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 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cardinal Sarah v. Cardinal Nicholls, Spadaro and Lombardi: ad orientem

The latest unnecessary brouhaha to tangle the attentions of Catholic spectators is the issue of ad orientem worship. That is, the manner of eastward facing worship that the Church had engaged in for some 1900+ years prior to the misappropriation of the Liturgy which followed in the wake of the publication of the Pauline Missal in the 1970s.

Recently, Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a document and has given follow up speeches which have encouraged priests to celebrate Mass in the manner known to the Church for nearly all of her existence. This beautiful call to worship God as He Himself desires to make Himself known and worshipped has been met by opposition from Fr. Lombardi, head of Vatican media, and subsequently by bishops and priests, Fr. Antonio Spadaro for one, who have issued curious statements that contradict Cardinal Sarah's initiative to restore dignity to the Mass. It seems strange, almost bizarre, that some clergy would attempt to contradict the liturgical norms stated in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) which make clear that the priest celebrates the Mass facing toward the liturgical East and, as directed in the GIRM, turns toward the people at certain points during the Liturgy. Too many Catholics, apparently even supposedly highly educated ones, have become so enamoured in a myth (i.e., that versus populum worship is the only orientation permissible) that they believe the fog to be fact. Spadaro

Contrary to Fr. Lombardi's and Cardinal Nicholl's positions which, founded upon weak ideas at best, assert the versus populum orientation, Ad orientem worship is the orientation assumed in the Roman Missal.

Ad orientem worship is the worship of God by priest (celebrant) and people facing in the same direction, i.e., toward the rising sun, which is the direction from which the Son of God will return. Some refer to this orientation as an orientation toward the liturgical East, the point being that priest and people face together toward the crucifix (which symbolizes East) above the altar which is located in the apse. If one attends the Ordinariate Mass, a Byzantine Divine Liturgy (e.g., the Liturgy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, ad orientem is the orientation of which this blogger speaks.
Fr. Z fisks Nicholls' position.
Fr. Hunwicke weighs in.
Debunking the mistranslation of GIRM 299. Multiple sources.

Latin translation is not what it once was at the Vatican. Thank goodness we have many, many informed scholars who have helped to keep the rest of us on track with regards to the liturgical norms written in Latin and so loosely translated to fit the political ideologies of certain clergy and people.

Fr. Antonion Spadaro, an advisor to the Pope and apparently a questionable one at that, has attempted to proof text the pro-versus populum position by culling passages from the GIRM that appear to support his position. As with all ideologues who have built their houses on the sand of an obvious myopia, Fr. Spadaro selectively quotes from the GIRM to defend a confused position:
Thankfully, many erudite sources easily contradict Fr. Spadaro's truncated views and weak attempt to persuade others to accept an unfounded position. Among those erudite defenders of the Faith are those listed in an article at the ever excellent website linked to below:
Below is a citation from the Corpus Christi Watershed article by Mr. Jeff Ostrowski which should prove of value to those who wish to correct the information promoted by Lombardi, Nicholls and Spadaro. 
As of 2002, the GIRM says:
Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.
As we saw in Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s article, the correct English translation of this sentence is:
Correct Translation: The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.
Unfortunately, the official English translation is faulty, and contradicts the official ruling of the CDW (see below), dated 25 September 2000:
Erroneous Translation (used by pro-versus populum advocates): The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.
How is it that the Spadaros, Nichollses and Lombardis of the world manage to miss the rather obvious nuances which make clear the orientation of the Liturgy? As Dr. Peter Kwasniewski reminds,
(i)f the priest were assumed to be always or normatively facing the people throughout the Offertory, there would be no need for the rubric to specify that at the “Pray, brethren” (Orate Fratres) he should now be “facing the people.” This phrase is to be taken in contraposition to “standing at the altar,” i.e., in the ad orientem position.
After the Preface, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the giving of peace:
127. The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” The people reply: “And with your spirit.”
Again, if during the Eucharistic Prayer and ensuing Communion Rite the priest had already been facing the people throughout, the boldfaced rubric would be superfluous. There is no reason to specify that the peace should be given “turned towards the people” unless he has been turned away from them until this point.
In light of the clear direction provided by the GIRM, Fr. Lombardi's and Cardinal Nicholl's challenges to Cardinal Sarah are ill informed and, to anyone possessing an ounce of knowledge concerning liturgical norms, eminently stupid. Frankly, Cardinal Nicholl's injunction issued to priests concerning a prohibition of ad orientem worship demonstrates a level of cheek (impertinence, insolence, effrontery, audacity, cockiness, brazenness...) unworthy of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church by the very fact Cardinal Nicholl's directions contradict the authoritative document governing the celebration of the Mass, i.e., the GIRM, not to mention his comments detract from the witness of the Church for some nineteen centuries. Furthermore, Cardinal Nicholl's and Fr. Lombardi's comments contradict the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, a student par excellence of liturgy who possesses an intellectual precision far superior to that of Cardinal Nicholl, Fr. Spadaro and Fr. Lombardi.

How will Catholics recover Catholic identity when so many of the ordained members of the flock have little or no appreciation for the authoritative documents of the Church?

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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