Liturgy and liturgical spacePost date: 2018-11-02
Liturgy and liturgical space
The Second Vatican Council set out a liturgical reform. Latin as the liturgical language was abolished and the mother tongue was introduced. The priest began to say the Mass facing the people with his back to the tabernacle. In many cases, the tabernacle was placed in the side chapel. The biblical model of the temple – the holy of holies, the sanctuary, and the place for the people – was thus distorted. In the Catholic temple, the tabernacle corresponded to the place of God’s dwelling – the holy of holies, and the altar in the chancel corresponded to the place of the offering of sacrifice by the priest. It was separated from the space for the people by a rail, and in the Eastern liturgy it is still separated by an iconostasis. This is to emphasize the sacredness of this space where God dwells and where the unbloody sacrifice is offered to God. Before the liturgical reform, the priest faced the tabernacle with his back to the people. In this position, he was better able to concentrate on experiencing the mystery of the Eucharist, and he also did not disturb others as he did not draw attention to himself.
It is currently recommended that each diocese should have an opportunity to make certain liturgical adjustments. May they lead to a deepening of faith and sacredness, and not vice versa!
Many priests propose that they should take the same position during the Mass as the priests over hundreds of centuries in the Church’s Tradition, and as is still practised in the Orthodox Church – i.e. both the priest and the people face the centre which is the tabernacle.
Some priests also suggest a moment of silence after the Consecration. It disposes one to become aware of the reality of Christ’s redemptive death on the cross, of His sacrifice even for me and my sins.
In the Eastern liturgy, this period of time of approximately 3-5 minutes is devoted to the Epiclesis during which the choir sings the antiphon: “We praise You, we bless You, we thank You, O Lord, and we pray to You, our God!” The antiphon creates an atmosphere for experiencing the mystery and at the same time for invoking the Holy Spirit to descend on the people of God and on the gifts presented.
In the Latin liturgy, in the moment of silence after the Consecration, the priest can silently pray the Canon instead of reciting it aloud, just as it was practised before the liturgical reform.
Fr. Wenceslas1 November 2018