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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Liturgy Office and facing eastward

Jackie Parkes (Catholic Mom of 10) sent me the link to the Autumn 2008 issue of Spirit of the Season from the Liturgy Office of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

Jackie has (quite reasonably) questioned the assumption that "liturgical dance" is part of the liturgy but it is worth considering other aspects of the article. The front page article "The direction of worship" begins:
Taking the Church’s tradition and its understanding of the Mass, it is known for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the people or facing East, which is the priest facing the same way as the people. Aside from the politics that often accompanies this matter, it is good to consider ‘our’ focus during the celebration of Mass.
This is a very welcome injection of sensible comment on liturgical orientation. The article also makes the pertinent comment:
It is important for musicians to lead by being audible to the assembly, but there is not the same need for them to be visible, as though a part of the focus on the Altar.
The same reasoning is applied to the case where a group of children sing something. They are not singing to the congregation but to the Lord and therefore there is no need for them to be facing the congregation.

Although the article does not address the question of the orientation of the priest when he is praying to the Father on behalf of the assembled congregation, I think that it is a welcome indication that the teaching of Pope Benedict on the Liturgy is being assimilated in the newer form of the Mass.

I don't agree that liturgical dance is a suitable part of the celebration of Mass but it is interesting that even here the question of orientation is considered.
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