tisdag 25 juni 2013

Turn round, Father!

Monseigneur  Jean-Yves Riocreux
God is of course omnipresent but Mass takes place within a cultural context. We bring all our past experiences to it, which connect to, and then associate with, what is happening in front of us.

In both the contemporary and historical cultural contexts, this confrontational versus populi configuration has been about with power. Such a universal association cannot be simply brushed away.

The celebration of Mass facing the people has nothing to do with the Novus Ordo as such. It began as a 60s fashion based on an erroneous understanding of the architecture of some ancient churches in Rome. The effect is that many priests behave like actors, or worse - haughty and arrogant.

When the priest celebrates Mass in the same direction as the congregation, it is clear that the priest is both servant and leader. When the priest celebrates Mass with his face towards the people, he looks like some kind of chief or ruler. Or perhaps a shopkeeper or petty official. We pick this up unconsciously as oppressive, as an emphasis on the priest's power and inequality. It is surprising that liberal Catholics, of all people, have almost never picked this up.

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