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Novus Ordo Illusions: In Liturgy, Words without Law Mean Very Little -- or Nothing at All.

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’.”

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".

Summorum Pontificum is coming under fire in many places, as many correspondents have mentioned to us in the past couple of years: we must do everything to protect and save this law, and not wade in fantasies on the Novus Ordo that should be left in the 1990s, when Summorum did not exist.