I am surprised by how much this article upset me. I converted to Catholicism in 1981, and so I have never known any other form of the Mass than the Novus Ordo, so it naturally seems right to me. If the Church switches back to having the priest face the altar instead of the people (as it was for centuries prior, I understand), it will seem so much less intimate to me. I do understand the rationale for Cardinal Sarah's wish: the priest is offering the Sacrifice on our behalf, and he is offering it to God: but I don't understand why some say having the priest facing the congregation means that we are turned inward on ourselves, instead of toward God.
At the Last Supper, Jesus was sitting at table with His disciples when He instituted the Eucharist. He was facing them, and then handing around the bread and wine:
- Mk 14:22-24
- While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many."
...also, very intimate, it seems to me. If the priest is facing toward the altar, we will no longer be able to see his gestures as he performs the Holy Sacrifice, and that will be very hard for me! I love seeing his hands, ordained by a legitimate Bishop of the Church, now having the power to consecrate simple bread and wine, and cause the miracle of Transubstantiation to occur right in front of us. I love seeing him hold up the Host, and then the chalice, for our adoration. I love bowing my head, in awe over what has just happened, and contemplating the fact that I, unworthy though I am, will soon be receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the love of my life!
Obviously, I accept the authority of the Church to change things, and I will adapt if this happens; I could not possibly leave the Church: once having found the Truth, you can never go back. But it will be a struggle, for sure. I asked Father Rafael, my former pastor, if he thought this really would happen, and he replied, "I don't think so. Present liturgy will remain for a while." But apparently he thinks it will change at some point in the future. I emailed Archbishop Gregory to say how much I hope this doesn't occur... but I am afraid it probably will :-(