The Orientation of Liturgical Prayer
Blogged by James Preece on 11th January 2010
Back in January 2008 I blogged about a chapter of the book Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).
In that book he writes that...
a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance.
And he makes a suggestion...
Where a direct common turning toward the east is not possible, the cross can serve as an interior "east" of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community.
You can read that full blog entry here but the main point I made is this: That the Pope didn't just suggest this when he was a cardinal, he is doing it now that he is the Pope... Should we not be doing what the Pope is doing?
Last week the Papal MC (the guy looking over the Pope's shoulder in the picture above) gave an address at a clergy conference in Rome. He spoke about a great many things but I've sliced it right down for the lazybones among you... (you should really read the whole thing - it's excellent)
...one conviction has always remained clear within the Christian community, almost down to the present day. I am referring to praying facing east, a tradition which goes back to the origins of Christianity.
...we would like to reaffirm that prayer facing east, more specifically, facing the Lord, is a characteristic expression of the authentic spirit of the liturgy.
Hence the reason for the proposal made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and presently reaffirmed during the course of his pontificate, to place the Crucifix on the center of the altar, in order that all, during the celebration of the liturgy, may concretely face and look upon Lord, in such a way as to orient also their prayer and hearts.
There are two highly significant things here. The first being that "prayer facing east, more specifically, facing the Lord, is a characteristic expression of the authentic spirit of the liturgy".
In other words, it's not an optional extra for a small minority of people who happen to like it. It's characteristic. You should be able to see it in most places and if this characteristic expression is missing, there's a good chance your parish priest is missing something in his interpretation of the liturgy.
But even more important is this, that the proposal to place the crucifix in the center of the altar is being presently reaffirmed during the course of his [Pope Benedict's] pontificate.
This leads us to the obvious question...
If the Pope suggested it, and the Pope does it, and the Pope's MC says that the Pope intends to reaffirm it, why don't we do it?
It is because we are deaf?