Søndag for ei uke siden feiret pave Benedikt messen i det sixtinske kapell på det gamle alteret, vendt mot øst/ mot Gud, eller “med ryggen mot folk” som noen sier. Her er en engelsk oversettelse av Vatikanradioens intervju med pavens seremonimester, msg. Guido Marini, som forklarer dette – og også sier enkelte andre ting av pavens liturgiforståelse.
Marini: I think it is important, first of all, to consider the orientation that a liturgical celebration is always called to have: I’m referring to the centrality of the Lord, the Savior crucified and resurrected from death. This orientation must determine the interior disposition of the entire assembly and, consequently, also the external mode of celebrating. The placement of the cross on the altar in the middle of the assembly is able to communicate this fundamental content of liturgical theology. There may then arise particular circumstances which, because of the artistic condition of the sacred place or because of its unique beauty and harmony, it becomes desirable to celebrate at the ancient altar where, among other things, the exact orientation of the liturgical celebration is preserved. In the Sistine Chapel, in the celebration of the baptism, this is exactly what happened. It is a praxis that is allowed by liturgical norms and in tune with conciliar reform.
Question: Public opinion is very aware of this posture which, in part, the Pope has made in the occasion of the feast of the baptism of the Lord: turn the back to the assembly. There are those who read in this a return to the past, even a closing down of the celebrant towards the assembly. Would you instead explain to us what the true meaning of this liturgical posture is?
Marini: In the circumstances in which the celebration occurs according to this mode, it is not so much a matter of turning the shoulders to the faithful, as much as orienting together with the faithful towards the Lord. From this point of view, “the door is not shut to the assembly” but “the door is opened to the assembly” by leading it to the Lord.
In the Eucharistic liturgy we do not look at each other, but we look to Him who is our East, the Saviour. I think that it is also important to remember that the moments in which the celebrant in these cases “turns the back to the faithful” is relatively brief: the entire liturgy of the Word occurs as customary, with the celebrant turned towards the assembly, thus indicating the dialog of salvation that God engages in with His people. Therefore, there is no return to the past, but the restoration of a mode of celebration that does not put into question the teachings and directives of the second Vatican Council.
Question: Mons. Marini, there have been those who, on the wake of the debate that followed the publication of the motu proprio Summorum pontificum read in some moves of Benedict XVI the desire to abandon the conciliar liturgical reform. What do you answer to this kind of speculation?
Marini: They are certainly speculations and incorrect interpretations of both, the motu proprio as well as all the magisterium of Benedict XVI in liturgical matters.
The liturgy of the Church, after all of Her life as well, is made of continuity. I would speak of development within continuity. This means that the Church proceeds in Her historical path without losing sight of Her own roots and Her own living tradition. This might demand, in some cases, even the restoration of precious and important elements which, during the path, may have been lost, forgotten, or that the passing of time has rendered less bright in their authentic meaning.
It seems to me that the motu proprio moves exactly in this direction: reaffirming with great clarity that in the liturgical life of the Church there is continuity, without rupture.
We must not speak, then, of a return to the past, but of a true enrichment of the present in expectation of tomorrow.