Sunday, January 13, 2008

The significance of Pope Benedict XVI's Ad Orientem Mass

Today we witnessed the reorientation of the Mass in the pontificate of Benedict XVI. The Vicar of Christ, during the most sacred part of the Holy Mass, and the entire congregation, "turned towards the Lord," and faced not each other.

It is the most significant step in reorienting the ordinary liturgy, that by this reorientation, our minds, our hearts and our souls will be reoriented back to Christ as we, His faithful together with the priest celebrant, fix our gaze upon Him who suffered and died for us.

Pope Benedict's signal to all Catholics (cardinals, bishops, priests, canon lawyers, liturgists, and the laity) is clear: Celebrating the Mass ad orientem or versus Deum per Iesum Christum (using the Missal of Pope Paul VI and in this case, facing the "liturgical east" or the symbolic east of the liturgy) was never abolished and the Holy Mass can be celebrated as such even with a congregation (men, women, and yes even children!), and that it was perfectly normal for catholics of the Roman Rite of the Church to worship and celebrate Mass oriented in such a way that it had celebrated Mass for centuries (at least before Vatican II for most catholics and even now through the extraordinary form). The language being in Italian also has a significant meaning: it means that celebrating the Mass in such manner, facing the liturgical east, can be done in local churches of the Roman Rite, the church in the Philippines included!

As the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff, mended and created a bridge between the old and the new through his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum given motu proprio we are to see more development in the ordinary liturgy: organic reorientation of the ordinary form. The ordinary form of the Roman Rite will soon be absorbed by the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, reform of the reform fully achieved, spearheaded by no less than the current Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI.

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