Rorate Caeli

Conversi ad Dominum


Speaking on the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity during his General Audience this Wednesday, Pope Benedict made a liturgical observation:
In the liturgy of the ancient Church, after the homily, the Bishop or the presider of the celebration, the main celebrant, said, "Conversi ad Dominum". Then he and all [others] stood up and turned towards the East. All wished to face towards Christ. Only if converted, only if in this conversion towards Christ, in this common facing of Christ, we may find the gift of unity.
Monsignor Klaus Gamber explained in detail how that ancient liturgical setting worked in his study "Conversi ad Dominum: The Turning Towards the East by the Priest and Faithful During the Celebration of the Mass During the 4th and 5th Centuries", and also in his classical work on the Reform of the Roman Rite:
What in the early Church and during the Middle Ages determined the position of the altar was that it faced East. To quote St. Augustine: "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth..., but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God." This quotation shows that the Christians of those early days, after listening to the homily, would rise for the prayer which followed, and turn towards the East. St. Augustine always refers to this turning to the East in prayer at the end of his homilies, using a set formula, Conversi ad Dominum ("turn to face the Lord")
(...)
As we have already observed, in this type of setting, the liturgy was celebrated from behind the altar in order to face East when offering the Sacrifice. But this did not represent, as might be implied, a celebration versus populum, since the faithful were facing East in prayer as well. Thus, even in the basilicas just described, the celebration of the Eucharist did not entail the priest and the faithful facing one another. During Mass, the faithful, men separated from women, were assembled in the two side naves, with curtains normally hanging between the columns. The center nave was used for the solemn entrance procession of the celebrant and his assistants to the altar, and the choir was situated there as well. Even if we take the hypothetical case that the early Christians in the old Roman basilicas did not face the entrance—that is, the East—during the Offertory prayer—i.e., that they really faced the altar—this still would not have meant that the priest and the faithful faced one another, because during the Eucharistic Prayer the altar was hidden behind curtains. (...)

... many are under the impression that this [from versus Dominum to versus populum] change simply represents the revival of an early Christian practice. But we can show with certainty that there has never been, neither in the Eastern nor the Western Church, a celebration versus populum (facing the people); rather, the direction of prayer has always been towards the East, conversi ad Dominum (turned toward the Lord).

The idea that the priest is to face the people during Mass has its origins with Martin Luther, in his little book, The German Mass and Order of Worship (1526).

Klaus Gamber
The Reform of the Roman Liturgy
(Die Reform der römischen Liturgie: Vorgeschichte und Problematik)
______________________________________
For devotions for the Chair of Unity Octave, see here.

16 comments:

Joe B said...

So let's change back.

No, no, we can't do that. That's not what the Pope was trying to say. He was just trying to say let's face God in prayer, each local custom to prevail.

Modernism. The enemy of tradition. Friend of the enemies of Christ.

schoolman said...

The Benedictine reform continues with small and large steps forward. Perhaps the latest large step has already been announced…an assessment and revision of the 1983 Code of Canon law:

“The 1983 Code of Canon Law, the archbishop acknowledged, is “like all human works … perfectible.”

The upcoming congress will aim “to identify certain points in need of a little restoration,” he said.”

See the following from Zenit:

http://zenit.org/article-21573?l=english

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else get the feeling, that it stating this...in addition to celebrating Mass "ad orientam" last week in the Sistine Chapel, our wonderful Holy Father Benedict XVI is preparing us for a perhaps soon to come ruling that we are to go back to older, original altars, with the priest "with his back to the people" while saying Mass.
I would not be surprised if there is soon a document issued by or in the name of the Pope ordering a return to the "ad orientam" posture for priests celebrating Mass, and a supression of the horrible Protestant-style table altars that have been set up in front of magnificent altars which are in many cases true works of art.
Bit by bit, I think Benedict XVI is preparing us for it....and the ruling will come sooner than we think with little or no prior announcement.

Belloc said...

We "turn toward the Lord," but that still leaves the sacrilege of Eucharistic ministers and Communion in the hand, not to mention the abomination of girl altar boys.

The Holy Father has many rows yet to hoe.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 1 said...
Does anyone else get the feeling, that it stating this...in addition to celebrating Mass "ad orientam" last week in the Sistine Chapel, our wonderful Holy Father Benedict XVI is preparing us for a perhaps soon to come ruling that we are to go back to older, original altars, with the priest "with his back to the people" while saying Mass...

Good luck! Seems that most older churches have had their altars removed in favor of the modernist's table, and on the other hand, the awful new churches never had altars, but only tables to re-enact the Lord's Supper and not offer the Mass.

Anonymous said...

The Holy Father may well be setting the stage to change the NO to be a "Conversi ad Dominum" Missae as well. Interiorly, I am convinced that this is where the Holy Father is going with this.

The other NO abuses as belloc aptly stated will be further battles to fight. The fact that the Holy Father is intent on "applying the reforms on V2" may mean that he will clean up a good number of these abuses if God permits him the time. He has already made numerous calls to return to Gregorian chant and away from profane music.

But we have not heard ANYTHING at all to give us hope on: (a) reinforcing communion on the tongue as the standard worldwide; (b) Lay Eucharistic ministers, many of whom are not properly catechized to begin with; (c)Reinforcing and teaching the proper virtue of modesty in dress for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and particularly head coverings for women; (d) ad hoc additions/deletions to the text of the Missale; (e) Clown masses, children's masses, politician's masses, Harry Potter masses, sodomite masses, and all the other variants of the NO actually practiced throughout the world; (f)
4 Eucharistic prayers, plus local approved variants.

Other problems remain:
The largest one being the ecumenical aspect - the announcement of an "ecumenical" chapel where pagans, heretics and schismatics can offer their various sacrifices and worship, none of which are pleasing to God, along with Catholics, at St Paul outside the Wall, *apparently* has the go ahead of the Holy Father.

Add to this, the lingering rumours that the Holy Father will scrub the Good Friday prayer of conversion from the 1962 Missale, and we have an ecumenical problem now on top of all the rest.

Let's pray much for the Holy Father. In this author's humble view, BXVI is still a long way off from Holy Tradition.

In JMJ, Joseph John Francis

Fr. John said...

Anonymous 1,
I do not think that the Holy Father will go as far as you suggest, but rather I could see that he might openly state that the Ad Orientem posture is indeed a venerable and viable option, provided that much proper catechesis paves the way for the implementation of its use. A blanket requirement of the ad orientem posture is still quite a number (20+) of years off and may in time prove to be unnecessary. The recent sea change regarding discussion about the liturgical east coupled with younger priests who are not burdened by "spirit of Vat II" sentiments may prove to be enough to turn things around. pun intended :)

Joe B said...

So we've moved on to the next irritant, facing East. Another warning. Any results from the other great suggestions? Those patient wolves in their orders and dioceses are just waiting and resisting, and the Pope just keeps on asking. In the end, if he doesn't fire a bunch of them or perform THE CONSECRATION, I see him failing like the rest.

I hope I'm wrong, but the pattern is warning, warning, and then on to the next irritant. And the wolves know it.

Cosmos said...

Perhaps he has already taken the most important step: by admitting that many of the innovations of the last few decades were incomplete, unnecessary, and misguided, and by bringing traditionalists back into the argument. It used to be that when I expressed a traditionalist perspective to one of my Catholic friends they would respond with a "Spirit of Vatican II" stock response and refuse to hear anything else. Now, they still respond with the same canned answers, but are very open to my perspective if I can show that the source of my opinion is Benedict. I consider that a big deal, and I think that the tradition will see a slow but steady return in the seminaries if Benedict is around for a while- God willing- or his successor is of like mind.

LeonG said...

The Code of Canon Law requires revision since as Pope John Paul II (RIP) stated in Sacrae Disciplinae Leges 1983 "..the Code, not only because of its content but also because of its very origin, manifests the spirit of this Council...". Thus, we cannot escape the fact that many of the novel norms and values of the modern church in various places have come to interpret the laws of the church in the light of much ambiguity. Ad populum liturgy is but one expression of this novel orientation. Priests with only 4 years training and no knowledge of St Thomas Aquinas is another & the Sacraments & how they are administered present another formidable corpus of work . And so on..........

There is much work to do but the Holy Father has begun by grasping the nettle.

Anonymous said...

If you are close to 70 years old do not expect to experience all the corrections to come. Many of the existing problems are a result of poor priestly formations. That generation will have to die before a return to tradition becomes possible once more. [Many lay people in the "ministerial" ranks must also pass on because they are the enforcers and enabler as well.]

Anonymous said...

Dear sir:

The brazilians pro-lifers heed help. Urgent help. The scandal of the DVD produced with a statement of a known pro-abortionist continues.

Until now, CNBB (Brazilian Bishops Conference) didn´t gave any public statement about the scandal. The Verbites, same thing. All that despite the documented proofs of the sabotage of Fraternity Campaign.

The CNBB just gave an order to recall the first edition of the DVD. Despite that, the first edition of DVD with the abortionist statement still can be bought in catholic bookstores.

Not a single bishop gave any statement... The Charismatic Renewal´s leaders contacted by some pro-lifers also did nothing about it. The only priest who is giving the deserved importance to the issue is Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz, a brazilian pro-life champion:

http://www.providaanapolis.org.br/desvend.htm
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.providaanapolis.org.br%2Fdesvend.htm&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8


A group of lay person who send a letter to Bishop´s Conference, the only response was that first edition was put off the market. No explanation at all! No excuses! Nothing. See:

http://www.veritatis.com.br/article/4707
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.veritatis.com.br%2Farticle%2F4707&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8

http://www.veritatis.com.br/article/4717
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.veritatis.com.br%2Farticle%2F4717&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8



Also, some blogs are giving news about the issue:

http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/09/mensagem-para-voce/
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdiasimdiatambem.wordpress.com%2F2008%2F01%2F09%2Fmensagem-para-voce%2F&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8


http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/vamos-discutir-sobre-o-aborto-sem-sensacionalismo/
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http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/big-dvd-brasil/
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http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/coletanea-dulce-delirio/
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http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/this-blog/
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http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/fato-verbo-filmes-e-antiga-parceira-de-ong-pro-aborto/
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdiasimdiatambem.wordpress.com%2F2008%2F01%2F21%2Ffato-verbo-filmes-e-antiga-parceira-de-ong-pro-aborto%2F&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8


http://diasimdiatambem.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/life-site-news-cnbb-coopera-com-agenda-abortista/
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdiasimdiatambem.wordpress.com%2F2008%2F01%2F23%2Flife-site-news-cnbb-coopera-com-agenda-abortista%2F&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8

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http://opalavrorio.blogspot.com/2008/01/igreja-e-abortistas-repercusso-ii.html
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http://opalavrorio.blogspot.com/2008/01/igreja-e-abortistas-repercusso-ii.html
Tranlate: http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fopalavrorio.blogspot.com%2F2008%2F01%2Figreja-e-abortistas-repercusso-ii.html&langpair=pt%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8


http://opalavrorio.blogspot.com/2008/01/igreja-e-abortistas-repercusso.html
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http://opalavrorio.blogspot.com/2008/01/verbitas-catlicas-pelo-direito-de.html
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http://opalavrorio.blogspot.com/2008/01/mais-sobre-cnbb-e-abortistas.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/rogaem-por-ns-e-por-seus-filhos.html
Tranlate: http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/rogaem-por-ns-e-por-seus-filhos.html


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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/carta-aberta-aos-verbitas.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/dulce-quer-debater.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/assim-que-se-faz.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/assim-que-se-faz-2.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/assessoria-da-cnbb-diz-o-bvio.html
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http://contra-o-aborto.blogspot.com/2008/01/um-comentrio-que-merece-resposta.html
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We need help here. Please, any publicity about this is a bless to us, brazilians pro-lifers. Out shepperds are deff to his flock and the enemies of the Church are enjoying all this mess.

God Bless!

Nickname said...

The sooner people realise that Mass facing the people is a Lutheran innovation the better.

Anonymous said...

Regaring the Code of Canon Law: the Pope is the Legislator. He can change it whenever he wishes. This code was a fabrication of JPII. Benedict XVI is fully able to make changes. That is a privilege reserved to the Pope.

schoolman said...

The assessment and pending "restorations" in the code is a huge deal. This is what the Holy Father said on this today to those who are about to get into the work:

http://zenit.org/article-21611?l=english

Stephen said...

Whoa! If the Pope is the ultimate legislator, what's to stop the next Pope from changing everything Benedict does? Nothing!!!! So either you're wrong, or the Papacy is hardly some bastion of stability. More like a risk magnifer.