Ad Orientem, Pars Secundus

Thanks to an alert reader who spotted this in the Letters section of the London Tablet.  In my earlier post on the decision of the archbishop of Tulsa to celebrate Masses ad orientem, I included the Tablet's editorial about Archbishop Vincent Nichols' (Westminster) communications with the Latin Mass Society, to shed light on how other bishops were approaching those who were enthusiastic about rites other than the common Mass in the vernacular (ad orientem, the Latin Mass, the "Tridentine Mass," etc.).  Now his auxiliary says that the archbishop has been misunderstood.  The Tablet is here, but I'm copying the letter below for those who don't subscribe (though you should).  The Tablet had praised the new archbishop for his "timely display of clear leadership." 

Encouraging both rites


I am writing with regard to your leader “The old rite put in its place” (8 August). In his message welcoming priests to the training conference provided by the Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society, Archbishop Nichols expresses his gratitude to those priests who have given up their time to respond to a need in the Church today.

By providing this conference for priests wishing to learn the extraordinary rite, the Diocese of Westminster is not only affirming the import ance of the worthy celebration of the liturgy and the proper attention that priests should pay to good celebration but also reminding us that the diocesan bishop is the moderator, promoter and guardian of the whole of the diocese’s liturgical life. He is not “seeking to nip potential schism in the bud” or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is “necessarily marginal”.

Just as Pope Benedict pointed out in the letter he sent to the Church’s bishops to accompany “Summorum Pontificum”, so the archbishop notes the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary forms. Above all he emphasises the importance of the Mass as the “source and expression of the unity of the Church”. In this Year for Priests, Archbishop Vincent recognises the responsibility priests face whatever the form the liturgy takes – the active participation of all. This is an idea, common to papal teaching on the liturgy from the beginning of the twentieth century. This “active participation” has always been understood to be internal and external. To reduce participation to solely external signs is both a simplification and a misguided attack in the “culture wars” you seek to avoid. 

(Bishop) Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, London SW1

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10 years 2 months ago
Wow, so the Archbishop's comments were given at an event meant to prepare priests to celebrate the Mass of Blessed John XXIII? helps to place them in context. 
What continues to amaze me is that people frequently think that the ad orientem posture is tied to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite when it is almost exclusively the posture used in all 29 different Catholic rites.  Many would assert, along with Pope Benedict, that this universality of practice we see in the 29 rites is not an accident of history: this universality says that there is something essential to the liturgy in the ad orientem posture-read Ratzinger's ''The Spirit of the Liturgy'' as he tries to sketch what it is.  
Because it's such a constituative part of our practice as a universal Church we should not simply turn our back on it because it's now out of fashion in the Western Church.  I think the liturgical changes that happened so fast in the 60's left behind some really good things and I think the ad orientem posture is one of them. 
The ad orientem posture really speaks to my heart: facing the Father together, in a common direction, with the priest standing in the person of Christ and leading us to the Father's house!  Then, when we have offered the worhsip of Christ's Sacrifice to the Father, Christ turns to us in his priest and feeds us with his own body and blood! Talk about increasing my active participation: it speaks to the imagination! 
I have been blessed at many Masses where the priest was facing the people, but isn't there room for both postures?
10 years 2 months ago
Really? ''Archbishop Vincent recognises the responsibility priests face whatever the form the liturgy takes – the active participation of all.''   Also  ''...always been understood to be internal and external''. At a Trid Latin Mass? Active participation? Internal AND External?  C'mon bishop.  Because an auxiliary bishop responded rather that archbishop Vincent I think he was forced to.  The Latin Mass Society is in shambles w/ a number of resignations by its officers.
10 years 2 months ago
I am very pleased and relieved that there has been clarification concerning Archbishop Nichols' statement on the Tridentine Mass - the Mass that was the object of the suppressionist rage of the Protestant ruling class of Britain for 300 years -which resulted in the imprisonment and murder of many Catholics both British and Irish for attending the celebration of it. The unjust suppression of the Tridentine Mass in 1969 was exacerbated by the history of its violent suppression. I am pleased that Archbishop Nichols has clarified his position and that there will be freedom for this rite! Lastly, I hope we can address the bias that claims that this Mass is captive of the right wing. Why can't people concerned with classic Left wing issues like social justice attend the Tridentine Mass and make it their own, on the model of the servant of God, Dorothy Day, who was Left wing on social justice and peace issues and right wing on the liturgy? Fear of the Tridentine Mass is unjust and exceedingly unhelpful. Any new Dorothy Days out there?
10 years 2 months ago
Is not 'pars' feminine?  Thus, 'secunda,' and not 'secundus.'


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