Firstly, apologies for missing the last two weeks. Summer haze and all that.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has not been similarly lazy, it would seem. There is in preparation a manual to help priests celebrate the Mass properly and the faithful to participate better. This can only be a good thing, of course – especially if its recommendations are taken on board.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, the prefect of this congregation:
He stressed that the objective of the liturgy ‘is the adoration of God and the salvation of men, which is not a creation of ours, but source and summit of the Church.’
The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized existing abuses such as showmanship, and praised moments of silence ‘that are action’, which enable the priest and the faithful to talk with Jesus Christ and which exclude the predominance of words that often becomes showmanship on the part of the priest. The correct attitude is the one ‘indicated by Saint John the Baptist, when he says he must decrease and the Messiah must increase.’
The cardinal criticized the effort to make the Mass ‘entertaining’ with certain songs – instead of focusing on the mystery – in an attempt to overcome ‘boredom’ by transforming the Mass into a show.
He added that the Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, that it stressed the importance of Christ on the altar, reflected in Benedict XVI’s celebration of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing the altar. This does not exclude the priest facing the people, in particular during the reading of the word of God. He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost.
The whole article may befound here.
Let us pray that this manual, when it comes out, may be gratefully and willingly received in New Zealand.
P.S. for those of us who are uncomfortable with Mass facing the altar, I encourage you to read the rubrics to the Missal of Paul VI (1970, and retained in the latest typical edition), which presume that very thing.