Voltar-se para o Senhor e olhar para o Oriente

Enquanto o sacerdote se coloca na frente do altar, ele não reza em direção a uma parede, mas conjuntamente reza com todos em direção ao Senhor, tanto mais porque o que importava até agora não era formar uma comunidade, mas render culto a Deus por intermédio do sacerdote, representante dos participantes e unido a eles.
Por isto, falando da direção da oração, Santo Agostinho, bispo de Hipona, escreve: “Quando nos levantamos para orar, voltamo-nos para o Oriente (ad orientem convertimur) de onde o céu se levanta. Não que Deus só se encontre ali, ou que tenha abandonado as outras regiões da terra… mas para exortar o espírito a se voltar para uma natureza superior, ou seja, a Deus”.
Isto explica porque os fiéis, depois do sermão, se levantavam de seus assentos para a oração, que seguia, e se voltavam para o oriente. Santo Agostinho os convidada para isso freqüentemente ao terminar seus sermões, utilizando, à maneira de frase já consagrada, as palavras: “Conversi ad Dominum” (voltados para o Senhor!).
Aqui se pode evocar uma palavra de São Paulo. Consciente de que “todo o tempo que passamos no corpo é um exílio longe do Senhor. Andamos na fé e não na visão”, ele deseja estar ausente “deste corpo para ir habitar junto do Senhor” (ad Dominum) (2Cor 5,6-8).
Assim, pois, voltar-se para o Senhor e olhar para o Oriente, para a Igreja primitiva era uma única e mesma coisa.

Monsenhor Klaus Gamber, Voltados para o Senhor!
Traduzido por Luís Augusto Rodrigues Domingues

Card. Sarah: la Chiesa Cattolica ha perso il senso del sacro

La crisi della liturgia è al centro della crisi della Chiesa. Se nella liturgia non mettiamo più Dio al centro, non lo mettiamo nemmeno al centro della Chiesa. Nel celebrare la liturgia, la Chiesa ritorna alla sua sorgente. Tutta la sua ragion d’essere è rivolgersi a Dio, dirigere tutti gli occhi verso la croce. In caso contrario, pone se stessa al centro; diventa inutile. Credo che la perdita dell’orientamento, di questo sguardo diretto verso la croce, sia il simbolo della radice della crisi della Chiesa. Eppure il Concilio aveva insegnato che “la liturgia è principalmente e soprattutto l’adorazione della divina maestà”. L’abbiamo trasformata in una celebrazione completamente umana ed egocentrica, un’assemblea amichevole che si autocelebra.
Non è quindi il Concilio a dover essere sfidato, ma l’ideologia che ha invaso diocesi, parrocchie, pastori e seminari negli anni seguenti.
La banalizzazione dell’altare, dello spazio sacro che lo circonda, sono stati disastri spirituali. Se l’altare non è più la sacra soglia oltre la quale Dio risiede, come troveremmo la gioia di avvicinarci? Un mondo che ignora il sacro è un mondo uniforme, piatto e triste. Vandalizzando la nostra liturgia abbiamo disincantato il mondo e ridotto le anime a una cupa tristezza.
(…)
Mentre la Sacrosanctum Concilium ha ripetutamente raccomandato la partecipazione consapevole e attiva e persino la piena comprensione dei riti, raccomanda in un passaggio la lingua Latina che prescrive che “i fedeli sappiano recitare e cantare insieme, anche in lingua latina, le parti dell’ordinario della messa che spettano ad essi”.
In effetti, la comprensione dei riti non è opera della sola ragione umana, che dovrebbe afferrare tutto, capire tutto, dominare tutto. La comprensione dei riti sacri presuppone una vera partecipazione a ciò che essi esprimono del mistero. Questa intelligenza è quella del sensus fidei, che esercita la fede vivente attraverso il simbolo e che conosce per sintonia più che per concetto.

(Leggi l’intervista completa qui)

Cardinal Sarah: The Catholic Church Has Lost Its Sense of the Sacred

The crisis of the liturgy is at the heart of the crisis of the Church. If in the liturgy we no longer put God at the center, then neither do we put him at the center of the Church. In celebrating the liturgy, the Church goes back to its source. All its raison d’être is to turn to God, to direct all eyes towards the cross. If it does not, it puts itself at the center; it becomes useless. I believe that the loss of orientation, of this gaze directed towards the cross, is symbolic of the root of the Church’s crisis. Yet the Council had taught that “the liturgy is mainly and above all the worship of the divine majesty.” We have made it a flatly human and self-centered celebration, a friendly assembly that is self-aggrandizing.
It is therefore not the Council that must be challenged, but the ideology that invaded the dioceses, parishes, pastors and seminaries in the years that followed.
The trivialization of the altar, of the sacred space that surrounds it, have been spiritual disasters. If the altar is no longer the sacred threshold beyond which God resides, how would we find the joy of approaching it? A world that ignores the sacred is a uniform, flat and sad world. By ransacking our liturgy we have disenchanted the world and reduced souls to a dull sadness.
(…)
While Sacrosanctum Concilium has repeatedly recommended the conscious and active participation and even the full intelligence of the rites, it recommends in one movement the Latin language prescribing that “the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”
Indeed, the intelligence of the rites is not the work of human reason alone, which should grasp everything, understand everything, master everything. The intelligence of sacred rites presupposes a real participatio in what they express of the mystery. This intelligence is that of the sensus fidei, who exercises the living faith through the symbol and who knows by attunement more than by concept.

(Read the complete interview here)

Ad Orientem and Music

The liturgy is Christocentric; it is the action of Christ offering himself to the Father. As the action of the Body of Christ, the whole church offers it, it is in that sense anthropocentric; but, being offered to the Father, it is more importantly theocentric. The synthesis of the two poles is centered upon Christ, true man and true God.
As sacred liturgy, the Mass has a transcendent object—almighty God—and an ultimate goal—happiness with him. But since the liturgy takes place in the here and now, these aspects of transcendence must be expressed in human terms, using human means. Two of the means, space and time, give rise to two important aspects of liturgy—the stance of the priest at the altar and sacred music.

(…)

Sacred things need to be differentiated, so that one kind can be distinguished from another, and so that the more sacred can be perceived as distinct from the less sacred. Thus by spatial differentiation the eastward direction is priviledged over other directions, and the image of Christ over other images.
Time is also used in the liturgy to differentiate the sacred, in kind and degree, and to express the transcendent, particularly through music, the pre-eminent art of time. Important times of the day, Lauds and Vespers, are emphasized by receiving services with more music and slighty more elaborate music. Each day is distinguished from the others by different pieces of music (propers), and the major days easily become associated with their propers. Especially Holy Week and Easter are distinguished from the rest of the year by their unique music.
Likewise music contributes to the sense of the sacred by structuring the time of the the rite it accompanies. By being based upon a sacred text, set to a sacred melody, performed for the duration of a sacred rite, it projects the sense of the sacredness of the rite itself, and extends this in time; the time of the rite by itself would be amorphous, but the addition of music expresses the purpose of the rite by giving it a temporal shape and direction.

(…)

What orientation and music have in common, then, is addressing the transcendent: ad orientem by being a part of a notion of space that is itself transcendent, that is, it is directed to East, not as a geographical direction, but a transcendent one; and Gregorian chant by avoiding the emphasis upon the regular passage of time that is oriented to transcending earthly time and indicating or intimating heavenly time, eternity.

Editorial by William Mahrt in Sacred Music Volume 136, Number 3 Fall 2009 (freely downloadable issue here)

“Ad orientem” worship: help against clericalism

From Fr Z’s blog:

For a moment let’s consider the negative sort of clericalism that is part of the The Present Crisis. There is a good kind of clericalism, in a healthy clerical identity. Let’s admit there is a negative clericalism. Surely it rose, in its present form, with constant focus on the priest who is forced by versus populum celebration to become the center of attention. The older form of Holy Mass kept the priest under tight control and made sure that he, as a person, wasn’t the focus.

Versus populum turning of Mass creates an expectation for the priest to perform and to become the reference point, who hectors (with the help of amplification) into a
“self-enclosed circle” as Joseph Ratzinger describes, but with the priest at the center, not so much as alter Christus but as “Just Call Me Bob”, who just happens to dress up in robes and sit facing the people in a finer chair than Caesar ever had.

Read full post here.

Ad Orientem and Absolutism

Despite half a century of deprecation and de facto prohibition, the desire for ad orientem worship continues to grow, especially among younger priests and lay faithful. Why? Partly, no doubt, the practice’s fall into relative desuetude has given us the privilege of discovering it anew. The more basic and adequate explanation, however, is obvious: it continues to strike a profound chord in the human heart. In a culture of talking heads and information overload, of emotional manipulation and manufactured fellowship, of mutual admiration societies and collective navel-gazing, it’s hardly surprising that many people want to opt out of the cult of personality; that they want to pray with instead of being prayed at; that they want to gaze, together and as one, beyond themselves.

Read the full article by Fr. Charles Shonk, O.P. here.

Il vescovo di Gallup sulla celebrazione ad orientem

MIL ha pubblicato una traduzione in lingua italiana della recente lettera di mons. James S. Wall sulla celebrazione della s. Messa ad orientem nella Cattedrale del Sacro Cuore di Gallup (Nuovo Messico).

Ho deciso che, dopo la recente solennità del Corpus Domini, la Messa domenicale delle 11:00 sarà d’ora in poi celebrata ad orientem nella Cattedrale del Sacro Cuore di Gallup.

Diocese of Gallup (NM) – Turning Toward God

A new letter from Bishop James S. Wall regarding “ad orientem” celebration of the Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral (read it here).

I have decided that, since the recent solemnity of Corpus Christi, the 11:00am Sunday Mass will henceforth be celebrated ad orientem at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Gallup.

(Traduzione della lettera in lingua italiana qui)