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I Agree: Excitement Over Card. Sarah’s “Ad Orientem” Remarks Misplaced July 7, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Restoration, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.

Many folks have been expressing a great deal of excitement that Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made an exhortation calling for the Novus Ordo to be offered Ad Orientem.  I agree with Rorate Caeli in finding this excitement badly misplaced.  That is to say, his words, while nice and comforting to conservative/traditional ears, perhaps, are meaningless in any real, effective sense.  Nothing will change, as they did not change after Cardinal Arinze many times called for Latin in the Mass and Communion received on the tongue. The fundamental issue, as Rorate notes, is that modernists/progressives do not respond to exhortations, even pronouncements of solemn law barely move a few to stop blocking the open offering of the TLM as per Summorum Pontificum.

As for exhortations and blandishments, they just laugh them off and continue secularizing and de-sacralizing the Mass:

Cardinal Sarah in a speech to the Sacra Liturgia conference in London yesterday invited priests to start celebrating (the New Mass of Paul VI) facing the liturgical east (versus Deum), that is, facing the altar.
His words, by way of the Catholic Herald:
“It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes.” … “I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible.”
He said that “prudence” and catechesis would be necessary, but told pastors to have “confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people”.
Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, when we attend ‘the Lord who will come’ and ‘who will not delay’.”
A quick interjection – I’ve written about the “but” statements of Vatican II, where a statement of orthodoxy is obliterated by a following “but” that obliterates all that came before.  So, Latin is to be retained, BUT local need can supersede this, so goodbye Latin.  This statement about “pastoral judgment” is all the excuse the vast majority of priests, even many somewhat orthodox ones, need to never, ever implement Ad Orientem.  Unless this is issued as a command, only a tiny few would ever implement it.  I am thinking of one local priest who might find in this a exhortation to try Ad Orientem again after stopping due to an unhappy bishop, but we’ll see.  I can’t think of many others who would even try.

There have been enthusiastic reactions to these words…unseen since the Prefect of Divine Worship was Cardinal Arinze in the early 2000s…and Cardinal Cañizares!

In the end, it is not for a lack of good words from the Prefects of Divine Worship that the liturgical situation worldwide has remained a mess (we emphasize “worldwide” — it is not because there are interesting celebrations, usually imitating the Traditional Mass, in very specific parishes in Britain, the occasional American haven, or one or other place that the global situation has improved at all).

In the end, especially in our age of over-centralization of liturgical decisions, only liturgical Law really matters. A Cardinalatial suggestion will remain a mere unheard suggestion. In the end, the only act that made a difference was the act of law called “Summorum Pontificum”.

I used to get all excited when an Arinze or a Burke would call for some more orthodox liturgical practice, but even distant observation revealed that nothing ever changed as a result of these.  Even more, over time, I became increasingly convinced, to the point today of absolute metaphysical certitude, that the Novus Ordo is fundamentally disordered and cannot be fixed by even major changes.  The whole thing has to be abandoned, eventually, and a total return made to the Mass of Ages.  Or, I could put it another, more gentle way:  to fix the Novus Ordo completely would be to so change it that it would be indistinguishable from the TLM.  So why not just stick with what God, through revelation and the long effort of Saints and holy souls, gave us?

Then again, a different religion requires a different form of worship, does it not?  I know this may sound exclusionary and even arrogant, but I have also come to very firmly believe that the Novus Ordo as presently constituted (more or less) is inseparable from the crisis in the Church.  It IS the crisis in the Church.  Yes there are much more reverent ways to offer it, some of which are not entirely without merit, but it remains at best a pale imitation.  An imitation that informs and directs so many of the sweeping, humanizing changes we have seen in the Church in the past 50 years.
I believe, fix the Mass, and you will fix the Church – and we are waaaay past band-aid solutions.


1. Branch - July 7, 2016

“I became increasingly convinced, to the point today of absolute metaphysical certitude, that the Novus Ordo is fundamentally disordered and cannot be fixed by even major changes.”

I’m not disagreeing with your view of the NO, but let me ask, if this is true, how could it have possibly been the work of God? How can the Church gives us – and God – something fundamentally disordered in her worship? Is not the universal ordinary magisterium infallible? Is not the Church incapable of introducing into her worship anything harmful or fundamentally disordered?

Tantumblogo - July 7, 2016

I don’t know how to reconcile it, Branch. Either I am forced to disbelieve my eyes and all the experience I have, or I can call it like I see it. But how that fits into the OUM and the authority of the Church, I don’t know. That’s sort of a cop out (or is very much a cop out), but as a defense I think we’re dealing with mysteries on the level of the Trinity as the Church goes through her passion. I don’t know how the Church persists in spite of all this chaos/crisis, but I believe she does. As for drawing conclusions from all this evidence, that’s something I’ve been reticent to do, for many reasons.

Maybe blogs aren’t the best place to turn to for deep theological answers? I really don’t know.

2. Brian Springer - July 7, 2016

A very astute analysis. I am of the same mind. You’re point that the only way to fix the Novus Ordo is to make it virtually indistinguishable from the Traditional Latin Mass (or any other mass from the other Catholic rites) rings true. I said something similar long ago.

Anyway, I’ll reiterate by saying that while it is nice that there are prelates out there encouraging good practices, it doesn’t really mean such, since, as you have written, the new Mass has significantly altered the way many perceive the liturgy. Ad Orientem doesn’t make sense when your perception of the Mass is man-centered. And, as it has been long obvious, the New Mass is thoroughly imbued with an anthropocentric spirit.

3. Richard M - July 7, 2016

I also have been through enough of these things to keep the expectations low. A handful of the most traditional bishops may well feel encouraged to try this out (as Bishop Rey said he would in his follow up talk after Sarah’s, and as Bishop Conley has already done in Lincoln), but they were bishops likely to try it anyway. This just gives them a little more cover in doing so. Maybe it gives ad orientem a wee bit more legitimacy, especially for young priests (older ones are mostly hardened sinners). It can’t hurt.

So I don’t see how this can be anything but a good thing – just not very much of one. I think we ought to express our thanks to His Eminence, and give encouragement for more such expressions. It’s all we’re going to get out of this pontificate, honestly. Things are going to have to get worse in the Church before they get better, as today’s appointment of the ordinary of Chicago to the Congregation of Bishops reminds us.

4. Baseballmom - July 7, 2016

Yes, it is only a bit of light…. But at this point, when most of us are in diabetic comas from decades of Twinkie theology, even a bit of healthy nourishment helps feed the starving soul…

Daze Inde - July 7, 2016


5. Daze Inde - July 7, 2016

I disagree that nothing changes. Here is what changes. You get to report the abuse to the Cardinal.

Tantumblogo - July 7, 2016

What abuse? He didn’t make it a law. He left ample wiggle room for pastors right there in the interview.

I don’t comprehend what would even constitute an abuse in this case. Not heeding a voluntary exhortation to offer Mass Ad Orientem?

Richard M - July 9, 2016

It works both ways, you know.

Had Francis appointed Piero Marini or Arthur Roche as CDW prefect – and that nearly happened, I hear – we’d instead likely be faced with a CDW Prefect making speeches at Liturgical Press confabs to urge priests to make more aggressive use of EMHC’s and more “inculturation” in their Masses. And conservative priests would be just as free (in law, at least) to ignore every word of it, assuming they had the courage to do so – just like many of us try to ignore every press conference or homily Pope Francis gives.

There’s a lesson in here: The reason to follow Cdl Sarah’s urgings isn’t really because the CDW prefect said it (however nice that is). It’s because it’s most compatible with the ancient and constant tradition of the Roman Rite and its various uses. We’ve been dependent on Rome to keep the side up for so many generations, and we ended up creating a monster of ultramontanism that proved lethal the moment the wrong people got control of it.

I’d like versus populum banned, too. But that just isn’t going to happen in this pontificate. It didn’t happen in the last one.

6. CM Rosary - July 8, 2016

I think it’s entirely possible that the Novus Ordo is the “abomination of desolation” referenced by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at Matthew 24:15 (q.v. Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11).

Leaving aside any spurious notions of Bugnini’s Masonry, he scarcely “ceated” anything at all, as commonly alleged; rather, he lifted the entire thing from the Book of Common Prayer. It is, quite simply, nothing more than the invalid Episcopal service. Witness it yourself:

Rite I: https://youtu.be/ioix3uJyJmA
Rite II: https://youtu.be/APybNbpm4K0

You can find the Book of Common Prayer here: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/downloads/book_of_common_prayer.pdf

Tantumblogo - July 8, 2016

I can speak directly to this. I’m a former Episcopalian. When I first started assisting at Mass with my wife, I was amazed to find that the Catholic Mass was identical, word for word, with the Episcopal “liturgy.” This is absolutely not the case with the TLM.

davedecleenehawaii - July 9, 2016

Thank you for this honest and somber reaction to the most excellent Cardinal Sarah’s exhortation. I agree with you. And we Catholics in Hawaii have nowhere to turn, no other parish to attend; all is Progressive. And, as Richard M referenced above concerning Cupich’s new appointment to serve as America’s director of bishop placement, the Hawaii Liturgical & Catechetical Syndrome will be coming soon to a diocese near you.

Richard M - July 9, 2016


Does Blessed Sacrament in Honolulu still have its Sunday TLM at 10? Or do you live on one of the other islands?

Richard M - July 9, 2016

This is what happens when you give a passel of second rate academics with terminal cases of Mainline Protestant envy a free hand to rebuild your entire liturgy.

7. kimzef2015 - July 8, 2016

Francis will be so happy that Catholics will be facing Mecca as well!

8. MrT - July 9, 2016

I don’t think either pulling out the pom-poms for an ad orientem NO Mass or Rorate Caeli’s snarky reaction are beneficial. To me the exhortation was just an encouragement from His Eminence to any bishop with orthodox leaning who happened to be listening to give ad orientem a try. What I find disturbing about these exhortations is the silly hope that both the EF and the OF can “enrich each other”. Kind of like cutting real maple syrup with fakey brown corn syrup.

9. MrT - July 9, 2016

His Eminence’s exhortation was an encouragement to any bishop willing to listen to give ad orientem a try, and no more. So pulling out the pom-poms for the notion that every parish will soon celebrate the NO ad orientem is for squirrels, and Rorate Caeli’s snarky reaction is uncalled for. IMHO.

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