As I was driving home, I was listening to PM on radio 4. After a rather dreadful piece on vicars learning to tell jokes and use humour in their sermons, there was another item which really caught my attention. It was an interview with a Catholic, whose name I didn't catch, who had decided to go to Mass every day in Lent, at a different Church.
His conclusion, from having attended 46 Masses said by 46 different priests on 46 successive days was: 'It's all about the priest...'
Some priests, he found, really brought the Mass alive for him, by the sermons they preached, or the care with which they said the Mass, or (and this was particularly potent for him) saying 'thank you for coming' at the end.
Just think about that: 'It's all about the priest...'
For me, that did seem a sad reflection on our modern liturgy; a fruit in part of the changes to the Mass following the Second Vatican Council, and not least in the orienting of the priest to face the people; but also a fruit of a poor understanding of the Mass by priest and people alike.
One of the things I love about the traditional Latin Mass is that the person of the priest is almost an irrelevance. We are looking through him to Christ. 'It's all about Christ offering the Sacrifice to the Father.' It is true that some manage to say the New Mass in that way - not least our Pope Emeritus (about whose wise liturgical praxis I have blogged here, in passing); but it is also true that a priest who faces East simply doesn't have the temptation (or feel the necessity) of making the Mass all about him.
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