In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; conversion, the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” – “Lift up your hearts”, high above all our misguided concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: Conversi ad Dominum – we must always turn away from false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must withdraw our hearts from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.Notice how the Holy Father links the liturgical orientation, turning towards the Lord, with the interior conversion of heart. I cannot help smiling at the use he has made of the expression "Easter people." Not quite what the National Pastoral Congress had in mind!
Friday, 28 March 2008
Pope Benedict and "Conversi ad Dominum"
In his sermon at the Easter Vigil, the Holy Father spoke about the presence of the Risen Christ in the Liturgy of the Church and, significantly, used the phrase Conversi ad Dominum in order to explain the effect of our participation in the Liturgy should have in our lives. The essential link between Liturgy and Life has often been used in recent years to justify aberrant, human-centred liturgical innovation. The Holy Father links the liturgical turning towards the East with the conversion of our whole lives, raising them on high in truth and love. Fr Z has a commentary on the sermon; here is the last paragraph: