Good commentary continues to be generated on the issue of priestly posture at Mass, stimulated by Cardinal Sarah's appeal to priests to use the ad orientem posture beginning this advent. (See the previous roundup here.)
In “Who's Afraid of Ad Orientem?” here at first things, Dr. Christopher Ruddy claims that the dustup over ad orientem is deeper than the presenting issue of priestly posture: “The real issue is … the Church’s identity in time and eternity. That identity touches on history, Vatican II and its reception, ecclesiology, and eschatology.”
In “Why We Should All ‘Face East' During the Eucharistic Prayer,” Msgr. Charles Pope runs down the rationale for ad orientem and calls on Cardinal Sarah to issue his own communiqué on the matter.
In “Showdown in Arkansas over ‘Ad Orientem',” Jeff Ostrowski discusses a letter from the Bishop of Little Rock, Anthony Taylor, which “expects” that Mass “will always be celebrated facing the people in our diocese,” as well as a letter from Bishop Arthur Serratelli, head of the USCCB's worship office, which tried to clarify the matter for the bishops of the United States.
In “The Sacra Liturgia Conference Has Set The Cause of the Reform of the Reform Back by 20 Years. That May Not Be A Bad Thing,” Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, contends that the conference and the Cardinal's speech were ill-advised—“don't press for clarification unless you are sure things will be clarified in your favour”—and suggests the movement for reform of the liturgical reform (basically, repairing the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass) is now mortally wounded, and that we should not mourn its passing. (Fr. Lombardi's statement did state that “it is better to avoid using the expression ‘reform of the reform' with reference to the liturgy, given that it may at times give rise to error.”) Shaw writes:
The reason is not difficult to understand. The Reform of the Reform has the potential, if widely taken up, to turn dozens of parishes into liturgical war zones. Priests who take a stand on any of the major RotR issues can expect confrontations with parishioners with complaints going to the Bishop. People walk out of Mass; there are shouting matches. The development of the Traditional Mass in a diocese works in a completely different way. Here a bishop saves a historic church by giving it to a traditional Institute. There a priest introduces an extra Mass into his timetable for a handful of parishioners. People might complain but the complaints are obviously unreasonable, since it doesn't affect their own spiritual lives. No one need walk out of his favoured Mass never to return. No one has had his spiritual peace shattered. But in the meantime these initiatives have the potential to grow. They draw in the lapsed, they foster vocations. We don't pull down; we build up.
Leroy Huizenga is Administrative Chair of Human and Divine Sciences at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.