that he’s turning his back on anybody,” Cardinal Burke clarified. “This is often times what people say, ‘Well now the priest turned his back on us.’”

“Not at all,” the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said. “The priest as our spiritual father is leading us in this worship to lift our minds and hearts to God.”

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Cardinal Sarah had also asked all Catholics to receive Holy Communion kneeling on the tongue, which is the Church’s norm, despite the allowances many western dioceses have to administer Communion in the hand.

While supporters of traditional and reverent liturgy applauded the request by Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican’s top liturgist since his appointment by Pope Francis in November 2014, response from both the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and then Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi played down the cardinal’s request. UK Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, in effect told priests in his diocese to disregard the request after he and others incorrectly implied that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal holds that Mass should be celebrated with the priests facing the people.

Cardinal Sarah reaffirmed that Mass had become overly focused on the priest and the congregation earlier this month in an address to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Colombo.

The Guinean cardinal echoed Cardinal Burke’s assessment that his encouragement last month for a return to more sacred liturgy was misinterpreted, according to a Catholic Herald report, with Cardinal Sarah saying, “This talk received a lot of attention — some of it not always very accurate!”

Cardinal Burke also made clear in his international press conference on Monday, when he addressed the many issues brought up in his new book Hope for the World, that there is nothing in the documents of the Second Vatican Council that demands or even suggests that Mass should now be celebrated with the priest facing the people.

“This is a discipline which was introduced afterwards and I think was part of the false liturgical reforms,” he stated.

“There’s the great temptation when the priest is facing the people to see him as some kind of a performer,” the former St. Louis archbishop said, “and now instead of the priest together with the people relating to God, somehow it becomes an interaction between the priest and the people.”
“The priest is the protagonist, it’s no longer our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said, “and this is a very fundamental gross error that has to be addressed.”

“And so Cardinal Sarah, I couldn’t agree more with him,” Cardinal Burke continued. “And I trust that with time people will recognize that the criticism which was lodged against him is completely unjustified.”

The criticism toward Cardinal Sarah is also not very sincere, Cardinal Burke went on to say, because Cardinal Sarah wrote the same thing about a return to ad orientem liturgy in June 2015 in L’Osservatore Romano, and there was no such backlash.

“He expressed the same strong convictions and nobody reacted then, and this is the official newspaper of the Holy See,” Cardinal Burke said. “And now suddenly in this context there’s this reaction, I don’t understand it.”

The sacred liturgy is the highest and most perfect expression of the Catholic faith, Cardinal Burke told the press conference, and when it’s celebrated correctly, with great dignity, we approach God himself. He objects to the contention that ad orientem liturgy means a priest is turning his back on the people, rather, it is a more God-centered expression of Holy Mass.

“No, it’s a greatest act of love for the people to be at their head, and to offer for them the Holy Mass,” Cardinal Burke said. “Because the Eucharist can only be offered by Christ himself, and it’s the priest who sacramentally is Christ offering the Holy Mass. So let’s all just face the Lord, as we should.”


Joseph Johnson said...

My first act as the newly elected president of our parish council was to give my pastor a copy of the full text of Cardinal Sarah's London speech. I politely suggested that all parish council members (as well as our pastor) read it. I don't expect any changes but I did my part in putting it out there! I may follow up with Burke's comments. . .

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is relevant to distinguish between the etymological origin of the term ad orientem (“to the east”) on the one hand, and, on the other, the implications of the term regarding reverent and proper worship.

Admittedly, the term originated in reference to priest and people all facing together towards the east (“ad orientem”), whence Our Lord will come in power and glory to judge the living and the dead.

However, let’s also admit that, at the present time, what’s needed for the resacralization of Catholic parish worship is not just the theological concept of priest and people facing together in the direction of the rising sun (to the east).

What will play the greatest role in restoring reverence to the Mass, is the priest at the head of the people behind him, leading them toward God in the Holy Sacrifice. For the perceived liturgical atmosphere of the celebration, it makes no difference whether their common direction is geographical east or geographical west.

To be blunt about it—let’s go ahead and admit openly that this means the priest with his back to the people, in the stance of a true priest offering propitiatory sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins. Merely facing the geographical east—as in Roman basilicas, where there is a physical distance between celebrant and people that supplies “liturgical distance”—would not have the same effect (of promoting reverence and proper worship) in the typical smaller parish church.

Anonymous said...

Hat's off to you, Joseph!

TJM said...

Bravo, Cardinal Burke. The snivelers in the curia must have really hated his plain speaking!

Anonymous said...

"In the old days and now the new days with the EF Mass, the tabernacle had to be veiled, thus hiding it during Mass."

As Fr. Z occasionally mentions, there is no less reason in the OF than in the EF for the tabernacle to be veiled. Irrespective of whether Mass is being celebrated or not, the veiling of the tabernacle respects the living presence within it.

rcg said...

When people voice that concern about the priest turning his back it is a serious occasion for sin for me. I have more respect flat earthers.

TJM said...

rcg, just typical liberal ignorance. Such children. It's all about me, me, me, me!

Rood Screen said...

Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God, or else they would have no problem with the practice. There's a big difference between simply preferring versus populum, on one hand, and hating ad orientem, on the other.

Mark Thomas said...

Each Cardinal who believes that it's time to restore liturgical sanity to the Latin Church should speak publicly in support of Cardinal Sarah's address in question. Then again, perhaps they (Cardinal Burke) have.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

"Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God..." shows the absurdity of some of the pro-Ad Orientem crowd.

Joseph Johnson said...

Mark Thomas,
I think it would be safe to assume one could add Cardinals Ranjith and Pell to that list (along with Cardinal Burke) of Cardinalatial ad orientem supporters. I know of certain non-cardinal bishops who would also likely be supporters, for example, Sample, Schneider, Morlino, Cordileone, etc. (we need more bishops like these guys---that's the biggest reason a lot of these things, like ad orientem, don't happen more often---too many bishops who still insist on the usual current way of doing things).

John Nolan said...

A tabernacle usually has a silk curtain or veil inside it, representing the veil of the Temple. Devout women often bequeathed their wedding rings to suspend it. For most people, however, the tabernacle veil means the external covering of the tabernacle, in either white or the liturgical colour of the day (but never black). The purpose of this is not to hide the tabernacle (why should one want to do this?) nor to indicate the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (the sanctuary lamp does this). Nor was it universally used, especially where the tabernacle was recessed into the gradine, often with an elaborately decorated door.

The placement of the tabernacle should not generate the controversy it does. There are reasons for placing it on the high altar, and equally valid reasons for not doing so. In northern Europe the Sanctissimum was often reserved in a tower-like structure in the sanctuary called a Sacrament House. In 1863 the Sacred Congregation of Rites suppressed this (an unwarranted interference with local custom) but it has recently been revived. There are some excellent modern examples.
This is far better than putting the tabernacle on a plinth directly behind the altar, so that the priest spends most of the Mass with his back to it.

Rood Screen said...


In what way?

Anonymous said...

In what way? No, the question is "In what ways?".

1. It is self-righteous. "We," the people who worship ad orientem, are faithful, while everyone else is atheist.

2. It is rash judgment. You cannot have a clue what is in another person's heart.

3. It is divisive and, thereby, destructive. Pitting Catholic against Catholic is precisely what Satan desires.

4. It is childish. "If you don't play my way, you're not playing the right way!"

TJM said...

"It is divisive and, thereby, destructive. Pitting Catholic against Catholic is precisely what Satan desires."

I didn't know Satan was the Publisher of the National Catholic Reporter. Thanks for the info, Anonymous

rcg said...

John, your explanation just made a light come on in my head: that explains why so many parishes in our diocese relocated the tabernacle to a side 'chapel' during renovation. They were removing the vestiges of the Old Order but could not bear to to turn their backs on the tabernacle. Interestingly, one church with a very large solar style tabernacle setting maintain their hosts in another tabernacle constructed off to the side. I was confused at first, then realized the old one was no longer used.

Anonymous said...

Self-righteous, rash, divisive, childish. Hmm ... What other words so rapidly evoke association with words like "liberal" and "progressive", and thoughts of PrayTell types who so inflexibly oppos ad orientem celebration, Mass in Latin, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, every whiff of reform of the reform, any suggestion that liturgical abuse is rampant, etc.

Carol H. said...


I'm afraid that it was Bishop P, who had to retire with the age requirement, who required that all parish renovations must include the moving of the tabernacle to a separate location. I don't know if your new bishop kept that requirement or not.

Rood Screen said...


Please permit me to respond to each of your points:

1. I have not suggested that "the people who worship ad orientem, are faithful, while everyone else is atheist". I would never question the faith of anyone who prefers versus populum worship.

2. Why else would one group of people try to prevent a second group of people from worshiping in an approved manner that aids the second group's participation in worship? Perhaps you have a better explanation.

3. That one group actively opposes another group adopting a legitimate option for worship is itself divisive. Why blame the victim of this opposition?

4. I have not suggested that there is anything wrong with versus populum, nor have I suggested that ad orientem should be imposed upon anyone.

rcg said...

Carol, you are correct. The diocese is still recovering from that era.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue: You said, "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God,..."

Now you say, "I have not suggested that "the people who worship ad orientem, are faithful, while everyone else is atheist".

Yeah, ya did on August 31.

You said, "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God,..."

Now you say, "Why else would one group of people try to prevent a second group of people from worshiping in an approved manner..."

So, at this point, you acknowledge that there may be OTHER reasons for opposition to ad orientem worship, but on August 31 you said there was one - atheism. You came to that Aug 31 conclusion via rash judgment of the hearts of others.

You say, " That one group actively opposes another group adopting a legitimate option for worship is itself divisive. Why blame the victim of this opposition?"

Catholics have disagreed on many issues yet remained respectful of their opponents. Peter and Paul disagreed on serious issues, but one never said of the other, "He is an atheist." That's what you did on August 31.

You say, "I have not suggested that there is anything wrong with versus populum, nor have I suggested that ad orientem should be imposed upon anyone."

I never made any comment whatsoever about what you think about versus populum worship of whether you think ad orientem worship should be imposed.

Rood Screen said...


I don't like broccoli, but I don't oppose other people eating it.
I don't like cocaine, and I oppose other people using it.

Can you see the difference between not liking something and opposing it?

Anonymous said...

Dialogue - Can't you see the difference between calling someone who doesn't agree with you an atheist and calling someone who doesn't agree with you an atheist?

No? Neither can I.

Your words: "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God..." are among the many reasons the vast majority of faithful, active, and committed Catholics have nothing to do with traditionalists.

Rood Screen said...


There's nothing "traditionalists" want more than for those who actively oppose the free use of our liturgical rights to leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

No, you also want to dehumanize and denigrate those who do not share your views. Hence, you make absurd assertions such as, "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God...".

And, you want to be your own little individualistic community of like minded folks
who can hide behind the maniple and thumb your noses at anyone who does not share your tastes.

But part of the genius of the Catholic Church is "You don't get to choose with whom you dip your hand into the dish." It is called "catholic" for a very good reason.

In one fell swoop you have declared those who do not share your views to be 1) out of the Church and 2) in danger of spending eternity in hell.

Exercise your rights as you see fit. But don't pretend that that is your only motivation.

Rood Screen said...


I admit that I do not understand what you are talking about.

Rood Screen said...


It might help you to take a class in philosophical rhetoric and logic. Or, just be clear and leave emotion out of your comments. You could, for example, say, "Dialogue, you claim that those who oppose ad orientem worship do not believe in God, presumably because opponents don't believe God is there when priest and congregation face an apparently empty direction, and so opponents seek to prevent believers from persevering in a mistaken belief. However, those who seek to prevent ad orientem worship do indeed believe God is in that empty space, but also believe God is present in the priest and congregation, and so they oppose ad orientem in order to force believers to see God present in each other." Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm in no need of taking classes to determine what you mean when you post. Rather, I'll take your words without adding to them what you MAY have meant or what you MAY NOT have meant. That's a useless exercise in wasting time.

Your words were "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God...". Now, if YOU want to amend your divisive, self-righteous post, please do. But I'm not going to presume to put words in your mouth.

John Nolan said...

We are suffering a spate of anonymous contributors, on this and other threads, who delight in being quarrelsome and self-righteous, and who nit-pick over details because they lack the capacity to indulge in serious argument.

'Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God, or else they would have no problem with the practice.'

This is not an attack on any individual or group, but a statement containing a perfectly logical inference.

To object to and actively oppose a practice which has been nigh on universal for the best part of two millennia is to adopt a very extreme position indeed. Since the reason for the practice is a common orientation towards the Risen Lord, then those extremists who oppose it may reasonably be assumed not to share the belief of those who have practised it for twenty centuries.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Boss, it is not quarrelsome to express disagreement. Only those who think that their opinions are self-evidently unassailable think that way.

Another perfectly logical inference flowing from "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God, or else they would have no problem with the practice" is that the person making such a statement must have the supernatural capacity to know the minds and hearts of hundreds of millions of people.

And there is where we find the illogic of such a statement.

John Nolan said...


Are you completely dense? Nowhere was it said that atheism was the reason why some people oppose a common orientation for the most solemn part of the Mass. The point was that 'opponents' (the key word here) would do well to consider the logical implications of their extreme stance.

The Church's official line is that both options are legitimate and neither is preferred. Which being so, a common orientation has perforce the greater authority (auctoritas) since it has been the near universal practice since time immemorial.

You might consider a class in reading comprehension in addition to those in logic and rhetoric. And don't say you don't need them; your contributions provide ample evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

John, I would encourage you to practice your reading comprehension.

The statement was made, "Opponents of ad orientem don't believe in God, or else they would have no problem with the practice."

The false presumption is that opposition to ad orientem orientation is based on non-belief in God. This is preposterous, presumptuous, and self-righteous.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with "universal practice" not with the time the orientation was followed.

It has everything to do with the false accusation made against those who, for a variety of reasons, are opposed to ad orientem worship.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

There does not appear to be a way to have a rational conversation with her.

Anonymous said...

Because anyone who disagrees with you or holds a different perspective is irrational? Got it!

John Nolan said...


No, you haven't 'got it' and perhaps never will. The carapace of your ignorance is probably impervious to a direct hit from a high-explosive shell. Your irrationality stems not from your agreement or disagreement with someone else, but from a wilful refusal even to attempt to understand the argument that is being made, even when it is spelt out to you in plain language.

You are an egregious example of a semi-educated individual, quick to take umbrage at any imagined slight, but incapable of serious thought. Who are the 'hundreds of millions' of people who object to a common orientation? They may not encounter it very often (such is the current fashion) but this does not mean they are actively opposed to it; indeed I pointed out that given nearly 2000 years of Christian worship to do so would be both extreme and irrational. What is a tradition of fifty years compared with one of nineteen hundred?

'The false presumption is that opposition to ad orientem orientation (sic) is based on non-belief in God'. No-one is presuming that someone starts by denying the existence of God and then proceeds to oppose ad orientem worship. An atheist would logically oppose worship altogether, even if people oriented themselves by standing on their heads. The question is, can such an extreme and irrational opposition be consistent with a belief in God, and his presence in the Eucharist - a question you have not addressed, assuming you have understood the question in the first place.

And that is, in your case, probably assuming too much.