One day at Oxford in 1982, I asked my tutor, Bishop Kallistos Ware, what Orthodox thought of the Catholic liturgy as reformed by Paul VI. Sensing immediately where I was coming from, he replied that Orthodox had mixed feelings: they mostly approved of things like the use of the vernacular and the restoration of the cup to the laity as returns to an older tradition. They were less impressed by innovations like celebration facing the people.
I agreed with him then and now. Almost forty years later, I still think he was right. A little of my personal story will serve to give context to the reflections that follow. As an adolescent, I encountered Latin liturgy (in the new rite) and it drew me, uninspired by the vernacular liturgy which took its place, to considering priesthood. I was just too young to remember the old Latin Mass, but when Archbishop Lefebvre became notorious for rejecting the post-Vatican II reforms, I acquainted myself with the older rites and fell in love with them. Read More