Whenever you change a complex system, things occur that you did not foresee. This point has been made many times by critics of the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms. When you change factor A you might well expect factors B and C to be affected, but you probably don’t expect factors X, Y and Z to be affected. So you have the priest face the people, anticipating that this will lead people to be more engaged in what happens on the altar. You probably don’t anticipate that this will lead some priests to adopt a folksy demeanor.

Today at Mass an unintended consequence of the new translation of the Missal struck me. In the past at a weekday Mass about half of the celebrants did the opening rite and the prayer of the faithful from the altar and about half from the chair (as the rubrics direct). It struck me today that with one exception all of the priests since the introduction of the new Missal have been doing the entrance rite and prayer of the faithful from the altar because the Missal is now too big to comfortably hold, so they use the altar as a kind of reading stand (since there is no altar server to hold the book). The one exception to this is the priest who reads the prayers from his paperback copy of Magnificat.

It’s just a minor thing. What is one more rubric broken, after all? Maybe it’s even a good thing — refocusing attention on the altar for more of the Mass. But one thing for sure, it’s not something that anyone planned for.

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