Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope celebrates mass ad orientem in Sistine Chapel

Apparently, this was a modern liturgy in Italian, proving, of course, that the Second Vatican Council did not somehow "outlaw" celebrating mass in this way.

The New Liturgical Movement blog has the goods:
the Pope has now given an important public witness and example of the acceptability of the celebration of the sacred liturgy "ad orientem" -- that is, with the priest, in this case the Pope himself, and the faithful directed together in a common sacred direction, turned towards the Lord, towards the symbolic "East" of the liturgy. This is the first such public manifestation (as compared to this practice in the Pope's private chapel) for quite some time and that it has occurred within the Vatican itself is also significant.
Celebrating mass in this way in the Sistine Chapel also makes complete sense. Catholic author Amy Welborn comments:
There is nothing accidental about the interior decoration of the chapel, including Michelangelo’s Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. It is purposefully designed to provide a “space” for a large altar cross. The cross is set up to be directly below the figure of the Risen Christ - and these are the images which we - and the celebrant - face during Mass. To set up another altar in front of that and have the focus shift away does, indeed, violate the original intention of the space.
I would have expected the half-witted press to come up with more stupid headlines that missed the point, such as "Pope snubs laity during mass by turning back on them." I would modify it slightly: "Pope leads faithful toward the Coming Lord." Come, Lord Jesus!

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