Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, set the neo-conservative world ablaze with excitement a few days ago when, as reported by National Catholic Register, he “called on all Catholic priests to start offering Mass ad orientem (facing east), beginning on the first Sunday of Advent.”
Well, he didn’t actually “call” for anything; he just kinda sorta suggested that ad orientem worship might be something worth considering at some point in the future, maybe.
Speaking at the opening of the Sacra Liturgia conference in London on July 5th, His Eminence said of the Eastward facing posture:
I want to make an appeal to all priests … Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this [ad orientem posture] is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year … may be a very good time to do this.
How weak can one hero be!
Even so, this was enough to prompt a blogger at Chant Café to exclaim: Thank you, Your Eminence, for your leadership!
In the dialogical post-conciliar world of pusillanimous popes, castrated cardinals and balless bishops, a Roman prefect pleading his case at a conference is what passes for a bold initiative, I suppose.
Viewed through a traditionalist (aka Catholic) lens, however, a different picture emerges.
Cardinal Sarah’s appeal – even if it is widely heeded (which it won’t be) – can only serve to perpetuate the current ecclesial crisis by further deceiving the faithful in matters liturgical; ultimately delaying the inevitable, which we will get to momentarily.
The real problem lies not so much in Cardinal Sarah’s lack of authentic leadership as it does in the preposterous nature of his premise as summed up rather succinctly in the title to his address, “Towards an Authentic Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium.”
After more than fifty years, neo-conservatives are still searching in vain for the real conciliar reforms; the ones that if only we follow faithfully will surely bring about a glorious new Springtime.
The depths of denial on display here is nothing short of diabolical. In truth, Sacrosanctum Concilium isn’t the answer to the current liturgical crisis; it’s the very root of the problem.
Cardinal Sarah, devoted man of the Council, declared just the same:
We must be utterly clear about the nature of Catholic worship if we are to read the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy correctly and if we are to implement it faithfully.
Ah but the ol’ hermeneutic of continuity approach dies hard, does it not?
The fact of the matter is, however, when one applies a clear understanding of Catholic worship (in particular Holy Mass) to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document is immediately revealed as condemnable.
For instance, right out of the gate, the Constitution states the very purpose of the proposed liturgical reform:
This sacred Council desires… to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. (SC 1)
That’s right; a desire to turn Holy Mass into a tool for ecumenism is the driving force behind the reforms that were forced upon the rite after the Council – not in spite of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, but because of it.
This is how we ended up with the protestantized rite known as the Novus Ordo Missae!
And yet, intransigent promoters of the conciliar fallacy, like Cardinal Robert Sarah, insist on the ludicrous notion that an authentic implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is the key to restoring liturgical sanity.
Want more evidence of the Council’s guilt?
“The Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them [the sacred rites] with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community … The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.” (SC 21, 34)
Though the phrase “noble simplicity” had been used well prior to the Council to describe the traditional Roman rite (yes, in all of its glorious, triumphalistsic, grandeur), the Council Fathers not only neglected to define it; they coupled it with the preposterous notion that mere mortals like us should be able to easily “comprehend” the mystical encounter with Christ that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
This is how we got the dumbed-down, earthbound service that emerged after the Council!
More examples of the Council’s role in the liturgical destruction that followed can be found on this blog, but I trust the point has been well made enough.
Returning to the topic of ad orientem worship, Cardinal Sarah – if you will allow for a bit of bluntness – shows his incompetence when he states:
“This practice is permitted by current liturgical legislation. It is perfectly legitimate in the modern rite.”
Not only is the ad orientem posture “legitimate” and “permitted,” the missal for the new Mass actually presumes it.
For instance, there are several places where the priest is explicitly instructed to face the people; e.g., at Orate fratres and Ecce Angus Dei, with the obvious presumption being that he is not facing the people prior to that point.
Be that as it may, the Novus Ordo is precisely what the nefarious masterminds of the Council desired and the naïve would-be defenders of tradition accepted; a protestantized rite that is deliberately designed to make heretics feel right at home by drawing attention away from the sacrificial and propitiatory nature of the Mass; downplaying the unique identity of the priest; expanding the number of Bible readings; placing undue emphasis on preaching, and exaggerating the role of the laity.
This is the reason the majority of new Mass-goers have little if any sensus Catholicus.
Sure, all things being equal, the traditional ad orientem posture is to be preferred over the overwhelmingly more common versus populum posture that dominates the Novus Ordo.
All things, however, are not equal; while the traditional Mass impeccably communicates the true Faith and the reality of its essence, the Novus Ordo Missae is a poisonous, schismatic rite that all-too-often leads to a loss of Catholic faith.
Cloaking the new Mass with sacred signs taken from tradition only makes it appear less dangerous and ultimately just delays the inevitable; its wholesale abrogation.