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Are We Talking to God or to Ourselves? A Test Case in Liturgical Orientation


Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became pope, argued in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy for the appropriateness of an ‘Eastern’ orientation of both priest and people in the celebration of Mass, the orientation which, with few exceptions, obtained in celebrations of the Tridentine Mass. The argument was more recently taken up by Cardinal Sarah, who argued for a return to this orientation. According to this way of thinking, when the priest celebrates facing the people, the danger is that the community becomes focussed in on itself instead of on God; and when all face the same direction, the community is united in its orientation beyond itself, in a gaze towards God.

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