Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

The controversy that has been stirred up over Cardinal Sarah’s encouragement to priests to return to the traditional orientation at the altar during Mass has been fascinating, alarming, and perhaps ultimately necessary. It has provoked people on various sides to play their hands: unswerving loyalty to the status quo of liturgical reform, and a willingness to use an iron fist in a velvet glove to defend it; a commitment to reforming this reform to bring it more in line with the explicit intentions of the Council on which the status quo bases its legitimacy;  a rejection even of a reform of the reform and an overriding commitment to the pre-conciliar liturgy as liberated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007; and, incredulity among a minority at this bickering over such a peripheral thing as liturgy —”people are starving”, etc. On the positive side, it has renewed a discussion into what Christian worship is all about, what is its focus and what are its essential principles. This has led some to make more concrete and definitive judgments on related issues on which they had not previously come to any firm and final decision.

However, Sacra Liturgia 2016 had three full days of talks beyond Cardinal Sarah’s controversial address. So to help further the effects and fruits of the conference, I propose to single out what struck me as particularly noteworthy and deserving of ongoing thought and application. These strike me as seeds that deserve the water of our attention, our study and prayer, and our action. Continue reading “Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016”

A Quick Reply to Dr Shaw

Though I did not feel that he was obliged to, Dr Shaw has offered a timely reply to my previous post. In it he implies what I feel as well, that this is not personal but a discussion, a debate even, concerning the ways and means to a shared goal.

Dr Shaw does not address the whole of my post, just some issues he felt needed clarification. While I take on board what he says, I am not sure I find things much clearer.

I hypothesised that if the restoration of pre-conciliar worship is his goal, and wondering how this would be achieved, then one way that seemed to present itself would be imposing such a change much as the new Mass was imposed in 1969. We do not want a repeat of that. Cheeringly, Dr Shaw said that this was “obviously not” the way to proceed. He clarifies how he sees progress advancing: Continue reading “A Quick Reply to Dr Shaw”

Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform

Liturgy is a hot topic again. Cardinal Sarah’s opening address at the Sacra Liturgia 2016 conference in London in early July, with its advocacy of priestly orientation to the east rather than to the people when at the altar, has had the effect of bringing many to play their hands openly. However, that this reception can be neatly divided along the usual lines, into progressives as anti-Sarah facing off against conservatives—or “neo-Tridentinists” as they have inanely been called—has become impossible.

The “conservative” ranks might be conveniently, if not with absolute accuracy, divided into two columns when it comes to this liturgical debate: the reformers-of-the-reform and the traditionalists properly speaking (i.e. those who favour the 1962 Missal). The reformers-of-the-reform have embraced the cardinal’s appeal, because it accords with the rubrics of the new Mass even as it is, and because it is a feeling almost like liberation to hear such a senior pastor advocate the traditional orientation with equivocation. Continue reading “Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform”

What do they fear in facing East?

Meetings today, meetings tomorrow. The summary of the key teachings of Sacra Liturgia 2016 will have to wait another day. In the meantime it is hard not to wonder at the muted panic that seems to be spreading in some quarters at the prospect of a resurgence in ad orientem worship. Why such a need to stamp it out so quickly? What do they fear in facing God?

Are they afraid that people, having experienced ad orientem in their own churches might discover that it works far better for worship? Are they afraid people would come to love it, and prefer it? If so, why should that bother them? If it meant a more committed and satisfied congregation, that should surely be greeted with cheers. If it came to pass that the congregations increased in number, then surely we should dance for joy (non-liturgically!). Continue reading “What do they fear in facing East?”

The Fallout and Propaganda: Cardinal Sarah and Sacra Liturgia 2016

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of matters ecclesiastical knew it would come. The boat had been rocked so there was bound to be some shouting, mounting insecurity and a sense of control lost. Having lost the battle of the Missal certain forces would be certain to move quickly so as not to lose the battle of the Altar.

However it it is not going to work so well this time around. The young laity and the young clergy and seminarians, in whose hands lies the future of the Church on earth for the next few generations at least, are now far more up to speed on the issues, and connected to each other across the globe in ways never possible when I was a baby Jesuit, thanks to the internet. Moreover, when the forces seeking to put Cardinal Sarah’s genie back in its bottle use highly deficient arguments, the young will see it, and will spurn it, even scorn it. Continue reading “The Fallout and Propaganda: Cardinal Sarah and Sacra Liturgia 2016”

Cardinal Sarah’s Address to Sacra Liturgia 2016 in Full

Of course I should be in bed; but the text of Cardinal Sarah’s important opening address to the Sacra Liturgia conference has been released, including the parts he cut on the day due to time constraints. So you can all have a head start on me. Read, and savour!

Cardinal Sarah’s Address to Sacra Liturgia UK – London – 5 July 2016 – English – Final Text

The reaction against it has begun. Pray that wolves do not get Cardinal Sarah as well.

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Robert, Cardinal Sarah—London, 5 July 2016

Sacra Liturgia: Day 4, Hughlights 3

We enter here the last stretch to the finishing post of the conference.

Monsignor Andrew Burnham, former Anglican flying bishop of Ebbsfleet, and one of the three Anglican bishops whose conversion coincided with the erection of the Ordinariate in England, spoke to us about the Ordinariate’s proper liturgical books: Divine Worship: The Missal and “the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition” (Anglicanorum Coetibus, III). He was one of the committee that compiled the liturgical books for the Ordinariate Use (as were Fr Uwe Michael Lang and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, both present at the conference). Continue reading “Sacra Liturgia: Day 4, Hughlights 3”