Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Which Way the Priest Faces

I converted to Catholicism well after the sixties, Vatican II, and the weird "in the spirit of Vatican II" stuff. Quite a lot that went down in American churches that were nominally Catholic wasn't in the Vatican II documents - and wasn't "in the spirit of Vatican II", either. Which is another topic.

One of the things that happened then was that the altar 'got turned around.' Instead of the priest facing the altar with his back to the congregation, he was facing the altar, and the folks in the pews.

Some Catholics at the time who had grown up with the older ways and realized that there was something drastically wrong with some of the new practices, like keeping the consecrated Host in a cloth bag between Masses, figured that the priest facing the congregation was just one more bogus notion.

Interestingly, it wasn't. I know about the pre-Vatican II practices at Mass, and the new ones. I sort of like the older traditions. But that's not the way we do it now, in America.

And, that's okay. The Catholic Church takes local culture into account, and I suspect that's part of what was going on in this case. It looks like the locals here really didn't like having the priest face away from them - and, more to the point, might be getting the wrong idea about what was going on.

It's like the ban on liturgical dance in Catholic churches - in the West. Elsewhere, it's a good idea: and encouraged.

Maybe the Church decided that the locals here in America and other places had to have another one of their cultural foibles accommodated, about where to put the priest.

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2 comments:

Brigid said...

It's also a lot easier to follow what's going on if you can see what the priest is doing. (It also helps to see his mouth when he talks, which is one of the reasons I like to sit in the front.)

Oh, and a typo: "But that's not the way we do it not"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Thanks: fixed it.

I don't have a problem with the current arrangement, particularly on practical grounds. I don't (quite) lip-read: but using visual cues to back up auditory input does help.

I think it's the symbolism of priest-as-intercessor that I 'miss' from today's mass. But the Masses are valid, and that's the main point.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.