I've been thinking lately about the decision of Bishop Edward Slattery of Oklahoma City to begin facing the altar, rather than the people, at Mass.
Bishop Slattery says he is celebrating ad orientem, (facing East) as part of his urging Catholics "to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship."
Authentic tradition of Catholic worship? From what age of the church, I wonder. Surely not the Last Supper. And surely not the "house churches" in the early centuries of Christianity where people sat around a table.
But mostly, I cannot image a faster way to alienate people in parishes than to do this. After decades of being taught that the Eucharist is a communal celebration, this feels like shunning the People of God. I want to ask Bishop Slattery: Are you afraid of the people? If not, then why… as my mother would say… are you being so impolite?
Just $5 a month supports NCR's independent Catholic journalism.
We are committed to keeping our online journalism open and available to as many readers as possible. To do that, we need your help. Join NCR Forward, our new membership program.
Looking for comments?
We've suspended comments on NCRonline.org for a while. If you missed that announcement, learn more about our decision here.