RECENT ARTICLE promoted by Liturgical Press would seem to contradict the notion that, because we have the internet now, myths about Vatican II are going away. You see, the internet cannot replace familiarity gained by careful study and/or experience with the traditional rites of the Church.
In the words of its author, this article sought to, “establish that celebration facing the people isn’t a strange modern invention.” However, if the author had become familiar with preconciliar missals going back centuries, he would have realized that that no such article is required. 1
The author makes a very silly statement:
Some read versus here as if it were conversus, i.e. “turning toward the people”, and therefore implying that the priest was previously facing away from them. As far as I can see, conversus ad populum appears nowhere in the IGRM.
Leave aside his erroneous assertion that versus means “facing” and conversus means “turned.” (The root word literally means “to turn about.”) Leave aside his assertion that a nuanced translation could “imply” the priest was “previously facing away from them”—we’ll deal with that a little later. The most surprising thing is the author’s ignorance of Latin word order! One of the very first things students learn is that Latin doesn’t rely heavily upon word order (unlike English).
Had the author known this, he would have searched for ad populum conversus instead of conversus ad populum. The former does indeed appear in the postconciliar books. For example, look at the 1969 GIRM:
Or, look at the Third Edition of the Roman Missal:
Moreover, the current GIRM and Missal frequently use the phrase ad altare conversus, for example:
158. Postea, stans ad altare conversus, sacerdos secreto dicit: Corpus Christi custódiat me in vitam aetérnam, et reverenter sumit Corpus Christi. Deinde accipit calicem, secreto dicens: Sanguis Christi custódiat me in vitam aetérnam, et reverenter sumit Sanguinem Christi.
Whether one uses a less accurate translation of [con]versus (“facing”) or a more accurate translation (“having turned toward”) is irrelevant. The meaning is clear—not only from centuries of tradition—but from this: THE CURRENT MISSAL CLEARLY SAYS WHEN THE PRIEST SHOULD TURN TOWARD THE CONGREGATION AND WHEN THE PRIEST SHOULD TURN TOWARD THE ALTAR. DISCERNING THE IMPLICATION DOES NOT REQUIRE A PH.D.CANDIDATE.
HERE’S SOME ADVICE FOR MY FRIENDS on the “progressive” side. When it comes to understanding liturgical history, take advantage of Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass. As Cardinal Antonelli wrote:
Many of those who have influenced the reform […] have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there.
Outspoken leaders of the “progressive” camp are quick to dismiss the traditions of the Church, yet often have no idea what the Traditional Mass looked like. A former secretary of the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy (who served more than two decades ago) recently made this comment, not realizing the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are always said quietly, never sung. 2
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Indeed, serious publications have often noted this fact. For example, consider the words of Msgr. Schuler and Fr. Deryck Hanshell.
2 I find this remarkable. After all, the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar tend to be quite a well-known section of Mass, especially for Altar boys.