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So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent: Season of Returns. Reminders. Part 2.

If there is ever a season during which we should be facing toward the (liturgical) east in our worship of Almighty God, it is during the season of Advent.

Christ returns: every Mass, in the Holy Eucharist.
Christ will meet us at the end of our lives, and we will be judged.
Christ will come again at the end of time, from the East, to gather His Church.

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Additional thoughts from the eminent liturgical scholar Bishop Peter J. Elliott.

Excerpt from: 
The Te Deum Institute of Sacred Liturgy
Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Friday March 11th 2011

THE GLORY OF THE LITURGY: POPE BENEDICT’S VISION
Most Rev Peter J. Elliott

“Turning Towards the Lord”

[Benedict XVI's] cosmological vision of the Eucharist explains the Pope’s appreciation for celebrating the Eucharist ad orientem, that is, towards the East. Led by the priest, the pilgrim people turn towards the Light of the risen Lord, reigning in his cosmos and coming again in his parousia. As cardinal he was well aware of the cultural difficulty of appreciating this ancient universal Christian symbolism in the secularized Western World. But he did not even consider that ignorant expression we still hear, celebrating Mass “with his back to the people”. That misses the whole point of the priest who is leading a worship procession towards the Lord. 

As a cardinal he was not popular for putting that view. He partly challenged the most obvious and prevalent post-conciliar change, the almost universal practice of moving altars and celebrating Mass facing the people. As I shall explain, at the same time he gives us a way to enrich Mass facing the people by focusing on the Lord. [Bishop Elliott is referring to the altar arrangement which has come to be known as the Benedictine Arrangement: click HERE for an image]

Moreover while he integrates the sacrificial dimension and the meal dimension of the Mass, he rejects the meal as the paradigm for the Eucharistic liturgy. The term “meal” in German and English cannot convey the depth of the liturgical action and its Passover roots. Nor does he accept “sacrificial meal” – which still gives the meal priority. He favors a deeper understanding of the priority of Sacrifice through a Hebrew concept of sacrifice, personalized and internalized in the self-immolation of Christ crucified and risen. 

[Pope Benedict] invites us to see the glory of Christ Priest and Victim in the liturgy. He leads us into this glory, above all by his own example of a priest humbly entering the divine mysteries of the altar. By word and demeanor he reminds us that liturgy is a gift to be received in humility, not something we construct for ourselves, not a fabrication. Here he strongly rejects a decadent style of liturgy that set in soon after Vatican II. That style was contrived to be a deliberate break with the past.

Return to ad orientem worship!

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We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.