|Ambon of King Henry II, Aachen Cathedral/Wikipedia|
We've all seen it happen. I.e., priests strutting around during the homily.
- Jesus Christ is the principal actor in the Mass.
- With the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar, the priest is not to leave the altar during the Sign of Peace (GIRM 154).
- Exceptions permitted by the rubrics, the priest may not change nor omit any part of the Mass (Sacrosanctum Concilium 22).
- The Mass is something received and handed on, not reinvented nor improvised.
- The Mass is meant to be celebrated with dignity, beauty, reverence and attention to detail, for therein lies the conservation and transmission of the Faith received from the Apostles: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
Though one may argue that a priest's movement toward or around the people during a homily can better engage the attention of the congregation, an obvious liability is that a cult of personality is reinforced. Bishops should not be surprised when parishioners become partisan and canonize their popular priests, ignoring the heresy-ridden content of their homilies while lapping up the delivery. Parishioners who are so enamoured of their priests that they will follow them into schism is a sad commentary on the state of catechesis. One might argue that had such a congregation received better catechesis and pastoral oversight by the local ordinary to help inoculate them against the errant teachings and bizarre practices of some dopy pastor, things might not have ended up as badly as it has in some locales.
Homility, er... humility.
It is far too easy—and there have now been decades of precedents—for priests to become self enamoured to the point they think themselves above any kind of criticism. When legitimate criticism points out loose play with the Liturgy, or a politicization of the Liturgy, or lax attention to authentic catechesis, such criticism is typically dismissed out of hand.
|Ambon (ambo)/Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna/Wikipedia|
When a bishop does not preach from the pulpit or ambo, the throne of Holy Scripture, and moves about the sanctuary and occasionally into the nave of the church, his example will almost certainly be appealed to and copied by priests, especially when a bishop's apparent deviation reinforces in some priests' minds a license to engage in additional rubrically-challenged activities.
That such incidents involving loose play with the Liturgy occur all too frequently is a sure sign that Catholics, clergy in particular, have lost a sense of their connection to the altar of the Word, i.e., the ambo.
- Ambos are believed to have taken their origin from the raised platform from which the Jewish rabbis read the Scriptures to the people.
- (Ambos) were first introduced into churches during the fourth century (and) were in universal use by the ninth, reaching their full development and artistic beauty in the twelfth, and then gradually fell out of use until in the fourteenth century when they were largely superseded by pulpits.
- In the Ambrosian Rite (Milan), the Gospel is still read from the ambo.
- The most celebrated ambo was the one erected by the Emperor Justinian in the church of Sancta Sophia at Constantinople, which is fully described by the contemporary poet, Paulus Silentiarius in his work Peri Ktismaton. The body of the ambo was made of various precious metals, inlaid with ivory, overlaid with plates of repoussé silver, and further enriched with gildings and bronze. ... In St. Mark's, at Venice, there is a very peculiar ambo, of two stories; from the lower one was read the Epistle, and from the upper one the Gospel. This form was copied at a later date in what are known as "double-decker" pulpits.—Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent. Edited by CS.
The bema in the Chaldean Liturgy.
- The bema is a platform somewhat higher than the rest of the nave. In the middle of the bema a table is set, symbolizing Gaghultha (Golgotha), on which the living cross and gospel are placed. At its right side (North) there is the lectern for the New Testament readings and at its left side (South) the lectern for the Old Testament (and Acts), namely, the first two readings.
- The Word of God and the liturgical prayer are on the bema, while the Eucharistic Liturgy is celebrated in the heavenly Holy of Holies.
- The sanctuary symbolizes heaven and the sacrifice offered on the altar is the symbol of that which exists in heaven. The veil separating the sanctuary from the nave symbolizes the firmament; the nave of the church is the earth and the bema is Jerusalem from where Christ teaches us through the readings of the scriptures.
Most priests could and should better prepare their homilies. A sure sign a homily has not been prepared, apart from the obvious lack of coherence and stumbling and fumbling for words, is repetition of content beyond what is necessary to emphasize the importance of an aspect of revelation. There is acceptable, elegant repetition of ideas woven together, revisited and developed in the manner of a sonata or symphony, and then there is burdensome repetition that could easily be of the mind numbing kind one hears in some drippy pop song. There is no sin in writing down and presenting a coherent, well organized, substance-oriented homily.
Thesaurus of Terms
Ambo or Ambon (plural: ambones)