Curvatus in Se: On the Inward Focus of Modern Liturgy and On Rediscovering the True Source of Our Unity

St. Augustine described the fundamental ailment of the human person when he described man as curvatus in se (turned in upon himself). St. Augustine had the individual in mind but I think communities can also turn in upon themselves.

Indeed, we have been through a difficult period of this sort in the Church, especially in regard to the way we celebrate the Liturgy, where the fundamental premise of unity seems to have become highly anthropocentric. That is to say we have understood the source of our unity to be primarily ourselves, rather than God. We may not have formally taught this,  but it is implicit in many of things we have done. I have remarked on this in another post over a year ago which you can read here:   Anthropocentric Attitudes  But allow just a few examples from Church life to illustrate.

1. The Tabernacle, once invariably at the center of our churches, was placed to the side or in some chapel. It was almost as if Jesus was in the way, somehow, of what we wanted to accomplish in the Mass. Increasingly what it seems our focus shifted to was our very selves. The principle of unity was thus to be found in us.

2. The Linear and cruciform orientation of the church building gave way to the fan shaped and even circular buildings of the past forty years. Again the message seems to be that we should look at each other, and the main goal  seems to be that we be able to see each other’s faces. It would be this that would enhance and create greater unity. Hence anything like tabernacles, candles, crosses, even altars that blocked  the view of others was to be eliminated. The unity was to be found within the assembly and by a physically inward arrangement free of any obstacles.

3. Thus architectural  minimalism became essential since the people and their ability to see each other and thus find unity were the main point. Large impressive altars, statues, high ceilings etc., anything that tended to draw attention away from others or bock the view of others, was to be removed. Somehow these outside and “distracting” objects, even if they were images of our Lord, offended against unity which was to be found within the “gathered” Church.  I remember rather humorously a now deceased liturgist from the 1970s, (Eugene Walsh), coming to our parish and telling us that the altar should be no bigger than a night stand or side table and that the priest should never stand behind anything. Even our rather radical pastor at that time thought that was going a bit too far! The altar stayed.

4. The priest must face the people at all times. The ancient and common orientation of priest and people in one direction, all looking outward toward Christ, was replaced with an inward focus, a circle. This was said to create and emphasize unity in the gathered assembly. The principle of unity was within, among the humans gathered.

5. Self-congratulatory salutations abound. We are endlessly impressed and fascinated by what we are doing and who is doing it. At large parish masses announcements and congratulatory accolades for musicians, visitors, youth et al. may last longer than the homily or Eucharistic prayer. This is seen as affirming and community-building and thus, once again, the impression is created that the we are the main point and that our unity and gifts flow from us, and exist for us. That the worship of God should be the main point  seems to many to be a downer or a distraction.

Now community is an essential partof who we are and why we are at Church. We do not come to Mass as a purely private moment with God and the Church is not a private oratory. Neither is this a question of the old versus the new Mass, for many of these trends set up wel before the missal of 1970. But in our attempt to emphasize the important and essential communal dimension of the liturgy,  it seems we may have over-corrected. It also seems that we have set up a false dichotomy wherein focusing on God, on the vertical and outward dimension of liturgy, is necessarily to offend against the human and communal dimension of the Mass.

Not only is this dichotomy false but it also destroys the very unity it clams to serve. For, if we do not communally focus on the Lord, we have no true unity. It may be argued that there is some vaguely human sort of unity, but it really no different that the unity that exists among the members of a bowling league. And even the members of a bowling league know that at some point it is important to focus on the act of bowling rather than merely on each other. Something outside themselves (i.e. bowling) ultimately unites them.

It is the Lord who unites us – Hence in the Church and in the Liturgy we must resist the false dichotomy of pitting the focus on the Lord against the focus on ourselves. There really is only one focus, the Lord. And our common focus on him unites us. He and his grace are the source of our unity. This will not exclude our unity with each other, but enhance and deepen it. This of course seems an untenable thought to those who see unity as essentially a human work, rather than a mystical or divine one.  But ultimately the only lasting unity for the Church is the unity God creates.

The Old Latin hymn, Ubi Caritas has this to say: congregavit nos in unum Christi amor  (The Love of Christ has gathered us in one). It will be noted that Amor Christi (the Love of Christ) is the subject of the verb congregavit (has gathered) and nos (us) is the direct object. That is to say, it is Christ who acts, and we who are acted upon. It is Christ who gathers and we who are gathered. The resulting unity is Christ’s work.

To focus on Christ, therefore, is to  focus on the very source of our unity.  Unity for  two really requires a third principle or person. Consider these images from Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book Three to Get Married (TTGM):

Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another. It takes three to make love. (TTGM Kindle version Loc. 137-39)

Love of self without love of God is selfishness; love of neighbor without love of God embraces only those who are pleasing to us, not those who are hateful. One cannot tie two sticks together without something outside the sticks; one cannot bind the nations of the world together except by the recognition of a Law and a Person outside the nations themselves. Duality in love is extinction through the exhaustion of self-giving. Love is triune or it dies. (TTGM Kindle version Loc. 831-34)

Yes, there it is, the great paradox: the true source of our unity is outside ourselves. The inward focus of modern times in the Church has led to very divisive times in the Church. The more we seek to find our unity in a purely humanistic, inward focused manner, the more we have argued, divided and diminished. The great paradox is that the more we look up and out, the greater our unity can be. It is like a man pointing to a wonder in the sky and the crowd around him also looks up to marvel. And in the shared experience of something outside themselves, they find greater unity than before he pointed out and up.

 Consider too this image from Sheen:

 Imagine a large circle, and in the center of it, rays of light that spread out to the circumference. The light in the center is God; each of us is a ray. The closer the rays are to the center, the closer the rays are to one another. The closer we live to God, the closer we are bound to our neighbor; the farther we are from God, the farther we are from one another. (TTGM Kindle version Loc. 910-12)

Yes, it is a paradox, but like most paradoxes, it is true. The anthropocentric premise of unity in modern times has ultimately offended against unity. In the world we sought brotherhood,  and so, many, under a false notion of tolerance, kicked truth to the curb. We have not found brotherhood though, rather, extreme factions in our culture, strident demands and a battle of wills. For nothing outside us, such as truth, or God unites, we are left only to struggle for power. In the Church we sought community within. We turned inward to the merely human. And here too a battle of wills and tastes ensued. Liturgy more often divides than unites today, for in the current thinking, there is no one outside us to unite us: not God, not the Church, not tradition. What’s left is just us,  and unfortunately we are a disagreeable lot. The promise of community falls flat.

The true source of our unity must be discovered outward and upward. Outward and upward to God, outward to the wider community of the Church and the voice of the ancient community that tradition is. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor!

I would like to finish with the words of Pope Benedict in his recent book The Light of the World. Here too he speaks with a clarity, that we have got to do a better job of getting outside ourselves if we are to find true liberation and unity in God:

Our preaching, our proclamation, really is one-sided, in that it is largely directed toward the creation of a better world, while hardly anyone talks any more about the other, truly better world. We need to examine our consciences on this point. Of course one has to meet one’s listeners halfway, one has to speak to them in terms of their own horizon. But at the same time our task is to open up this horizon, to broaden it, and to turn our gaze toward the ultimate. These things are hard to accept for people today and seem unreal to them. Instead, they want concrete answers for now, for the tribulations of everyday life. But these answers are incomplete so long as they don’t convey the sense and the interior realization that I am more than this material life, that there is a judgment, and that grace and eternity exist. By the same token, we also need to find new words and new means to enable people to break through the sound barrier of finitude. (Pope Benedict XVI Light of the World Kindle Edition Loc 2271-78)

Onward, outward, upward!

36 Replies to “Curvatus in Se: On the Inward Focus of Modern Liturgy and On Rediscovering the True Source of Our Unity”

  1. Thank you for this meditation as I retire for the evening. To God be the glory. Amen.

  2. Yes, after having attended both liturgies, I must say I can feel the difference. The modern liturgy is more social, the Latin, more pentitential, the focus more on the Sacrifice. Since you do both liturgies, how do you feel when you pray, Monsignor?

    We have a beautiful Crucifix and for most of the time my eyes are fixed upon the Corpus because our priest has carved it himself. But when the Bread and Wine are consecrated I do like to see what the priest is doing. I miss that during the High Mass because I cannot see. I know the priest is making private prayers on all our behalf.

    Thank you, as always for your beautiful mind and thoughts. I will try to always keep my mind fixed on Jesus.

    1. I think the pitfalls of the old Mass are less. But the EF Mass is not immune from a turned in quality among the faithful who attend and can be extremely particular. This causes me to think the attention is more on the priest and what genuflection he may have missed than on God who is worshipped. Or perhaps one is fussy about not wanting any music because it distracts their (private) prayers during Mass. So the EF is not without “turned in” tendencies, but at more of an individual rather than a communal level. I also note in the article that even the communal problems began before 1960.

  3. Oh, I LOATHE circular/fan-shaped naves. I don’t at all find them to enhance intimacy among parishioners, if that’s what the intent is. I feel as if I’m sitting in a cavern.

    When my family visited a parish in Williamsburg VA whose church was of the in-the-round variety, we found ourselves sitting behind the pulpit, which also was positioned between us and the altar. We spent the homily looking at the priest’s back.

    1. Yes, the roundish shape created some real paradoxes as you describe. I remeber preaching in one Church (built in 1955) and when I was int he pulpit 2/3 of the congregation was behind me!

      1. Having to preach with your back to most of your listeners IS something of a design fail, isn’t it?

        While I was listening to the priest’s back (he was close enough for us to admire the design on his chausible) during our Williamsburg visit, I spent some time looking for the tabernacle, which was NOT in a prominent place. I finally spied it in an out-of-the-way alcove.

        The redeeming feature was that there was a fantastic organ, and my spouse, in-laws, and I sat back in our pew after Mass hoping for a nice postlude that included feet flying along the pedals and multiple stops being pulled in & out. All we got was the Hornpiple from Handel’s Water Music. Where’s Bach when you really need him?

    2. That church in Williamburg is just awful. The weird shape, the glaring white paint (seriously, you need sunglasses), the bizarre suspended pillars, the ugly statues, and the narthex furnished exactly like a hotel lobby, complete with flat-screen televisions scrolling the events of the day….

  4. A little note to readers: The changes which Msgr. is speaking of are not doctrinal. The Church has not changed her doctrine. So don’t let your faith waiver or shake.

  5. But Father, “We are building the city of God!” Seriously, though, thank you for this meditation. I am preparing a talk for RCIA about the Mass and the Eucharist and think I have neglect to emphasise that our unity comes from our communal worship of the One Lord. Thank you for including B XVI’s words as well, as it encourages me to speak even more about the heaven liturgy in which we take part.
    On another note, my children (the oldest or the 4 is 8) act differently in a church that is traditionally shaped than they do in a fan shaped building. Our Parish church is fan shaped and our previous pastor was all about us seeing each other. It always seemed awkward and distracting to the children. Now, both of our priest have a solid understanding of the liturgy, but we are left with the fan shaped church. I can’t help but think that the architecture, rather than aiding the formation of my children, is distorting their religious sense is some way. Would that the priests would face the same direction so that we were all turned toward the Lord! I think that would go a long way in making up for the deficiencies in modern architecture. Why do you think so many priests are afraid to celebrate ad orientem?

    1. Yes, If I were to change one thing about the new mass it would be the orientation of the priest. Facing the people is not only an innovation unkown in ancient times (with very few exceptions) but it also send all the wrong signals about our focus.

      1. I am curious about the priest’s orientation vs. his standing in persona Christi.

        1. Well, it seems to me that even in persona Christi he is praising the Father and leading us in worship of him. So I think an ad orientem posture conforms well to this fact.

      2. The effect of architecture on the people who use an edifice cannot be underestimated. We are affected by the walls, windows, pews, columns, or lack thereof. So, we must ask: What do we want? Do we want to focus on the Lord? I doubt that most American Catholics really, deep down inside, want to focus on Christ truly present in the tabernacle. Modern man is not interested in God. His architecture reflects that. Just because you were baptized a Catholic and raised or educated that way does not mean you have, within yourself, any interest in God. The indifference of the laity to the architecture imposed on them by bishops-of-a-certian-age is the natural outcome of poor catechesis which long preceded the Vatican II Council. Had all Catholics been encourged to have a true relationship with our Triune God, not just a relationship with rituals and social structures, the idiotic church architecture imposed on the American Church would never have happened. So, rather than raze the nutty structures to the ground, build up the faith of the people in those nutty structures FIRST.

  6. Unfortunately, some current churches remind me of “taking Christ out of Christmas”. Like in our current society, there seems to be a narcissistic element in some churches that points not to Him whom we are worshiping and adoring, but to “we, the church”. As you have so aptly described, there are not just one or two factors that result in this feeling but many.

    The physical layout, where we can look at our fellow parishoners, the”pushed aside” Tabernacle (which I think hurts the most) , the “let’s turn to our neighbor and welcome him or her this morning”, the words to songs which seem to glorify us as we sing them, a homily that does not challenge us – the “cast of thousands” on the Altar – multitudes of Eucharistic Ministers – way beyond the needs of the congregation – who then have the focus on them for several minutes while we watch their own Communion reception — with only the barest semblance of a Crucifix in some corner — all this contributes to a “feel good”, “Catholicism Lite” type of Mass.

    Maybe some of this can be addressed, little by little, to bring the focus back to where it belongs – back to God and our salvation – back to a sense of holiness and the sacred.

    1. Thank you for this post, Msgr.!!!! This has long been coming. I have been feeling that the Mass has become a theatrical performance and not a religious service where people go for the purpose of worshiping God. I share Sherry’s observations, but would like to add that some priests, and mostly deacons, deliver their homilies like stage actors. Sometimes, a priest has a beautiful message, but I get lost in the long run because I get distracted by his exaggerated gestures and body movements. I don’t get much from deacons’ homilies, especially when they try to be funny or do an oratorical piece. Why can’t they just be natural and avoid doing a “stage and drama ” bit? It would be a good idea if they approach their homilies as a sharing, instead of being condescending. The lectors should be told not to deliver dramatic readings, and avoid reciting them from memory! Again, the focus is on the individual.

      The thrust in my parish is on the community and outreach. We are encouraged to reach out to the migrant workers, the needy and the likes, which, I think is very important, and one that I hold dearly in my heart. But I feel that the emphasis is on our power to provide, instead of God who has endowed us with all the blessings that we possess, and we are merely steward of those gifts. The parish program should be geared toward educating us to grow in our relationship and love of God. I believe that if we have that real focus, which is our relationship and love of God, God’s spirit flows out from us and directs us to where he wants us to be of service in the world, and where he wants us to manifest him in a given place and time. This way, we avoid performing good deeds for the purpose of storing indulgences in heaven (which I term as spiritual accounting)

      The Mass, if properly observed, teaches us the great love of God and how he manifested it in the world!
      The crucifix is his powerful and wordless message!

      1. You illustrate well the paradox involved here: community outreach IS important and will not be harmed by a greater focus on God. Rather the proper focus on God will deepen and purify the communal outreach.

  7. Thank you so much for this beautiful article that describes what many of us have believed and felt during these years in the desert, so to speak. We are fortunate to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, and the contrast with weekday Novus Ordo Masses is striking. (I have so much hope that the new translation of the Mass will awaken us to the beauty of the ancient liturgy) We know people who have come back to the Faith after decades away, because they “Happened in” to the Latin Mass! I also sense among some who only attend the NO that they are tired of the trite songs, the emphasis on the people, instead of worship of the Trinity. There are two nearby churches that have recently been built or remodeled, each with a separate chapel required by the current bishop. The chapels are directly behind the sanctuary, but built in such a way that when a new bishop is installed, hopefully, the wall can be broken open in that section so that the tabernacle can be seen from the church proper.

    1. Hmm! and interesting tactic. I can’t imagine one of the Bishops currently requiring sperate Chapels for the tabernacle. That is generally against current norms which speak of the place of reserve being centrally located and visble through out the Church.

  8. Msgr.,

    I have browsed through some old books about catholic architecture that seems to suggest that funky church architecture began even before the council, as well as much of the heterodox ideas that surround the ‘re-orientation’ of church layouts. I am of the opinion that there are some, ahem, that like to blame Vatican II for EVERY single awkward step since the close of the council. It is true that several post conciliar documents (and bishops conference papers) outline some options for changing the traditional liturgical spaces in special circumstances, however it seems that some took these special circumstances to be the norm, and thus we have Sport-O-Dome churches with lost tabernacles. My hypothesis is that some children of the Art Deco period were already humming “Times they are a’ changin,” and saw Vatican II coming up and said, “There’s our train boys! All aboard!” and yet another fluke became common practice; and we-see-each-other church buildings became the greatest thing since sliced bread. Does this seem to be a correct deduction? I really do value your input.

    My parish church was built in a town devastated by WWII, and the poor farmers of the area were only able to build a boxy-concrete warehouse-like shell; only the exterior glosses (bell tower) and interior furnishings made it seem ecclesial, otherwise it was plain and un-churchy. Fortunately, the subsequent pastors with the help of skilled carpenters from the area, have had a knack for improving the spaces so that it appears dignified. Recently benches were placed on either side of the sanctuary which seems to hearken back to choir seating of monastic chapels. These seats “face each other,” however there is something about the arrangement which does not seem to focus on the assembly, but rather the sacred action of the liturgy. When we say “I believe,” its shouldn’t be so much about the “I” as much as the “believe.”

    1. Yes, I hope you notice that I DO say in the article that the problems began before the changes in the liturgy. In certain settings a “choir stall” arrangment can work especially if the altar is poistioned right.

  9. I completely agree with what your saying, but how do we convince our priests who encourage hand holding during the Our Father, and who say mass as if it’s all about them and their ideas? They don’t vest properly, only wearing an alb and stole, or the stole on the outside. They use pottery and glass “cups” and disdain anything beautiful. It seems to be all about them. What can us little, uneducated people in pew do to bring about the right orientation. We are ignored because we didn’t go to seminary. These priests thing what they were taught in the 60;s and 80’s were gospel.

    1. Well, I suspect that staying in a conversation with your priest about this will help. Priest sometimes think people like things that they don’t. Perhaps a persistent but charitable voice from you will help him hear the rest of the story.

  10. There is surely much that is beautiful in the symbolism and symmetry of everyone facing the same direction in a cruciform Church with a central tabernacle, etc., but why must that be the ONLY valid liturgical expression? I think there is also a great beauty and an expression of the Truth of the faith in gathering as a community to face one another. There is much that is incarnational about our faith, and sacraments are all about experiencing God through the stuff of the world–beginning with Jesus Himself as the human sacrament of God. Turning in se as a community is not de facto contra to the faith. Jesus said that our attitude towards and treatment of one another–especially the poorest–reflects our treatment of God, and would ultimately determine our eternal destiny (MT 25:31ff). We believe that each of us has the spirit of God WITHIN us (Genesis2). Jesus’s true presence is in the Eucharist which we eat and literally becomes part of US.
    The sense of the separateness of God could turn into a denial of God’s immanence if taken to the extreme. I occasionally see people receive communion and then genuflect in front of the tabernacle. At one point it struck me that there is something wrong here: You just ATE the eucharist, and there is nothing in the tabernacle right now. It would seem to be more appropriate to turn and genuflect toward the community who now physically embody Christ more than the empty tabernacle. Sometimes there is MORE comfort in keeping our relationship with God formal and distant [making sure God stays in that box and doesn’t come too close] because it may only require a sense of “validity” and “rubrics” and may not require a deeper level of engagement. I don’t intend to sound judgmental of formal liturgy as I grew up with a sense of that, but I think as always we should seek balance and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    1. “ONLY valid” are your words, not mine. What the post points out is the modern notion that the priest must face the people. The dogmatism of that is what is critiqued here. What I state, and what the Pope has also proposed regarding orientation is that there be greater freedom to explore this option. I think it is unlikely that we will see great or immediate change in this regard and surely would not argue in the OF for it unless proper catechesis were given.

      Balance is good in all this. My post is pulling in the other direction for that ultimate purpose.

  11. I wanted to add something about seperate Blessed Sacrament chapels. I first ran into this when I lived in Texas for a number of years. Needless to say, I will always be disturbed by the relegation of the Tabernacle to a side chapel or off to the side in many of our modern churches today. However, in most cases that I’ve seen a side chapel, there has always been a seperate street entrance that was always left open at any hour. This entrance makes access to the Blessed Sacrament available at all times and all hours without having to leave available public access into the Church itself. This allows the Church to be kept locked to prevent vandalism when not in use and at the same time allow the faithful access for adoration at any time day or night.

    The idea of protecting the Church to prevent vandalism comforted me some, but it also increased my visits to the chapel in reparation for the need for the relegation of the Tabernacle to a side chapel in the first place.

  12. At my parish, except when they stand behind the ambo giving the homily, the priests do not “face the people.” They face the altar. And the congregation faces the altar. Only, they face the altar from opposite sides. The altar is the center of the worship, rather than being over at one end.

    And no one has any confusion over this, we do not simplistically think that we supposed to be “looking at each other” merely because the altar is in the middle. Rather, we are sophisticated enough to understand that, even though there are seats on three sides of the altar, it is Jesus Christ who is at the center of our worship — not the people. Jesus is at the center and not over at one end, separate and at a distance from us.

    Neither do we believe that because the tabernacle is not behind the altar, but instead has its own dedicated chapel, that this somehow is an invitation to shift the focus to ourselves. Rather, we understand our Blessed Sacrament chapel to be a place of honor, a very special place in which people might go and kneel and pray.

  13. Hi all. I live between two parishes in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana: one that was built post-Vatican II and one that was built a century ago. My home parish is the one that was built post-Vatican II, and has many of the structural problems the article states. It was the first Catholic parish I ever attended, so, despite the fact of a guitar in the liturgy during Easter, Christmas and Ordinary Time (replaced usually by a violin in Lent and Advent); despite its circular nave (it DOES have two columns of pews prior the circular structure); despite the Protestant architecture, it is home. I will say, that even though the tabernacle is not in the nave but in a side chapel, said side chapel is generally the only part of the church unlocked. You can usually find a group of people praying before the tabernacle, as Eucharistic Adoration is very much promoted at the parish. I was confirmed in that parish this Easter. I could probably stand to transfer to the other parish because of its architecture, but there is the odd feeling that the priest at my parish celebrates the Mass with far greater respect than the pastor of the other parish (not that there is any disrespect, the pastor at my parish however goes by the book – nothing more, nothing less). He is also an excellent confessor.

    Regarding the lack of desire for God in the modern man being linked to architecture, I would have to respectfully disagree. There was a profound difference when the new priest at my home parish came in. Even though he was younger than the one who was leaving, something about him demanded we shift our gaze towards God (it actually intimidated me so much – I came into the Church from a period of atheism – that I didn’t go to confession with him until I had no other choice). He helped build a huge cross and, with a life-sized corpus, he hung the cross above the altar, so that all would see Christ: those facing the entrance would see the stripes on Christ’s back; those facing forward would see the agony on his face; on each side one can see the pierced-through hands and feet in detail.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble. I frequently visit this blog, and find many of its posts enlightening and interesting. Thank you.

  14. 0ur Lord and the Apostles were seated around the Table at the Last Supper awaiting the arrival of Leonardo when Our Lord said to the gathering, “Unless you all get yourselves round to My side of the Table, you won’t be in the picture!”

  15. Yesterday evening I saw a commercial submitted as part of a Doritos/Pepsi contest to be featured during the SuperBowl. This commercial features a minister who is inspired to address falling attendance by substituting Doritos and Pepsi for bread and wine at Communion.

    Apparently there’s been much outcry over the commercial, proclaiming that it insults the Sacrament, so much so that the clip no longer can be found online.

    I’ve no idea of the producers intent – perhaps it was nothing more than to poke fun. Instead of taking offense, however, perhaps parishes (and not just Catholic ones) should instead give thought to the efforts they’re making to keep people in the pews. Are they so focused on keeping parishioners happy that they’ve wandered from their central tenents, watered down difficult topics, made their services more of a show than worship?

  16. You missed a gravely fundamental impact of the anthropocentric effects, specifically upon the priests. It has shown up in the nature of the homilies. I have seen the center of attention focus going so far as priests who place their “throne” in the center of “sanctuary” with their back to the Crucifix {when it’s even there} and the Tabernacle no where to be found.

    Personally, I believe many of these “togetherness” and “self-centered” errors as the fruits of the feminine/feminist and homosexual influences that have gained prominence in the Church during the past 75 some odd years.

    There’s a reason Christ did not choose any women to be Apostles.

    And there’s a reason for the very common thread to many of the errors which have spread like the Smoke of Satan entering the Sanctuary.


  17. My question is who was asleep at the wheel as tabernacles werre banished, sacred images removed, genuflections banned, etc. I don’t remember the EF but do remember the reordering of the churches and these changes, all of which struck me as incompatible with belief in transubstantiation. If I could see this as an altar boy, where on earth were the bishops, priests, etc during the 1970’s and 1980’s? What message did they think they were sending us?

  18. I came across your blog for Jan 4th as I was preparing material about the Week of Christian Unity – today is Day 2 – for my bible study group this evening. I will use the line from Ubi Caritas (The Love of Christ has gathered us in one). Very appropriate!

  19. Msgr Pope,
    Can you recall what text of St Augustine’s the phrase ‘cruvatus in se’ is from?
    I have been thinking about this recently in reference to the versus populum celebration of mass to which you have referred in this article. As a child of the generation raised entirely in the novus ordo, I have had the good grace of attending two novus ordo liturgies that were celebrated ad orientam, and the sense of ‘rightness’ was so profound I can’t help but continue to wonder why such a change to versus populum ever came about. I wish the theology of the liturgy had not been so obscured and inaccessible for my generation (30 somethings at prsent) who as I have noticed, tend to be almost entirely absent from the pews.

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