Fremmed for Kirken at prest og menighet skal se hverandre i øynene under messen

Det arbeides med med å utgi Ratzinger samlede skrifter (i 16 bind) på tysk, og første bind, som for det meste består av hans bok om liturgien, er allerede klar.

I forordet til dette bindet skriver pave Benedikt at det er dumt at det meste av debatten rundt denne boka har dreid seg om hvilken vei presten skal vende når han feirer messen. Dette har tatt oppmerksomheten bort fra mange andre viktige temaer han tar opp. Han er likevel overbevist om at det beste er at presten vender seg til Gud når han feirer messen, slik vi leser i dette utdraget fra forordet (tatt fra NLM-bloggen):

Unfortunately, almost all the reviews [of the Spirit of the Liturgy] have focused on a single chapter: ‘The altar and orientation of liturgical prayer’. Readers of reviews would have had to conclude that the entire work had treated only of the orientation of the celebration and that its content was reduced to wanting to reintroduce the celebration of Mass ‘with your back to the people’.»

«In view of this misrepresentation I thought for a moment to delete this chapter in order to bring the debate onto the real issue that interested me and still interests me in the book.

This was made all the more easily possible [to consider doing] by the fact that in the meantime appeared two excellent works in which the issue of orientation of prayer in the Church of the first millennium was clarified so persuasively. I think first of all the important little book by Uwe Michael Lang, Turning towards the Lord, of particular importance, and the important contribution of Stefan Heid, attitude and orientation of the first prayer in the Christian era (in the Journal of Christian Archeology, 72-2006), where sources and a bibliography on this issue are amply illustrated and updated.

The conclusion is quite clear: the idea that a priest and the people should look one another in the eye was only [an idea] in modern Christianity and is completely alien in the ancient [Church]. The priest and people certainly do not pray to each other, but to the one Lord. They look in prayer in the same direction: towards the East as cosmic symbol for the Lord that is to come, or where this is not possible, to an image of Christ, to a cross, or simply to heaven, as the Lord did priestly prayer in the evening before his Passion (Jn 17:1).

Meanwhile, fortunately the proposal I made in my work at the end of this chapter works its way [into practice] more and more: not a new change, but simply the putting of a cross on the middle of the altar towards which priest and faithful can together look, to be guided in this way to the Lord, [toward which] we all pray together.»

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