Page 9, 26th September 2003

26th September 2003
Page 9
Page 9, 26th September 2003 — Facing East
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Facing East

From Mr Timothy Kelly

Sir, After celebrating the doc

trine of the common priesthood of believers, the Revd Anthony Storey (Sept 19) suggests that saying Mass ad populum enriched his sensation of this mystery.

On closer examination, perhaps the celebration of Mass ad orientem is actually an even greater expression of the common priesthood of the baptised. This is because the Church is a mystical body, or as St Thomas Aquinas teaches, quasi Una persona mystira.

This mystical person, the Church, has a head and a body, and as St Paul has clearly stated, Christ is the head and we are the members.

Though all the baptised are incorporated into the body of Christ, and therefore share in His priesthood, in the Mass Christ, the head, is represented by the Priest (in persona Christi), the body by the con gregation. Now it is the role of the sacred liturgy to express this mystery visibly. Fr Storey chooses to describe the celebration of Mass ad orientem as "being with my back to the congregation-, but we should insert that it is also the celebration of Mass with the entire body of Christ (head and members) facing the same way.

This is the decisive feature, and a much clearer expression of a single body united under its head.

Furthermore, when the priest faces the congregation, standing over and against them as a kind of president, any continuity between him and them has been lost. He becomes clearly distinct from them. Because it is a less accurate expression of a body, we have a much weaker expression of the corporate nature of the Church and the mystery of the common priesthood of believers.

Yours faithfully, TIMOTHY KELLY, [email protected]




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