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A Biblical case against ‘versus poplorum’? January 14, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Latin Mass, North Deanery, Our Lady, sadness, scandals.

So I finished reading Don Pietro Leone’s comparison of the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass last night, and it was truly fascinating.  I must first distinguish between the Mass that results from the 1970 Missale Romanum, and the documents of Vatican II – they are not the same thing.  While some argue that Sacrosanctum Concilium and other documents “enabled” the drastic change to the rubrics through vague language, I see a marked contrast between what the documents of Vatican II actually said, and what resulted once the liturgical free for all had made its influence felt.  Anyway, regarding one of the most egregious examples of what I will term ‘abuse’ to come from the 1970 Missal is the ripping away of the altars from the east wall of churches and its replacement with freestanding “table” altars, whose intent was to permit the celebration of Mass “facing the people.”  However, if the tabernacle is left in its intended location, at the center of the wall behind the now freestanding altar (whereas it used to be on the altar), this results not just in “facing the people – versus poplorum” but in turning one’s back to God.  Don Leone notes the following with regard to this:

This arrangement recalls the “abomination” of Ezechiel 8:16, where the priests sacrifice with their backs turned to the Sancta Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies [which in our Catholic Faith is the Eucharistic species in the tabernacle – ED]

In fact the objection that in the Old Rite [traditional Latin Mass – ED] the celebrant celebrates with his back to the people should be met with the rejoinder that the deepest significance of all things is determined by their relation to God, and that in the Old Rite the celebrant faces God [who should always rightly be the object of our worship, both externally and internally – ED], whereas in the New Rite he has his back to God [with a concommitant reduction in the amount of focus on God, and the Mass as the ONLY sacrifice acceptable to God]. 

St Theresa of Avila [doctor of the Chuch, and foundress of the Discalced Carmelite order, one of the bulwarks of Tradition – ED] said that she would have been ready to die to preserve the least of the rubrics of the Holy Mass.  How many times would she not have had to die in these years of change!

The arguments in favor of celebrating “facing the people” include the heightened sense of community and the fact that it may keep people more engaged.  But ‘community’ is a very secondary aspect of the Mass, far less important than that Sacrifice that it continually makes present.  With the priest with his back to the tabernacle, with the enormous reduction of the “stupid, useless repetitions” of genuflections, bows, and signs of the Cross, and with focus on the celebrant as entertainer at times, the focus of the Mass as Sacrifice, one we are unworthy to participate in and definitely unworthy to receive, is lost.  There is no question that eucharistic devotion has fallen immeasurably over the past several decades.  We even have noted theologians claiming that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, of the Real Presence of our Lord, is foolish, useless, superstitious, and medieval in character.  There is no question in my mind that changes to the rubrics have been a large factor in the reduction of reverence for the Presence of our Lord in the Mass.

The Church proclaimed at the Council of Trent (Trent session XIII can. 6) “whereas anyone rash enough to deny that Adoration is due to the Blessed Sacrament – Anathema Sit”

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