By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Westward Leading, Still Proceeding


English: Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many of us have sung today the old hymn "We Three Kings of Orient Are," and recall these verses:

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,

Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

For many years, some Catholics have pushed hard for what is called "ad orientem" worship with the priest-celebrant of the Mass, along with the congregation, facing east. Pope Benedict XVI wrote very astutely and persuasively for the adoption of this liturgical perspective.

Yet, I could not help thinking as I sang the hymn that the Magi, representing the Gentiles, faced west, expectantly, to look for Jesus. Why could not this biblical story be the basis for "ad occidentem" worship facing westward like the Magi? Could we not argue a similarly persuasive case for worship facing westward? Of course, we could.

Lesson: No one liturgical perspective or view is necessarily the only legitimate alternative. I think Pope Benedict would agree. But too many speak as if their favorite perspective is the only perspective and play into the hands of Screwtape.