Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the "doing" becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being
What are these criteria to be observed by both those who celebrate the new Mass and those who celebrate the old. He singles out the following:
While we are looking at the outward form of the Mass, there is one point where, I believe, Cardinal Ratzinger was wrong. He bases his argument on another great theologian-liturgist, Louis Bouyer. It is about the altar. If priest and people are meant to be facing the same way, when the priest faces across the altar in order to face east, as in St Peter's in early Christian Rome, why did not the people face east too, with their back to the altar? If it is said that they did, where is the evidence that they did? A weakness of Cardinal Ratzinger's treatment of the question is that he has no theology of the altar. In the Eastern Byzantine rite, the altar is called the "throne". It is the mercy-seat where God is present because it is the place where the sacrifice of atonement takes place, as in the Holy of Holies in the temple (see my post on "The Altar"). The centre of the church is the altar, as the centre of the temple was the Holy of Holies. We assemble before the altar where the tri-une presence of God is concentrated in the covenanted relationship. In that presence God speaks to us in the Word, just as truly as he spoke to Moses; as we speak to God, sharing in the very intimate prayer of Christ because we are his body. We are taken up into that presence by participating in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ by means of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we pass through the veil of the heavenly holy of holies which is the flesh of Christ in communion. The altar, in another set of biblical images, is the Holy Table where Wisdom provides a Banquet for her children, where the Marriage Feast of the Lamb is celebrated, where we share in the paschal meal. Above all, it is the place of the Presence, precisely because it is the altar of sacrifice. It is not, in itself, orientated in any direction: all things and people are orientated towards it. It is what some liturgists call "the liturgical East". When the Orthodox bow three times when entering a church or touch their forehead on the floor during Lent, they are ackowledging the presence of the Tri-une God on the mercy-seat, as in the Temple. The altar is the true centre of attention, more than any icon, even of the Crucified. The crucifix is associated with the altar because it reminds the faithful of the two ways the Church is associated with Christ's passion, by its memory down the ages, and its eucharistic presence in the sacrifice of the Mass. All the evidence suggests that the Priest and people faced each other in St Peter's, but both were directing their attention towards the altar. The altar makes sure that priest and people do not form the closed circle condemned by Cardinal Ratzinger because,on its surface, heaven and earth are joined. This is true in the old and in the new rite. Look at a modern church like Clifton Cathedral, Worth Abbey, Liverpool Cathedral or Leyland parish church. What is the central feature? It is not the priest, nor is it the people: it is the altar. What is the most marked feature a a Neo-Catechumenate church? It is the altar. Because he has no theology of the altar, Cardinal Ratzinger misinterpreted the reason why the altar was "turned round". I have seen priests celebrate Mass as though they are talking all the time to the people, and I have always put it down to liturgical ignorance; but the first time I ever saw it written down by a reputable theologian that the Mass is celebrated versus populum so that priest and people can look at each other was when I read Cardinal Ratzinger's criticism of the practice. I have always taken it to be because it allows the people to see what is on the altar; which is why the crucifix is moved to one side: all can see the chalice and paten. When I concelebrated at the Byzantine Christmas Mass, the priests surrounded the altar, even though the principle celebrant faced East. We were all facing different points of the compass, but we were all facing the altar. In the modern Western Mass the sanctuary is the whole church and all are invited on the other side of the iconstasis.
A Deeper Look At The Mass In Pope Benedict's Thought
What Fr Joseph Ratzinger wrote here is absolutely identical to the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. His whole ecclesiology is liturgical because the Mass is the Church's constitution and the liturgy is the source of all the Church's powers and the goal of all its activity, as the Constitution on the Liturgy states. This forms a new paradigm for understanding the whole of Catholicism. Whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is present. When this is carried to its logical conclusion, everything looks different. Such is the foundational position of liturgy in the Church, the product of the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church, that it's texts cannot be abolished by pope or episcopate, nor can it be simply fabricated out of nothing: it is THE main expression of Apostolic Tradition. The infallibility of the Church arises from the Holy Spirit who is invoked in the Liturgy; and dogmas are proclaimed to protect the integrity of our Christian lives and the truth of our worship in which our Christian lives are offered up. The centrality of liturgy gives liturgical texts an enormous authority. In this I would like to quote Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, quite confident the the Pope will agree with every word of it. It is the reason why the substitution of other hymns and prayers, that often happens in South America, is a liturgical abuse. He writes:
What Archbishop Hilarion would say about Orthodox liturgical texts and their relationship to the Orthodox Church, Pope Benedict says about the traditional Catholic liturgy, and he has come to accept of the liturgy as it has been reformed since Vatican II. They have become the "ordinary" and "extraordinary" forms which, in their variety, show the richness of liturgical Tradition. As the source of all the Church's powers and the goal of all its activity, the Eucharist has replaced papal jurisdiction and papal teaching authority as the true source of the Church's unity. Hence, a papal or conciliar dogma is not the highest expression of the Church's acceptance of the Truth: the liturgy is. The goal of a dogmatic pronouncement is to protect the liturgy so that it remains orthodox ("orthodox" means both "right teaching" and "right glory or worship"); and, as the liturgy is the goal of the pronouncement, it needs to be expressed liturgically in some way for it to have really done its job. If a truth is already expressed in the liturgy and believed by the faithful, to define it in a dogmatic pronouncement is a waste of time. As the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is present at every Mass by the power of the Holy Spirit because it is an act of the whole Church, then every patriarch, bishop and priest, with their flocks, are also mystically present.
Here is another quotation from the young, reforming Joseph Ratzinger is clearly an abiding opinion of Cardinal Ratzinger:
This is Cardinal Ratzinger's opinion:
Hence the need for reform and for liturgical movement. The young Joseph Ratzinger and the present Pope was and is to break through what he calls "the wall of Latin" so that people can become participants in the liturgy, receiving spiritual sustenance from the liturgical texts, drawing their piety from the liturgy itself like the Ukrainian Greek Catholics who attended the Christmas celebration in Gloucester. Why then is he not satisfied? Because the liturgical texts have been replaced in too many celebrations. Again, Archbishop Hilarion puts it very succinctly:
There is a lack of wholeness with the "alternation of incoherent, unrelated prayers and hymns", with much piety but little theology. The Pope's solution is the co-existence of the ordinary and extraordinary rites, with each rite trying to put into practice the teaching of Vatican II. He hopes this will lead to cross-fertilization. After all, the same Holy Spirit is functioning in both forms of the rite. However, some priests celebrate as though the whole liturgy is a kind of cosy chat between him and the congregation, and one wonders where God fits in; while others seem to revel in the pre-Vatican II rite from which all influences of Vatican II have been completely excluded.
On the other hand, I live in a small monastery of seven monks on the outskirts of Lima. We have Mass "facing the people" according to the reformed rite. Although no one is tone deaf, we are nothing special and make mistakes. During the week the Mass and Lauds are integrated: on Sunday Mass is celebrated on its own. Visiters have exclaimed, after the Mass is over, "How is it that there is such a sense of the presence of God!" and some have said, "I did not know whether I was in heaven or on earth!" to which I reply, "I think I have heard that somewhere before." Yet we don'y feel "neo-conservative" as the Pope has suggested. It is just Mass. I have taken part in many Masses which could compete, any day, with the most sumptious Tridentine Masses for splendour and with a sense of the sacred, without being neo-conservative. The liturgy at Belmont is a great improvement on what went on before. I would like to see the Pope make a comparison between the reformed rite celebrated at its best, and the Tridentine Mass well performed. If he has done this, I haven't seen it. It might give us a clearer idea of what he is seeking to do.