Cardinal Sarah is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Congregation of Divine Worship.
Cardinal Sarah was appointed to that role by Pope Francis.
Cardinal Sarah comes with a background in social welfare, caring for those in most need (Cor Unum) and in working for the Evangelisation of the Peoples.
Cardinal Sarah is in the UK this week.
Cardinal Sarah has AGAIN called for us to return to worship ad oreintem.
Cardinal Sarah suggests this be implemented on the First Sunday of Advent this year.
How many bishops and priests will heed him?
Well, at least one. Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon (a diocese where vocations are frequent) has said that he will do so. In replying to Cardinal Sarah he says:
Your Eminence, I am only one bishop of one diocese in the south of France. But in response to your appeal I wish to announce now, that certainly on the last Sunday of Advent of this year in my celebration of the Holy Eucharist at my cathedral, and on other occasions as appropriate, I shall celebrate ad orientem—towards the Lord who comes. Before Advent I shall address a letter to my priests and people on this question to explain my action. I shall encourage them to follow my example. I shall ask them to receive my personal testimony, as the chief pastor of the diocese, in the spirit of one who wishes to call his people to rediscover the primacy of grace in their liturgical celebrations through this practice. I shall explain that this change will help us to recall the essential nature of Christian worship: that it must always be oriented to the Lord.
How many others will follow his lead?
Advent is indeed a good time to implement this practice, with all its theology of going forward to meet the Lord when He comes again in glory - from the East! In my previous parish - fifteen years ago now - it was the occasion for my venture leading God's people ad oreintem. With catechesis, we had tried it on other occasions - I found that high points in the Church's calendar could be marked out by this practice, especially when other parts of the liturgy were different for some great feast. The Easter Vigil stands out as pre-eminent in this, as is Midnight Mass and, somehow, the solemn celebration of All Souls Day.
At that time, all those years ago, it was a practice seen much less than in these days and I thought the roof might cave in or some other disaster befall - but no. Contrary to what I had been taught at seminary and what the modernist zeitgeist suggested, parish life continued as normal: no one walked out and people came back the next week.
We have been inculturated against this practice by the modernist zeitgeist because it is the one thing that alters the relationships the Mass most profoundly, even more than the use of Latin, in my experience. The relationship between priest the Lord; the relationship between priest and people; the relationship between the worshipping community and the Lord.
If this is not official encouragement to all those who would like to travel the ad orientem path, breaking out of the closed circle of worship and actually heading somewhere, then I don't know what is. I look forward (no pun intended) to the workshops and catechetical resources that will hopefully issue forth from diocesan liturgy commissions up and down the country to assist in this process.
You can read an account of his speech on The New Liturgical Movement and in the Catholic Herald. Here is the meat of what he said:
Cardinal Sarah ended with an appeal to all priests, which will be familiar to those who have read his recent articles and interviews in L’Osservatore Romano and Famille Chrétienne: it is very important that as soon as possible we return to a common orientation of priest and people eastwards in those parts of the liturgy where we are addressing God. This is a very important step to ensure that, in our celebration of the sacred liturgy, God rather than man is at the centre of it. The Cardinal implored all priests to implement this with suitable catechesis, and confidence. He suggested that the 1st Sunday of Advent this year would be a good time to start!