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#330366 08/19/09 06:42 PM
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Hat tip to the New Liturgical Movement [newliturgicalmovement.org] for bringing this item from eastern Oklahoma, where the Bishop of Tulsa [dioceseoftulsa.org] has reintroduced the ancient practice of celebrating the Holy Mass facing east in his cathedral.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_oN5K_WcO5JM/Soq3fnM9utI/AAAAAAAAA_I/9WE8JbZVD3A/s1600/ado.png


Please follow this link [dioceseoftulsa.org] to read the whole article.

I feel this is an example of Pope Benedict's teaching on the liturgy bearing fruit in the life of the Church, hopefully bringing the Latin Church a little bit closer to the Eastern Churches.

Last edited by Irish Melkite; 08/20/09 09:28 AM.
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Bravo!

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There was never anything mandating versus populum, and the symbolic and practical value of versus apsidem are so overwhelming as to make one wonder just why celebration facing the people became universal and lasted so long.

StuartK #330373 08/19/09 08:45 PM
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It's not without reason it is the Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma. laugh

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Originally Posted by Philippe Gebara
It's not without reason it is the Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma. laugh

I did a double take and had the same thought, LOL! (Saw it on "The Deacon's Bench")
Many years, Bishop Slattery!

I've heard our new bishop has celebrated Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form elsewhere in the past. I'm not one who normally goes to the Mass in the EF, but I hope to see it come to our Cathedral some of the time at least.

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I wonder if His Excellency is permitting his priests to go and do likewise in the parishes, or if this manner of serving the Liturgy is restricted to the Cathedral.

I bet Bishop Slattery's predecessor Bishop Reed is not just turning over but spinning in his grave. Eternal memory.

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It may be a well-intentioned message, but the reality is that people may well be perceiving that they are not welcome.

I hear the same excuse given for retaining versus populum in the Latin Church: "People will feel insulted if the priest 'turns his back on them'". The answer, of course, is improved catechesis, and given the almost total collapse of Eucharistic discipline in the Catholic Church (with regard to fasting, confession, proper disposition, etc.), it could not come a moment too soon.

Interestingly, I include many Eastern Catholic Churches in this criticism, since they have essentially slouched their way into copying the Latin discipline (which, with regard to the Eucharistic fast, can be summarized as "spit out your gum when entering church").

Last edited by Father Anthony; 08/22/09 01:31 AM. Reason: Split from another thread
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Originally Posted by sielos ilgesys
I wonder if His Excellency is permitting his priests to go and do likewise in the parishes, or if this manner of serving the Liturgy is restricted to the Cathedral.
[...]
The liturgy of the cathedral church has always been considered normative for the whole diocese. The bishop sets the example for his priests.

StuartK #330421 08/20/09 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
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It may be a well-intentioned message, but the reality is that people may well be perceiving that they are not welcome.

I hear the same excuse given for retaining versus populum in the Latin Church:
Why are you criticizing the first centuries of liturgical practice of the Church, which fashioned their liturgy after the Jewish services?
Ad Orientam is actually a development that dates to several centuries later. The most ancient praxis of the Church is actually reflected in the current use of the Latin Rite Church.

danman916 #330423 08/20/09 04:48 PM
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Why are you criticizing the first centuries of liturgical practice of the Church, which fashioned their liturgy after the Jewish services? Ad Orientam is actually a development that dates to several centuries later. The most ancient praxis of the Church is actually reflected in the current use of the Latin Rite Church.

Father Anthony will be angry at me, but I am forced to say that this remark shows utter ignorance of Jewish synagogue practice and early Church architecture. And I know, because before I was a Christian, I was a Jew. And I am an historian with an abiding interest in such matters, so I have done my homework.

In the synagogue, until quite recently (and then mainly in Western Europe and the Americas), the worship space was aligned with the Torah niche (tabernacle) on the wall closest to Jerusalem. Synagogues dating back to the second century AD (there are some earlier buildings that archaeologists suspect were synagogues, but these have not been confirmed) all show an alignment with the Torah placed at the wall closest to Jerusalem.

This practice had a profound effect on synagogue architecture. The earliest synagogues we know were "long houses"' i.e., their longest wall fronted the street, and the entrance was through a door on that wall. Because of the practice of aligning the Torah niche with Jerusalem, it was often necessary for a Jew to enter, then turn around to face the Torah.

By the late second century AD, the basilica floorplan had become the preferred form a synagogue, with the Torah placed at the apsidal end, and the whole building aligned with the apse facing Jerusalem. Thus, when the worshiper entered through the main doors in the narthex, he was already facing the Torah and could begin his prayers without turning around.

The early Church, even before it began building specialized worship spaces, oriented those buildings it adapted for the purpose. One of the oldest and most complete churches discovered, the house church at Dura Europos (ca. AD 250) on the Euphrates river, had a large worship space created by knocking down several interior walls. This worship space was aligned on an East-West axis, with the altar and a tabernacle niche on the eastern wall. In other words, this earliest of churches was already oriented.

Every early church excavated to date, with very few exceptions, is oriented. Those few exceptions included Old St. Peters in Rome, which was "occidented" only because the placement of the altar over Peter's Tomb required it to accommodate the lay of the land. Even there, it is believed that the celebrant and the people all turned to face East (whence cometh the Light) during key parts of the liturgy.

Indeed, in the oldest extant Churches, such as the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Ethiopian Church, the people spontaneously face East when engaged in prayer, whether in church or out.

The notion of facing East is part of the oldest stratum of the Christian Tradition--in large part because it was an adaptation of the Jewish tradition (still maintained among Orthodox Jews) of facing Jerusalem while praying.

I have no idea where you got the idea that the earliest Christians--most of whom were Jews--would deviate from centuries of Jewish tradition by having the prayer leader (another problem with your analogy is the lack of a clearly defined celebrant in the ancient synagogue service) face the people, as opposed to all the people facing Jerusalem together. It contradicts the textual and the architectural evidence, and can only go to show the extent to which the liturgical wars of the Latin Church were determined largely by a campaign of misinformation.


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StuartK #330426 08/20/09 05:08 PM
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Stuart,

Actually not biggrin. The information you have presented actually matches most of what I have read in liturgical commentaries and references to date in regards to liturgical practices of both the Christian East and West and their development, but I do not have them here in my office to quote from. I would actually challenge danman916 though to actually furnish references from reliable sources to back-up his claims though.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+


Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and learn how to accomplish such progression. - Saint Gregory of Sinai
StuartK #330430 08/20/09 05:35 PM
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You are missing the point. I think that you may have made a wrong assumption at the start, stuart.

The eucharistic liturgy has its most ancient practice in the believers gathering together in the home after the synagogue service. You took an awfully lot of space to decribe something that was not practiced in the synagogue, namely, the eucharistic celebration.
What I was referring to was the eucharist celebrated as the passover meal, not the synagogue service.

I am not questioning your knowledge of history, just that I think you are mis-applying it here. Also, I do not think that I am being ignorant. I am applying what I have learned in my liturgics course from a very well respected liturgist in my diocese with a Phd. That doesn't make me an expert, but I do trust that what she taught us was accurate.

Versus Populum is a proper liturgical position that many experts believe was the original posture of the presider (not leader, which isn't correct liturgical language) in these first eucharistic celebrations.

There was no iconostasis. There was no tabernacle. There was no reserved sacrament.
But there was an understanding, that has been recovered in versus populum that the presider along with those present offer to God the covenant sealed in Christ's blood done in active remembrance, making present that which Christ did on the night he was betrayed. The versus populum position communcates the liturgical expression that it is the work of all of the people (which is what liturgy means) who offer this together, which the priest presiding. It stresses the communal aspect of the offering, in which not only the priest offers the oblation to God, but the believers offer themselve in union with the priest in the name of Jesus.

Now, later developments in the theology stressed different aspects of this offering, which then changed the orientation of the priest. In doing so, it changed the emphasis of the theology, but did not negate the communal aspect of the offering.
In the same fashion, versus populum does not negate that which is emphasized in the priest facding in the same direction.

It becomes a matter of what particular facet of the theology is emphasized in the liturgical movements, but neither negates the other.

That is the problem I have with those who are overly critical of versus populum without realizing that this was most probably the liturgical form used in the eucharistic feasts of the first century. They don't recognize that that liturgical position is proper and speaks a truth, theologically. So if it was good enough for 1st century Christians, there's no reason why it isn't good enough today in the places where it is currently in use. Now, that being said, I am not criticizing the liturgy in which presider faces the same direction as the congregation.

I am, however, asserting that versus populum is not an invalid lirurgical position, but has a basis, both theologically as well as liturgically.

Last edited by danman916; 08/20/09 05:44 PM.
danman916 #330435 08/20/09 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by danman916
Versus Populum is a proper liturgical position that many experts believe was the original posture of the presider (not leader, which isn't correct liturgical language) in these first eucharistic celebrations.
Ummmm.... no. This is a myth. Not sure where you got it from.

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The eucharistic liturgy has its most ancient practice in the believers gathering together in the home after the synagogue service. You took an awfully lot of space to decribe something that was not practiced in the synagogue, namely, the eucharistic celebration.

If you can find an historical reference to this, I will be utterly surprised. As I said elsewhere, we know zip, zilch, nada about primitive Christian liturgy, though a lot of liturgists are willing to try to recreate the whole beast from a few fragments left lying around, such as the descriptions in Justin Martyr, Hippolytus of Rome, Pliny the Younger, etc. But these are exceptionally vague, because knowledge of what occurred during the Holy Mysteries was a secret held only by the initiated, and not for public display or consumption. That the mysteries were closely held goes far to explain why pagan audiences were so misled and titillated by rumors of what those nasty Christians did behind closed doors.

And, as a result, attempts by liturgists to recreate in detail primitive Christian liturgy tell us more about the liturgists than they do about the liturgy of the early Christians.

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Versus Populum is a proper liturgical position that many experts believe was the original posture of the presider (not leader, which isn't correct liturgical language) in these first eucharistic celebrations.

Names and addresses, please. How do these "experts" get around both the archaeological and textual evidence for versus apsidem?

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There was no iconostasis. There was no tabernacle. There was no reserved sacrament.

Straw men are taking a beating today. I'm pretty sure everyone here knows the iconostasis began developing in the fifth century, and did not reach its canonical maturity until after the Iconoclasm. To conflate those with the tabernacle and the reserved sacrament is to mix apples and oranges, though.

Jewish synagogues had a tabernacle (still do, in fact); early Christian churches followed suit. As I said, the church in Dura Europos, though just a "house church", does indeed include a tabernacle niche in the eastern wall. And patristic accounts show that not only was a portion of the consecrated Bread reserved, much of it was taken home by the faithful to consume at meals during the week. Presbyters and deacons kept a portion of the Sacrament on hand to bring to the sick and to prisoners. They had to do this, because the Eucharist, at the very beginning, was celebrated only on Sundays.

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The versus populum position commincates the liturgical expression that it is the work of all of the people (which is what liturgy means) who offer this together, which the priest presiding. It stresses the communal aspect of the offering, in which not only the priest offers the oblation to God, but the believers offer themselve in union with the priest in the name of Jesus.
On the contrary, it elevates the celebrant to a position above and separated from the people by placing the Holy Table between him and them. It reduces the people to spectators of something done by the clergy on behalf of the people. On the other hand, proper celebration versus apsidem reinforces the notion that celebrant and people together are on a pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God. The celebrant might be at the head of the parade, but he and the people are both in the parade. At its best, liturgy is not something in which the celebrant is the actor and the people the audience, but people and celebrant together are the actors and God is the audience. But I reiterate my remarks about shoddy catechesis.

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That is the problem I have with those who are overly critical of versus populum without realizing that this was most probably the liturgical form used in the eucharistic feasts of the first century.

Constantly repeating this, in the absence of supporting evidence, is not going to convince me or anyone else. Besides--if you understand how ritual meals were eaten in Greco-Roman culture--you realize that the Agape could not have looked the way you think it does. Examine the layout of a classical triclinium, and see for yourself. At the very least, you will finally understand how John the Evangelist was able to lay his head on Christ's breast during the Last Supper (apparently by the eighth century or so, practices had changed, and so in icons we see St. John leaning over awkwardly in his chair to put his head on Jesus's chest).

StuartK #330439 08/20/09 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
If you can find an historical reference to this, I will be utterly surprised.
I emailed my professor about this. I will get back to you. As you said, there is very little explicit information, so most of what we have on the first century comes from piecing things together. If you need a "smoking gun" for proof, then I would also ask for that same smoking gun that states that every eucharistic celebration was ad orientam.

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And, as a result, attempts by liturgists to recreate in detail primitive Christian liturgy
If we are to grant that, then one must also grant that we cannot recreate in detail knowing that ad orientam was the norm everywhere either.

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tell us more about the liturgists than they do about the liturgy of the early Christians.
That would be an ad hominem argument.

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There was no iconostasis. There was no tabernacle. There was no reserved sacrament.
Straw men are taking a beating today. I'm pretty sure everyone here knows the iconostasis began developing in the fifth century,
No strawman at all. I mentioned this to point out that there were valid liturgical developments through the patristic period and afterward. Since an argument is often made about following the Holy Tradition of the Church (which is a good thing), my point was to demonstrate that the use of an iconostasis was not present in the liturgy on the day of Pentecost when the Church was given its fullness of the Spirit, so the argument of liturgical position of the priest always facing ad orientam from the day of pentecost is not something that can be automatically assumed.





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On the contrary, it elevates the celebrant to a position above and separated from the people by placing the Holy Table between him and them. It reduces the people to spectators of something done by the clergy on behalf of the people.
Some people make this same argument about the iconostasis.
But I completely disagree with your assessment.
I don't know if you are a Latin Rite Catholic or not, but if one follows the liturgical actions and words of the priest, there is a dialogue between the priest and the faithful during the perparation of the gifts and during the prayer over the gifts (the offertory). It is plainly clear from the liturgical actions of the priest and the response of the people, that the people are anything but spectators.
I would encourage you to read this in the Latin Rite, becuase it is clear that the priest doesn't lead, he presides. he doesn't reduce the people to spectators, he seeks their participation.

Here is the liturgical text. Notice the interplay that makes the offering a communal event.

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Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
All: Blessed be God for ever.

Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
All: Blessed be God for ever.


Priest: Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice
may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
All: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands,
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good, and the good of all his Church.






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Besides--if you understand how ritual meals were eaten in Greco-Roman culture--you realize that the Agape could not have looked the way you think it does.
Why are you making an appeal to Greco-Roman culture when the ritual meal of passover (from which the Eucharist comes from) was specifically Hebrew in origin?

I guess that my main argument comes in that there are those who very strongly assert that versus populum is something absolutely foreign to Christianity until 50 years ago by appealing to arguments of which I have demonstrated could very well have been a development in the 2nd century or later.




So much for the lay blessings topic, eh?



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