Last week, on the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, Poppe Francis with the Metropolitan Archbishop of Prešov, Ján Babjak, and other Greek and Latin Catholic prelates, celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
I don’t really want to start a discussion here on the issues with Eastern Rite Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Two things did immediately leap out at me: I was delighted to see the grand square altar; and I noticed that censing occurred in a clockwise direction.
Why the Western tradition censes in an anti-clockwise direction was a question that came up recently at the Anglo-Catholic Hui. No answer was forthcoming. Just as Eastern Christianity makes the sign of the cross right-shoulder-then-left, and Western Christianity does so in the reverse direction (left-shoulder-then-right). I wonder if there is little more than changing direction just to be different?!
Eastern Christians see the clockwise censing as being “sunwise“. Of course, “sunwise” in the Southern Hemisphere would be anti-clockwise! If you can point to earliest histories of censing freestanding altars and the direction and interpretation of that, do let us know, please.
I cannot comment much on the full liturgy as I view the service through a Western lens. Pope Francis’ sermon is here. Here is the full service: