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Weekly Message from out Pastor – 12/31/2017

Dear Parishioners,

So for nearly 40 years we were living a contradiction in the Liturgy. Then Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna wrote a letter to the Congregation of Divine Worship and the discipline of the Sacraments and asked what the priest should do. Should he follow the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) or the rubrics? In response, Cardinal Estevez, the Prefect of the Congregation (Vatican Dicastery), said that the GIRM # 299 when stating that the altar should be built away from the wall and that the priest faces the people, is merely making a suggestion and the Latin word used is “expedit” not any Latin word that would convey an obligation. We can see again a fault in the English translation in choosing the word “should” here. Cardinal Estevez goes on to say, “If the priest celebrates versus populum (toward the people), which is a legitimate and often advisable, his spiritual attitude ought always to be versus Deum per Jesus Christum [toward God through Jesus Christ], as representative of the entire Church. The Church as well, which takes concrete form in the assembly which participates, is entirely turned versus Deum [towards God] as its first spiritual movement.” So we can see that even when the priest celebrates facing the people he should be facing God (thus a crucifix on the altar he can see to concentrate and not be distracted by the goings on among the people, and the people should be facing God not the priest, and if they really did that they wouldn’t notice which way he was facing. So anyone who would say, “I don’t like it when the priest turns his back on me at Mass.”, betrays their own ignorance of where they are supposed to be focused and what they are supposed to be doing. Basically in this Protocol #2036/00/L Cardinal Estevez says that both ways are legitimate, but in either stance the priest and the people should be focused on God not each other to the exclusion of God. He goes on to say, “It appears that the ancient tradition, though not without exception, was that the celebrant and the praying community were turned versus orientem [toward the East], the direction from which the Light which is Christ comes. It is not unusual for ancient churches to be “oriented” so that the priest and the people were turned versus orientem during public prayer.”

(to be continued)