Comprehend the Liturgy

I present my own translation of a piece from La Buhardilla, an interview with Monsignor Bux. In it, he touches on a subject near and dear to my heart, ad orientem worship. The original interview, in Italian, is available at La Buhardilla's page to which I've linked.

An interview by Bruno Volpe with Monsignor Nicola Bux.


"But...what feast? Liturgy is a drama": thus affirms Mons. Nicola Bux, theologian and liturgist of the highest fame. With him, I dealt with the theme of the meaning the sacred in the liturgy.

I believe the meaning of the sacred will recuperate when the Mass is comprehended never as a spectacle, an entertainment, or the property of the priest, but as a drama truly and properly. Often we fill their mouths with the word "feast", but...what feast? In the Mass we remember the sacrifice of Christ, this is true. Christ has been immolated for us and later we use the word feast... It is correct to talk of a feast only after we have comprehended and accepted the concept of Christ giving his life for us. Only then is it licit to talk about a feast, but never before.

Later he adds:

A good liturgy has the cross at its center but, frequently placed to the side or in places not visible, it has lost its true and authentic signification. It seems much more an accessory object than the centre of adoration. Sometimes I have the sensation that a cross at the centre of the altar produces annoyance, almost uncomfortable. To be tough: most of the time, no one is looking.

Mons. Bux talks of the concept of devotion:

To restore to the liturgy the sense of the sacred, devotion is necessary. Enough Masses are celebrated as mundane events and entertainment. Devotion is necessary, the encounter with the face of God. But unfortunately this occurance is very, very rare. Without an encounter with the true face of God, without devotion, the Mass is converted into a ritual, an auto-celebration of the priest which has no sense.

Provocatively, Mons. Bux poses a question:

How many today, celebrating the Mass, look at God and at the cross? Few. And so the sense of the sacred is diminishing in our Masses.

So, what can one do?

I think a good idea could be the following: in the second part of the Mass, after the Offertory onwards, the priest could celebrate directed to the cross, ad orientem.

Why ad orientem?

Thus, the faithful would no longer [see] the figure of the priest, who is not the protagonist, but with him contemplate the cross, the mystery.

Therefore, the ad orientem position in the second part of the Mass...

I find it convenient. In this way, the Liturgy acquires a value more eschatological, a value of mystery and adoration; the people themselves commence to comprehend and appreciate the eschatological value (to use a difficulte word) of the Liturgy. Looking to the east is equivalent to contemplating the Lord who comes. I think that this position, which on the other hand is used by the Eastern rites, can help you find greater recollection. Here is my modest proposal for a gradual and sensible reform: look to the east in the second part of the Holy Mass.

In an interview he conceded a few days ago, the historian Franco Cardini has talked of the crisis of the sense of the sacred...

It is necessary to see in what sense he has said this. But the sense of the sacred is God. Apparently, this sense of the sacred, that is, proximity and seeking God, now seems obfuscated, that is certain. But I would not be so pessimistic. Basically, man is always naturally seeking God. Often also personal comfort or corrupt forms and wrong such as superstition or magic, but in the end that contact is being sought. Alliance with God, even selfish, is convenient for man.

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