Oklahoma! Tulsa goes East…
Here’s one that’s sure to get some twisted knickers:
Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa has decreed that the celebrant at masses in the Cathedral will now celebrate ad orientam, to the East (though it’s not clear if the sanctuary points East). Here is a link to Slattery’s column in the diocesan magazine announcing the change, in a pdf format.
The New Liturgical Movement has excerpts as well here, in which Slattery explains why, along with Pope Benedict XVI, he believes ad orientam is superior to versus populum–and is not about the celebrant “turning his back to the people”:
In the last 40 years…this shared orientation was lost; now the priest and the people have become accustomed to facing in opposite directions. The priest faces the people while the people face the priest, even though the Eucharistic Prayer is directed to the Father and not to the people.
This innovation was introduced after the Vatican Council, partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk.
Unfortunately this change had a number of unforeseen and largely negative effects. First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage.
The “reform of the reform” continues apace, which is something of an irony in view of Benedict’s ostensible ‘conservativsm.” Posts on liturgy are always going to create uproars. I will admit that this admixture of rites disturbs me, because it seems to foster division rather than the unity the liturgy aims to do.
And not just in the pews. I was struck by the statements (as related in The Tablet) from the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, to a gathering of the Latin Mass Society that the old rite is not to supplant or be construed as superior to the novus ordo. “The view that the ordinary form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here,” he said.
What Bishop Slattery seems to be doing is a kind of admixture, I think. That may be even more problematic. Question: Does the Novus Ordo allow for an ad orientam posture?