Recovering the Sacred
Even before his election as the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict has been urging us to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship and, for that reason, I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when he celebrates Mass at the Cathedral.
This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation makes explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together.
It would also be a mistaken notion to look at the recovery of this ancient tradition as a mere “turning back of the clock.” Pope Benedict has spoken repeatedly of the importance of celebrating Mass ad orientem, but his intention is not to encourage celebrants to become “liturgical antiquarians.” Rather, His Holiness wants us to discover what underlies this ancient tradition and made it viable for so many centuries, namely, the Church’s understanding that the worship of the Mass is primarily and essentially the worship which Christ offers to His Father.