Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cardinal Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Cardinal Canizares, the Prefect of the Congregation to which my former bishop, now Archbishop, Arthur Roche is the Secretary, says some very interesting things here, and there is a fuller report on Zenit.
It will be interesting to see what the forthcoming instruction says. The Zenit report has the Cardinal reminding us that Vatican 2 did not mention the priest celebrating "facing the people" and stressing that the Altar should face "East". This takes us back to Cardinal Ratzinger's book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy". It seems to me that no one can understand the Holy Father's present concerns about the Liturgy without reading that book (and perhaps even reading Fr. Gamber's book).
There is a suggestion here (which I believe I have already picked up) that the preferred way of celebrating the Mass of the New Missal is in Latin and facing the Cross. Latin because in the Vat 2 document on the Liturgy it is given preeminence, and facing the Cross because this is the long-standing traditional way of celebrating the Mass. As the Holy Father pointed out, this does not mean necessarily re-ordering our churches again, but it does, at least, require us to place a substantial crucifix (rather than a bare cross) on the altar between the priest and the people so that everyone faces the Cross.
The preference for Latin cannot mean disposing of the vernacular otherwise all the work of recent translations would be nonsensical. Rather, a return to the original text of the Council would mean that the vernacular celebration would not be, as it is now, the "norm", but would be a permitted way of celebrating the Liturgy for the sake of the people. In practice this may not lead to any changes in the Parishes as regards the language of celebration for most Sundays, but there is a suggestion here, surely, that there is need for further Liturgical formation and education so that, for example, Latin celebrations would become more common and more acceptable. At the same time, the priest has the option (without reference to any Parish Liturgical Committee for example) of celebrating the Mass facing the Sanctuary rather than the congregation. The more open attitude to the 1962 Missal and the Extraordinary Rite, and the Pope's wish that the two ways of celebrating might be mutually enriching surely opens up the possibility of celebrating the Liturgy in different ways. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinal's stress on reverence and the need for silence in the Liturgy influences our thinking on these matters in the near future.

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