While Fr. Robinson certainly had the celebration of Mass “facing the people” in mind, his concerns are broader than that.
Indeed, we have the strange modern concept of the “closed circle” in so many modern conceptions of the Mass.Too often we are tediously self-referential and anthropocentric. So much of modern liturgy includes long lists of congratulatory references, both done by, but also expected of the celebrant.
There is a Scripture reading proclaimed at the Christmas Liturgy that usually gets overlooked. And yet it should elicit considerable reflection since it is proclaimed at the Christmas Midnight Mass, one of the Church’s most prominent Liturgies. It is from the Letter to Titus in the Second Chapter. I would like to reproduce it in full and then give some commentary following.
There is debate among some in Church, as I suppose there has been in every age, as to how to interpret the signs of the times. It was common in the 1970s and into the 80s for many to speak hopefully of a “Springtime for the Church” as they looked with confidence for the fruits of the Second Vatican Council to take off.
And there have indeed been many Spring fruits: a laity that is more engaged in daily Church life, a Liturgy that flourishes in very diverse ways from traditional Latin Masses, across the spectrum to more charismatic and vernacular expressions, the Catechism of the Catholic Church which has helped stabilize the content of catechesis, the bouncing back of vocations that is underway and the founding of new and reformed Orders along with the blossoming of many lay apostolates, these and other such things speak to the fruits of a kind of springtime.
And yet it is increasingly hard to argue that the temporal order is in anything but increasing disrepair,
God help us if they decide this is not an abuse of the liturgy. If you have ever witnessed such an abomination it will make your head spin. Although forbidden, this abuse is still seen from time to time in parishes throughout our country.