“If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith. Unfortunately, too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant, when, in fact, they are serious abuses.” — Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke

The cardinal hits the nail squarely on the head. Since Vatican II, churches have mostly given up the ad orientum altar in favor of versus populum liturgies. As I see it, this is one of the most fundamental sacrileges the church has made. When the priest and entire congregation all face the altar ad orientum, everyone is symbolically acknowledging that God is greater than we are; that he is most definitely outside of us. Yes, God is also within us. But a versus populum service confines our symbolic reference point to one another; i.e. to imperfect, sinful human beings alone. In such an arrangement, when we bow at the name of Jesus, we are physically bowing to one another instead of towards the altar of God the Father and Creator of All.

Much of the support for versus populum services seems to me to be grounded in egotism and ignorance. Supporters tell me that the priest “turns his back to the people” and that they consider this somehow rude. But liturgy isn’t about them, it’s about God. They don’t seem to think that the people in the pews in front of them are “turning their backs” on people behind them, or at least I don’t think so. But maybe so; supporters of versus populum services also tend to advocate for removing pews altogether and sitting in a circle. I consider that to be egotistical self-congratulation rather than a solemn worship of God.

Although I am fortunate enough to attend a classical cruciform church with stained glass, wooden pews, stone walls, and an ad orientum altar, there is a movement to change that. Of course, doing so would require a major reconstruction effort, but this doesn’t stop those who advocate for it. Hand in hand with this is the movement towards the use of the “contemporary” (a term I refuse to use in the context as it implies that the traditional version isn’t contemporary) version of the Lords Prayer. So far, the traditional version has been retained in most services. So far…

Compare the two:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Which version is the prayer of free men with a faith in God, and which is the prayer servile ego-centric Caspar Milquetoasts?

And what of abandoning the King James version of the Christmas story in Luke? Even complete atheists know parts of that version by heart. But the church forges “ahead” and continues its decline. With every single “reform” people leave the church. On Christmas Eve, I will probably wince at the reading of the new translation of Luke. I will post the King James version here on the evening of the 24th.

I am beginning to wonder whether Christians are infected with a virus. I’m absolutely serious. A virus hijacks an organism and forces it to work in the interests of the virus, not the organism. The Ancients, naturally, knew of this as possession. But whatever the terminology, the relationship between reform and decline seems to me to be one of cause and effect.

Meanwhile Islam, which of course does not reform, continues to ascend everywhere, government leaders incite mobs, police officers are murdered in cold blood, negro gangs are on a nationwide criminal rampage, and anyone who points out any of this is vilified.


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