Ad orientem - 2
Before we continue with the column on this subject last Saturday, let me share a comment on my column yesterday on St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Bacolod. She said that that now she understood why Bacolod had been spared natural and man-made calamities “because of St. Sebastian's protection”.
The original hymn was in Spanish but forgotten for years until I found a 1927 Spanish version with musical score. I discovered that the Hiligaynon translation was incorrect and I wrote the right translation which is now being used.
Back to the continuation of the letter of Columban Fr. Sean Coyle.
“ Pope Francis in his travels often uses Latin for parts of the Mass. I remember that when he was in Albania he said his parts of the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin while the local Cardinal Archbishop used Albanian for his parts.
“ For many years I, like most priests and people, spoke of the priest saying Mass ‘with his back to the people' in the old days – until I read Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy in which he pointed out that the reality is that both priest and people face the altar, a very different thing from the priest ‘turning his back to the people'. And in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City Las Mañanitas are sung to the Blessed Mother, not to the people, after the fiesta Mass, by top singers and musicians.
“ I remember when I was a seminarian laughing when I read about a church sacristan – the church caretaker, not an altar server – in one of our parishes in Dublin. He said that facing the people would distract the priest. But after 50 years as a priest I am now convinced that something precious was lost when we priests began to celebrate Mass facing the people. It is possible to celebrate Mass in a proper and dignified way facing the people and most priests do that. But it has made the priest the center of attention rather than the Lord. And sometimes choirs or other people are applauded during the Mass as if it was a concert. There was no applause on Calvary.
“ The Vatican Council decreed that Gregorian Chant was still the highest form of Church music but it has been lost to the majority. It is a form of singing that transcends national/regional/ethnic cultures – and that anyone can learn. People are not stupid. They know that Kyrie eleison is the Greek for ‘Lord, have mercy'. They know what Gloria in excelsis Deo or Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus mean when the choir in San Sebastian Cathedral sings them, for example.
“ In the USA there is an increase in the number of Masses being celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. And there is also an increase in the number of Masses in the Ordinary Form being celebrated ad orientem. Here in Ireland there is one church in Dublin where all the Masses are in the Extraordinary Form and also one in Limerick. Other places have the TLM, as it is often called, on a regular basis. There is a new Benedictine monastery in the Diocese of Meath, where St Columban's is located, where all the Masses are in the Extraordinary Form and the Divine Office is the pre-Vatican II one, sung in Latin.
“ So the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is always in Latin, though I think that the readings – there are only two, the Epistle and the Gospel – may be read in the vernacular, or may be read after the Latin in the vernacular. It is also celebrated ad orientem, with very rare exceptions.
“ The Ordinary Form of the Mass may be celebrated in Latin or in the vernacular or in a combination of both, ad orientem or with the priest facing the people. When the priest celebrates ad orientem he faces the people for the opening greeting, when reading the Gospel and in a few other places.
“ I think there is one place in Bacolod City where the TLM is celebrated on Sunday. And I know that Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu has celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. ”
He suggest checking the list of Masses in the newspapers.*
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