For some time now there has been division within some circles in the Catholic Church regarding the liturgy, the most eminent of this relates to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The issue is whether the reforms in the liturgy that followed the Second Vatican Council just over 50 years ago hewed closely to the mandate of the Council.
Many believe the Novo Ordo diverted significantly from the Ad Orientem Eucharistic celebration. The former is what we are using now; the Ad Orientem is commonly known as the Latin or Traditional Mass where, as the name suggests, Latin, the official language of the Church, is used.
Other departures from the traditional Ad Orientem are : the priest celebrates Mass facing the congregation, he has less liturgical vestments, he uses either English or the local language, he goes directly to the altar instead of starting at its foot to seek God's mercy first, the people receive the Sacred Host in their hand or even take the Host from the Chalice while the priest just waits (now proscribed), the laity distribute Holy communion, the Tabernacle is on a side altar instead of being at the center, the communion rail was removed since people receive communion standing instead of kneeling, people just bow a little bit (many not at all) before the Tabernacle instead of genuflecting - and a host of other traditional rituals and practices that were modified, replaced or totally removed.
There are voices within the top hierarchy of the Church that consider the changes as differing from the true intent of the Council. The major points of contention is that the Mass should remain Ad Orientem .
Cardinal Raymond Burke, former head of the Vatican Apostolic Signatura, the Supreme Court of the Church said, "For me the aspect most in crisis is sacrality itself, the transcendence of the liturgical act, the encounter of heaven and earth and the action of Christ himself, through the priest who offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice . "
H e further explained , "That has been cast into doubt after the Council by anthropocentrism, a concept of the liturgy not as a gift of God to us, which we must respect and honor, but as a creation (or invention) of our own."
Anthropocentrism in the Mass is shown by the priest being at focal center rather than the Mass. In the past, the priest faces the tabernacle and turns to the people only occasionally to greet them with Dominus vobiscum , The Lord be with you. As one faithful noticed in Novo Ordo, the priest, facing the people look around as if watching the congregation or observing what's going on rather than focusing on the the Mass and the Tabernacle where Christ is.
Always a strong advocate of the traditional liturgy, Cardinal Burke was among the few prelates who spoke in defense of C ar d ina l Robert Sarah when he proposed a return to ad orientem ("to the East") worship a proposal that earned the African cardinal backlash from fellow prelates. Responding to the label "traditionalist," Burke said he is "delighted" to be given that identification, "because I hope I am able to serve Tradition in my thought and in my priestly ministry. Tradition is Christ Himself."
Tradition, he explained, "is the doctrine defined in the chief magisterial texts of the Church, the Sacred Liturgy just as it has been transmitted to us from the time of Our Lord and the Apostles. They constitute the uninterrupted discipline of the Church."
The voices in favor of the Ad Orientem liturgy is rising in the United States according to surveys. So desirous are some Catholics for the traditional Mass that they travel miles to attend one. Last year, a friend from America asked where he could hear the Latin Mass and I said there is none that I know of in the Bacolod diocese. This Christmas, my sister from Canada also asked about this and I could not say where. My other sister from the US one time asked me while she was on a visit here, where she could hear a Latin Mass.
The late Bacolod Bishop Manuel Yap resisted the changes and not until his death in 1966 did the diocese adopt Novo Ordo . Radical changes exploded with his demise. Altars were turned around and retablos taken down, among many others changes. Can we have both?*
back to top