Matt C. Abbott: The Latin Mass and one priest’s ‘science fiction’

In a recent parish bulletin, Father Bill Conway, pastor of Divine Savior Parish in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., wrote (excerpted and slightly edited; click here to see the bulletin):

It is worth one’s time to consider what some of the Church’s leading theologians at the Second Vatican Council thought and wrote concerning the Eucharist and liturgy. In recent years one hears some speaking of the role of the priest in the liturgy as acting in persona Christi (‘in the person of Christ’). My fear with such language is that it may have the effect of clericalizing the celebration of the Eucharist, making the assembly once again a passive observer….

While I respect the decision of the Holy Father to permit the extraordinary rite of the Tridentine Mass (please note ‘extraordinary’), my criticism of this form is that by the very manner of its celebration it renders the role of the laity to being little more than onlooker. In fact, it was precisely because of this that the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium mandated the reform of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Mass: ‘In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else (#14).’

Phrases such as in persona Christi [and] ad orientem, I believe, run contrary not only to the spirit of Vatican II but to the very tradition of the Church. Jesus did not celebrate the Last Supper with His back to the apostles (ad orientem) but rather reclined at table with them….

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Editor’s note: Well, Father Conway … you have at least, one small victory. Few lay persons (prior to Vatican II) would have had the temerity to criticize any priest’s writings, in this way! So much for that weekly installment of “Deep Thoughts In Downers Grove”!

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