Losing Touch With Our Humanity

The culture and educational system of the contemporary West are based almost exclusively upon the training of the reasoning brain and, to a lesser degree, of the aesthetic emotions. Most of us have forgotten that we are not only brain and will, senses and feelings; we are also spirit. Modern man has for the most part lost touch with the truest and highest aspect of himself; and the result of this inward alienation can be seen all too plainly in his restlessness, his lack of identity and his loss of hope.

KALLISTOS WARE, THE ORTHODOX WAY, REV. ED. (YONKERS, NY: ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS, 1995), 55.

Encountering the Divine in the Other

For each of us—perhaps once or twice only in the whole course of our life—there have been sudden moments of discovery when we have seen disclosed the deepest being and truth of another, and we have experienced his or her inner life as if it were our own. And this encounter with the true personhood of another is, once more, a contact with the transcendent and timeless, with something stronger than death. To say to another, with all our heart, “I love you”, is to say, “You will never die.” At such moments of personal sharing we know, not through arguments but by immediate conviction, that there is life beyond death. So it is that in our relations with others, as in our experience of ourselves, we have moments of transcendence, pointing to something that lies beyond.

Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, rev. ed. (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 15.

Just Keep Walking!

Some concelebrants greet the lay people they recognize from present or former ministry. Before Mass begins or after its conclusion, such salutations can beautifully build up the Body of Christ. But once the liturgy has begun, and until it is completely over, a concelebrant’s attention best focuses on the words and actions of the Mass. Some priests wave at someone they recognize while they are walking in procession, as if they were celebrities on parade before an admiring crowd. They need the reminder, “This is not about you.” It is about Christ. At all times, the liturgy is about Christ, and he deserves a priest’s rapt attention.

PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 124.

The Breaking of the Bread

Don’t Take My Voice

However, some priests – and deacons – make the response that the people are supposed to shoulder for themselves. These clergy probably think that they are being helpful. But such behavior keeps people from learning these responses and makes them feel unwelcome to say them. For example, the minister is to say, “The Gospel of the Lord,” but not the response. That is for the people to do. If they do not respond well this week, they will learn in the weeks to come, but not if the one who proclaims the gospel speaks both parts of the dialogue.

PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 51.

Facing The Pray-ers

All these examples [of rubrical instructions] show the reverence the church has for the prayers that the priest addresses to God while facing the people. The rubrics have a clear expectation that celebrating ad orientem is not an equal option. As this book notes, however, “facing the people” is not the same as “looking at the people.” When the priest prays, he will help the people pray if he looks above them rather than at them.

PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 29.