Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning towards the Lord, on Mondays

I put a note on the newsletter that as the Holy Father had done so last Sunday, I want to offer one of the regular weekday Masses "ad orientem", I already do so on a Friday evening but this an addtional Mass. I will most probably do so on my day off, which is supposed to be Monday.

I put the obvious reasons down,

  • wanting to say Mass facing the same direction aas the people,

  • in the ancient orientation for Christian prayer,

  • disliking a barrier between me and the people

I have so far three pwoplw have commented two saying they were in favour and one person who said she hoped it wasn't a move backwards away from the principles of Vatican II. I haven't yet had the opportunity to ask what exactly these principles are. I suspect it be about lay involvement.

The truth of the matter is I think that the last of my reasons is acrtually the most important for me. I dislike the barrier the altar creates. I fully recognise that I am as the Church teaches, "ontologically different", "not only in degree but in nature". That said when I go to the altar I am also a suppliant who stands before the living God. I want to be number amongst Christ's faithful, I don't want to be the "centre" of worship. I don't really want to lead it, I want to lead people to Christ. I am quite happy to be the instrument of the Church in celebrating the liturgy but it is Christ who is the High Priest. I am told I am an adequate preacher, what I do not have much skill at is doing the, "these or similar words", which appears at various places in the current English version of the Missal, I always use the "these".

I can't help but think that turning towards the Lord my answer some of my own needs in worship, well in fact I know it does.

have a look at Fr Martin Fox's reasons for celebrating ad orientem.


gemoftheocean said...

Re: the woman with the question about "away from Vatican II" my guess is she might feel "hey, I can see what you're doing now at Mass, I won't be able to see all that if you're blocking my view."

You mention:
" * disliking a barrier between me and the people"

But then you would be the barrier between the people and what's on the altar!

Do you have any "skyboxes" or transcept aisles for those who have a visceral "need to see?"


Anonymous said...

Just a few of my thoughts (not that I deserve to be heard!)........

I was at an am-dram theatre production the other day and one of the actors mentioned that they are always told that they must never turn their back on the audience because it is considered rude. I somehow feel as if there is an element of this here!

Athough I know that the main purpose of being at Mass is to to adore God, surely it is also a meal - a meal to be shared between priest and people alike. If you are at a meal with friends, you should all be seated together around the table (as Jesus and his apostles were at the Last Supper). If somebody at a meal turned their back on you, wouldn't you consider it rude?

I guess I have got used to taking my place at the Table of God. Having the priest turn his back on me makes me feel somehow excluded now....... not that my feelings really matter!

ServusMariaeN said...

I for one am grateful for your example in offering Holy Mass "Ad Orientem". I think the objection raised by your parishioner is a common one. I remember whilst growing up in the early 70s that I read for myself the document "Sacrosanctum Concilium" in order to find out for myself indeed what Vatican II said regarding this and as far as I know it said nothing. Add to the fact that as far as I know the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI assume the "Ad Orientem" posture in part. Is this true?

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Fr. Fox's post is attracting a lot of interest.

Other priest bloggers have taken up the theme.

I'm very glad this issue is not going to go away.

Fr. Ray is absolutely right.
The altar does come between the priest and the people.

It really would be so much better if the priest stood before the altar rather than behind it.

This does not involve the banning of all Masses facing the people.

Pastoral solicitude would suggest that a Mass versus populum be available for those who are attached to it.

Anonymous said...

I find it sad that only two people have contacted you in favour of another Mass said ad orientem. Even sadder that someone is deliberately not in favour of this - had they not seen the recent Papal Mass?

I am however curious to know why one of the Sunday Masses cannot be an ad orientem. You describe the Friday evening Mass as 'an extra one' - does this mean you have to have permission to celebrate in this way, Father?

As the majority of any parish attend at least on Sundays, then if one of these was an ad orientem then its popularity among those in the pews would grow more familiar.
Your reasons for celebrating in this way seem very sound, and I for one am so glad you stick to the words and are not tempted to invent 'something similar.'

It is still only a day since you published the information in your bulletin. There will hopefully be others who will understand your reasons for the change which to us oldies will be so welcome. To be honest it is easier to pray during Mass when the priest is not looking at us - no offence meant!

Simon Platt said...

Dear Father,

I'm sure it would be good for your people as well as for yourself. I hope you will be able to offer all your masses facing "east" - perhaps soon. After all, ubi Petrus ...


Physiocrat said...

Go for it. If the Holy Father is saying Mass ad orientem then he is doing it in order to instruct the church that this is the way that it ought to be done.

And I would hope you will be doing this on Sunday too before long. Indeed, this must surely be part of your wider aim of getting rid of slackness in the way the liturgy is celebrated, in particular, the actions of the servers and others who assist at Mass.

It is very important that those who are assisting in this way should know exactly what they ought to be doing. This cannot be assumed, as these days most of us have picked up whatever we can glean, which may not always be from people who are themselves correctly informed.

The servers are in need of some training sessions to ensure that everything goes smoothly and in accordance with correct procedures.

Also, of proper preparation. It would do no harm if the servers were to gather, say, 15 minutes before the commencement of Mass instead of arriving in a trickle right up to the time Mass is meant to start, which is just demoralising for those who do make an attempt to get there in good time.

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray is asking his parishioners what they think of Mass celebrated ad orientem.

I cannot help wondering what would have happened 40 years ago if we had all been asked whether we approved of the changes thrust upon us then. Like many people, I accepted them because it was the will of the Holy Catholic Church in which I firmly believed. I now discover that 'facing the people' was not decreed by Vatican II but because the custom has gone on so long, some people wish to retain it.

Why, oh why, was it not stopped early on? Does anybody know?

Anonymous said...

I think it is the point of sacrifice AND meal. There is that part of the mass where there is an offering to God (priest and people) and the point where Gods gift of His Son is given to us in return. This is then distributed in the meal (shared amoung us at Holy Communion). There are therefore two sensible orientations for each aspect. I think that the meal aspect is not lost but put in it's proper place. The main advantage is that the sacrifical element is allowed it's truthful visual direction. Hitherto it has been concealed to no good as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

I tend to see a flaw or odd reasoning in likening the altar of the Holy Sacrifice to a "barrier." This seems to be a poor usage of words, in my opinion. Also, in my little experience of participating in '62 Masses and my participation my whole life to the Ordinary Mass I don't think I have ever put any central attention on the priest offering the sacrifice. I am a seminarian from the States and attend Mass daily, so I think I have some justification for the latter comment. With that said, I'm sure the "Ad Orientem" Mass is great; I have never attended such a Mass. However, I wonder if there can be a better term or terminology for the altar rather than calling it a "barrier." I don't see any legitimate reason for calling it such, but I would like to hear more on this subject. Let us climb the ladder of truth, ;)!

Pax Christi

gemoftheocean said...

Pelerin: It wasn't "stopped before" because probably a good 50 percent of the people said " that's what goes on....."

[one of the 50 percent who still wouldn't have a clue had they kept it that way. Ditto the guys who never served Mass.]

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Father.

If there were more priests like you over the last few decades, the ranks of the SSPX laity would be much smaller, and so many families wouldn't have to travel hours and hours each Sunday to go to a reverent Mass with the FSSP or other Ecclesia Dei communities.

So many families, now geographically separated from their fellow Catholics by going to a Latin Mass Community an hour or more away, originally departed their local parish community over basic matters of the Faith -- these weren't traditionalist ideologues. They just wanted a holy setting to raise their families, where the true Faith and the whole Faith were preached, and where matters such as salvation, grace, and the sacraments were taken seriously. This can be done within the Novus Ordo parishes, but it is VERY rare to find it.

Anonymous said...

I am in favour, though I'm not surprised many parishoners didn't respond after the occurrences last Sunday.

Fr Ray Blake said...

US Seminarian,
If you are standing behind something, so that half your body is hidden then there is a barrier between you and those you are communicating with.
It is the reason people choose to sit behind a desk when dealing with a client or a counter when dealing with a customer.
Being a creature of the 70s and 80s I remember social workers and people involved in office design saying that desks and counters placed the person behind such an object as being in a situation of power. Eliminating counters and desks brought about a greater situation of equality.

Karen, our local Coptic church doesn't have a "skybox" but it does have a cctv camera the other side of he altar and a tv monitor in a side aisle so those who desperately need to see what the priest is doing at the altar can.

Anonymous said...

As Henry says, Go for it.

nickbris said...

Good idea Father Ray,A lot of us not born yesterday have never settled down properly since Vatican 2.I hope we can have Mass Ad Orientem on Friday mornings too.Everybody faces the same way in a Mosque and they are filling up more and more.

Gregor Kollmorgen said...

Just a thought, and no offence to anyone, especially not to Karen:

I wonder whether it couldn't be that that "visceral need to see" is also due to an - unconscious, of course - lack of faith. Isn't it because deep down there is a feeling that "when I don't see it happen, it doesn't really happen"? Isn't it similar to the words of the Apostle St. Thomas: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."? But the Lord says: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

And while our sacred Religion has always justly taken into account that in we are sensual beings - that is why the elevations were introduced into the Canon - the Mystery of the Real Presence cannot be seen anyway, but must be believed. Like St. Thomas Aquinas says in the Tantum ergo: "Præstet fides supplementum sensuum defectui." - "Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail."

Also, shouldn't it give us pause that even the Baroque of the Counterreformation, which did its utmost to speak to the senses in order to elicit and foster the Faith, never thought of celebration versus populum?

As I said, just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Father, you may be interested to know that I know of a parish where the priest has returned the altar to its originasl position against the wall and always says Mass "ad orientem". What was a declining parish is now growing, with very active parishioners.

Also, the communion rails have been restored so that people receive communion kneeling. The parishioners seem happy with this. Have you thought about doing that at Brighton.?

Anonymous said...

The problem is there isn't much to see today.
Can't we too easily substitute seeing for "actually participating"?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder whether it couldn't be that that "visceral need to see" is also due to an - unconscious, of course - lack of faith. Isn't it because deep down there is a feeling that "when I don't see it happen, it doesn't really happen"?"

This makes a lot of sense.

This is also why many young couples with young children stop going to Mass. If they spend the entire Mass in the back of the Church, or outside the Church, or down in the basement of the Church battling youngsters or changing diapers or feeding babies, then they figure "they got nothing out of Mass."

This is a V II mindset.

The Truth is we don't have to follow what the priest is doing.

He is trained to do a job up there.

Let him do it.

We can "participate" through offering our prayers and intentions through the priest.

Sincere, genuine, quite devotions by the laity is actually more efficacy "participation" than mouthing through the words of the priest or following his every move like he's putting on a stage show.

Don't go quoting Pius XII or VII to me. Save it. This is what Pope Pius meant by participating at Mass.

Anonymous said...

If you come to Mass expecting to 'see' then you will see - with or without your eyes. If you come to Mass expecting to praise God then you will praise God whichever bloody way the wretched priest is facing! God help us - are we failing to see the wood for the trees because of these navel-gazing priests? Haven't they anything better to write about?

Sadie Vacantist said...

U.S. Seminarian said...

"I don't think I have ever put any central attention on the priest offering the sacrifice".

That is the problem, you are evidently holier than me. I am the complete opposite. My problem with NO rite is that it presupposes a level of holiness, concentration, theological and liturgical acumen that I neither possess nor in moments of despair, wish to acquire.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the cluelessness of most of these comments you'll need to do an awful lot of teaching to explain why the ad orientem position is preferable to versus populum. Surely it's got nothing to do with personal choice (a Protestant option) but to doctrine, history and tradition?

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I think there is a lot to be said for Mass being said facing east. We are the Church Militant and surely the symbolism of the priest leading us forward towards the cross is powerful.
I also agree-having trained as a psychi nurse in the 1980's :)- that the altar can be seen as a barrier that separates the priest from the people.
I'm surprised there has been such a muted response from your parishioners-maybe there's more to come.

Pippo said...

God bless you Father! That is what the role of the Sacred Liturgy and of a Priest is-to lead people to Christ, and that is what our dear Holy Father has been trying to emphasise.

Keep up the good work Father-your parishioners are very lucky to have such a devoted priest who knows what his job is.

gemoftheocean said...

"Isn't it because deep down there is a feeling that "when I don't see it happen, it doesn't really happen"? "

Sweetheart, you're not even remotely close, so don't even trouble your pretty little head about it.

If you don't "get" how profound it is to see something that for one nanosecond could be fed to passing dogs, then to keep gazing and realize that a nano second later that same bread and wine is now Christ Almighty worth putting my life on the line to die for, should someone storm in and try and desecrate the Sacrament, then you never will.

I was given five senses for a reason. I like to use ALL of them. They're all a gateway.

You're statement and "logic" is as silly as me saying maybe you don't need to see the elements because you think it's more "mystical" that way. God Himself being brought present where there was mere bread and wine a nanosecond ago is mystical enough for me.

I am jealous if someone else gets to gaze on the Lord longer than I am. If I'm "in" I'm ALL IN.


Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,

You have a thoroughly Protestantized understanding of Faith, mystery and liturgy.

The 2000 year tradition of Eastern Catholicism employs the iconostasis - a physical wall between the nave and sanctuary.

You see Karen, everything in our Holy Faith has to do in someway or another with the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, God placed Cherubim with flaming swords so that man could never reenter the Garden. The Garden was the place where man was in proximity and in contact with God. Man now lost this privilege. He could no longer be in such contact.

In the Hebrew Temple, the Holy of Holies was a liturgical Garden of Eden. A giant veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. What was on that vale? Images of Cherubim with flaming swords. The Holy of Holies was a symbolic Garden of Eden -- it was the place where man, in this case one man, the High Priest, could make contact with God and intercede before God for the needs of the people, and in the case of the Hebrew people under the Old Covenant this took place only once a year. (anyone else who dared approach the Holy Holies, which contained only manna, not the Body of Christ as we have, was slashed to death by Levite priests)

The New Covenant is a continuation and fulfillment of the Old. The same concepts still apply. Now we have the Holy of Holies in every Catholic Church throughout the world. Now, not only the High Priest, but also all Catholic priests can make contact with God, not once per year, but every day.

The 2000 year liturgical traditional of the Catholic Church, both East and West, retains the elements of veiled mystery and separation between the acts of the priest and the laity. The East employs the Iconostasis. In the West the Tabernacle is covered by a veil(or used to be at any rate). The Sanctuary is separated from the Nave by a railing. The Sanctuary is liturgical Heaven (where the Priest makes contact with God), the Nave is liturgical Earth.

In the West, the priest speaks many of the prayers in hushed tones and whispers. Many of his actions are obscured from view. What he is doing is sacred. It is nothing something to be shown on a jumbo-tron in Madison Square Garden, like some sort of Protestant Mega-Church Hootenanny.

Yes, use your five senses to approach holiness at Mass. Liturgical beauty, ornate vestments, statues of saints, stained glass, smoke, chant, sacred polyphony, and the like, all fill our senses as we try and raise our minds to God -- but the greatest sense at Mass is the one our senses all work to support - our imagination -- our mind's eye -- our ability to raise our minds to God, to think about Him, to explore his infinite nature, and also to make our pleas and requests. This type of authentic Catholic spirituality can only happen in Traditional Mass setting, or in a Novus Ordo done like a Traditional Mass.

GOR said...

“…these, or similar words.”

Good for you, Father! I wish more priests followed your example… Not all of us are blessed with the gift of meaningful extemporaneous speech, much less prayer. And for those who are – or think they are – it is often the tip of the iceberg. Given an inch, they take a yard, leading to a ‘do-it-yourself’ liturgy.

There has to be an element of Pride in this, feeling they can ‘improve upon’ the official texts (bad translations notwithstanding!). Unfortunately, in the past 40 years this has become commonplace, even among otherwise orthodox and fervent priests – leading me to a most unedifying, albeit silent, scream: “Say the black, dammit!”

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

We should be careful not to develop a shaky Eucharistic theology here.

Berolinensis sounds a useful warning note when he quotes from the hymn by Aquinas, Adoro te devote.

The following cannot be repeated too often :

There is nothing to see !

There is no discernible change, not even to the priest, when the bread and wine become the Eucharistic species.

The change at the consecration is not physical or chemical, but substantial.

In appearance, the species maintain the forms of bread and wine.

After the consecration, the celebrant elevates the Host and the Chalice for everyone to see and adore.

There is our opportunity to see, but one only "sees" through the eye of faith.

This is one reason why we do not need, or use, a transparent chalice or a transparent ciborium.

Similarly, there is no substantial difference between the Blessed Sacrament exposed and the Blessed Sacrament veiled in the tabernacle. That is why there is no need for a transparent tabernacle.

"Sight, touch and taste in Thee are each deceived."

Your senses tell you one thing. Your faith tells you another.

But the change from bread and wine to the Eucharistic species is real. It truly happens regardless of what we see or believe.

That is why it is ultimately fruitless to employ the I-can't-see argument in any discussion on the celebration of Mass ad Deum.

The Reform of the Reform, and Turning towards the Lord, is inspired by the much deeper need to recover in our worship the sense of the sacred, the awesome, the transcendent, which was misguidedly replaced forty years ago with a banal and impoverished liturgy.

The high altar was replaced with a table altar.
The Mass became an assembly of the people at which the priest presided.
Then the "wreckification" of sanctuaries began.
The tabernacle was hidden away somewhere.
Christ who in the Blessed Sacrament had dwelt on high, was dethroned.

All so that people could see better ?!

God deserves better.

(None of which means a complete ban on Mass versus ad populum. So why all the fuss ?)

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

An afterthought,

Pelerin very correctly observes that "facing the people" was not decreed by Vatican II.

There was a sort of explosion in the 1960s, an emancipation from the old restrictions, a freedom from the old rules, a desire for novelty and change, which not even the Fathers of the Council could control.

(Read what Pope Benedict has written about it. He should know. He was there at the time.)

Thus developed the false spirit of Vatican II, a spirit not constrained by the documents, decrees and directives of the Council.

The liturgical revolution hijacked the earlier liturgical movement and became an uncontrollable juggernaut, rolling faster downhill, developing its own momentum as it went, flattening all before it.

Why was it not stopped early on ?
Not so easy !
Certain people tried and failed.

But it has slowed to a manageable pace now.
Indeed, some say its wheels are coming off.

Now, the rebuilding can begin. It will be a slow and painful process.

It's so much easier to destroy than to build up.

Nevertheless, all will be well !
(Sooner or later)

Simon Platt said...

How I like the anonymous comment: "He is trained to do a job up there. Let him do it."!

gemoftheocean said...

Anon, if being "Protestant" involves having enough guts to sign your name to your opinions, then you can call me "protestant." It isn't even worth arguing with you. Be my guest and call the apostle John who was leaning on the Lord, "protestant." Whatever.

For Fr. Blake... I'm not unsympathetic at all to your plight re: the altar as a barrier. FWIW I think you're quite right that in a given context desks/counters etc. are deliberately used as a barrier, to promote the "power" behind the object. And I can tell you are a genuinely humble man, seeking to submit yourself to the Lord and decrease yourself even further.

FWIW, I don't see the altar as such a barrier. (I suspect many don't but unlike some people I am not clairvoyant -- otherwise I'd be a lottery winner many times over, as evidently more than a few commentators here must be given the certitude with which they purport to read other's minds, hearts, intellectual abilities and interior dispositions.) In the context of the Mass I see the altar as many things. Metaphorically it stands in for the body of Christ, given it is shrouded with the linens, represents the historical very tombs of the martyrs and other saints, given we have the relics in the altar stones, and also the literal table of the Lord, standing in for the table at the last supper. Items can have more than one symbolism and at once. The sacrifice of the Mass is certainly paramount, but there's no denying the communal aspect meant in the "meal" of the Eucharist. We are to take and eat. Meals are family affairs, and through your words and actions God is made present. Mentally at Mass I position myself next to the altar no matter where I am seated, because I am drawing and partaking at the table of the Lord. So it's not a "desk" or a "counter" in my mind. But a family gathering. A gathering of the believers. Not unlike the painting of The Last Supper.... who's on the other side of the table, but the believer? There's room at the table for all who seek. At least that's what I think, contrary to those who make pretense to clairvoyance.

Anonymous said...

There is a short video of extracts from the Holy Father's private Mass in his chapel on the 'Daily Motion' site (under 'Messe Pape'). It is celebrated ad orientem and what surprised me was that it was in April last year.

ServusMariaeN said...

I just read on "Rorate Caeli" the quote regarding the Ad Orientem posture at Holy Mass and the quote from Msgr. Gamber's excellent treatise on the subject:

"The idea that the priest is to face the people during Mass has its origins with Martin Luther, in his little book, The German Mass and Order of Worship (1526).

Klaus Gamber
The Reform of the Roman Liturgy

I thought it apropo when attempting to explain the "versus populum origins to people.

ServusMariaeN said...


I thought this article might be helpful to you. I found it on the "Catholic Culture" website.

**Celebration Of Mass Ad Orientem In A Parish Setting
By Timothy V. Vaverek
Homiletic & Pastoral Review
October, 1999

Anonymous said...


I never called you a Protestant. However, your views on lay participation at Mass are similar to many Protestant reformers, especially someone like Thomas Cranmer.

I tried to say my last post with as much charity as possible.

In your reply you chose the easier road of dismissing me instead of taking on my argument.

And you dismiss me over the silliest thing - not using my name on the blog.

Not all of us reside in a land with freedom nor are employed in a possession where we are free to express our opinions.

gemoftheocean said...

"However, your views on lay participation at Mass"

Wanting to see something is "Protestant?"

Why do the elevation at all if it's not important to "see."

Look, have fun with the TLM. It does have much to recommend it. What I object to, and why I'm bitching so much is because I don't want to see ALL Masses go back that way.

I love the Byzantine Liturgy on paper, and while I'm attending it. HOWEVER, I always feel a little cheated in that I know that there are some interesting gestures, rituals etc. the priest at Liturgy does THAT I WILL NEVER SEE. Sure the spiritual effect of being able to receive the Eucharist is there.

To put it another way "I could have had a V-8."

I want the whole nine yards.

As for not living in a free country - work on it. Why they would "come after you" for your views on if the priest should be facing one way or the other, I have no idea, Unless you are a Chinese priest NOT of the so-called "Patriotic Church" in which case you have my sympathy.

Anonymous said...


Such a driven obsession on not missing out on any action or word of the priest must have a detrimental affect on your interior life, your quite reflection, your prayers, at Holy Mass?

I remember entering a military chapel once for a briefing (military chapels, with seating for many hundreds, are often used to hold big briefings) and the protestant chaplain in charge of the briefing said that he could always tell the Catholics from the Protestants at these events - because the Catholics start filling in the back row in the back of the church, while the Protestants always head for the front of the church and start filling in the front row.

I think this says something on how Catholics' view their sacred liturgy. (Yes this wasn't a liturgy service, but it was still in the Catholic habit to sit in a church in such a way) They are ingrained to enter the Church and sit in the back because they see the liturgy as a supernatural experience - where the supernatural actions between the priest and God and the flowing of grace are not hindered by time and space. Indeed, the graces down from God, through the priest, flowing out of the sanctuary, go out into the whole universe. There is no time or spatial distance when place ourselves in the presence of God.

Also, separately, I'm reminded of the Publican and Pharisee.

" Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

" The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.

" And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner.

" I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather that the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. "

I don't think you are a Pharisee in any way. But the parable is instructive into what our Lord, at least in this instance, judged as righteous worship.

Anonymous said...

I have celebrated the Liturgy versus populum, but on rather rare occasions. Personally I find it distracting, and I feel like a bar tender. I know that is my perception, and I dont judge those who find some value in that form, but the ongoing tradition of the Church is ad Orientem, and for very sound theological reasons, whereas the versus populum for the Eucharistic portion is a concession rather than a norm over the centuries. Face it, forty years or so is hardly a drop in the bucket in terms of Church history vis-a-vis Liturgical norms.

Anonymous said...


I serve in the Byzantine Rite. Believe me there is very little hand gestures used. In fact why dont you volunteer to be an altar server (assuming that you are male); you will find you are doing more ceremonially than is the priest.

Anonymous said...

The fascination by some for seeing what is 'going on' at Mass completely mytifies me. I have attended Mass seated behind a pillar on one occasion where I could not see the altar but I did not feel deprived at all. Mind you that was in the days when the bell was rung at the Sanctus and Elevation so we all knew 'where we were.'

At an outdoor Mass in Lourdes I have found myself with a large leafy tree in between the altar and myself obscuring all view of either the altar or the several hundred priests attending. On this occasion I would have found the bells at the elevation a necessity but as seems to be the custom in France today, they were omitted.
One priest I mentioned this to explained that the altar servers always had difficulty in getting the bells exactly right so it was decided to stop it. A sad excuse I thought!

So yes I need to know when the Consecration and Elevation takes place but I do not need to see the actions - being present, however far away, behind a tree, a pillar or a lage hat is sufficient.

gemoftheocean said...

Look, whichever "anon" it is that did the publican/pharisee thing. Go ahead and rip out all the pews "not in the back." If you really feel that way about personal preference it's up to you to "educate" your people. "Hey, you front sitters, go sit in the back. You don't look very humble to me."

At least if I sit up front I'm not castigating those behind me.

I guess the cardinals/bishops etc. that attend Mass in St. Peter's should show the way to humility by also sitting in the back.


And anon server, it would make sense, if I were male, but given I'm not, in a Byzantine Liturgy 50% percent of the people are NEVER going to get the opportunity to see "what little the priest does." NOT ONCE. EVER.


The Digital Hairshirt said...

If a person is able to sit behind a pillar or a leafy green tree that obstructs their view and must wait to hear the bells, and yet feel they have fully received the benefit of being at Mass, then an altar between the priest and people should not be a barrier.

I say all churches be in the round and we recline on chaise lounges around the altar since that more closely mimics the position that Jesus and the Apostles took at the Last Supper.

As for veiled mysteries, it is a rubric invented by man to elevate what he finds holy. At the Supreme Sacrifice, Jesus was in open view on Calvary - no Star Chamber executuon there - and at His death the curtain in the temple was ripped.

Just my $.02

Anonymous said...

If we are just remembering the Last Supper then we are forgetting that the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary.
It is the self offering of God the Son himself to the Father, therefore it is the liturgy of heaven. It is a serious protestant error to merely see it terms of a recapitulation of the last supper.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Nick, I have just a post up about this.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...