Traditional Mass

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Liturgy is essentially adoration,
Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis recalls that there exists an intrinsic relationship between Eucharistic celebration and Eucharistic adoration, which, immediately after the Council was not always perceived with sufficient clarity. An objection was widespread that the Eucharistic Bread was given to us not to be looked at but to be eaten. This contra-position was without foundation because, the document says, quoting Saint Augustine- “no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it …the Eucharistic celebration…is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration ” (66).

In fact authentic Liturgists are aware that “In the Mass…we have the summit of both the action with which God sanctifies the world in Christ and worship which men render to the Father adoring Him through Christ the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit” (General Instruction Roman Missal, n 16). This text draws from the Second Vatican Council's Constitution of the Liturgy (cfr. SC n. 10), but above all it simply actuates the affirmation of Jesus: “The real worshipers will adore the Father in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4,23).

Adoration is the heart of the cosmic dimension of the Liturgy: it brings together in Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul says, all things in heaven and on earth. Adoration is ”opus Dei”, according to Saint Benedict, public worship, according to the encyclical “Mediator Dei” of Pius XII, which the Church with Christ renders the Father every day. However , this Liturgy, in actual fact, we receive from heaven, as Revelation narrates it, has its typical form in the altar of the slain Lamb adored by the saints. Therefore truly Catholic Liturgy leaves no space for creative subjectivism but only for adoring participation «Theo-latria» not «idolo-latria».

Max Thurian was fond of saying that the Liturgy is the contemplation of the mystery which signifies adoration: it is not separate from the Holy Mass and the Sacraments, it is their intimate structure from which must flow a personal attitude of adoration. In the Eastern rites this is the presupposition which leads the ministers always to turn towards the Lord's altar after they have turned to the people in dialogue. The Roman Liturgy was the same, then someone invented that the orientation towards the altar, that is to the Lord, was really turning one's back on the people. Strange that in all those centuries no one noticed this until 1967. And Eastern Christian still fail to notice it as they continue to look towards the East symbol of the Lord who comes. And to think that in the post-council period there was so much insistence on the necessity to restore the eschatological and transcendent dimension of the Liturgy!

With the priest and faithful looking at each other face to face the Liturgy (if, as they say, it operates through signs) is left in the immanent dimension of the world. It would suffice the Liturgy of the Word to underline the school in which the didascalos speaks to the disciples. The Sacrifice must be looking towards the Lord, starting with the priest who leads the prayers of the faithful, who 'lift up their hearts to the Lord’, symbol of the conversion of hearts, as the Latin expression “conversi ad Dominum” says in a figurative manner. Isacco Siro affirms: “Christ, the perfect painter, paints the traits of His face of heavenly man on the faithful who turn to Him. Unless a person looks at Him continually, despising anything contrary to Him, he cannot have in himself the image of the Lord designed by His light. May our face always be set on Him with faith and love, neglecting everything to think only of Him so that His image may be imprinted on our intimate self, and thus carrying Christ within us we may reach life with out end”. (Agenzia Fides 26/4/2007; righe 40, parole 580)