Monday, December 1, 2014


As those who read this blog know, St. Joseph Church in Macon celebrates the 12:10 PM Sunday Ordinary Form Mass "ad orientem."

What this means is that the Mass is just like all our other Ordinary Form Masses in music and otherwise, except the Liturgy of the Eucharist is ad orientem, meaning the priest faces the apse rather than the nave. (Technically all our Masses are ad orientem as we have adopted Pope Benedict's compromise of placing a crucifix directly in front of the celebrant as the symbol of facing east toward Jerusalem and the rising of the sun).

The Introductory Rite and Concluding Rite are at the chair as is normal for the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

We began this new orientation about three years ago. I had minimal catechesis on it. What has astounded me is that in the three years since we implemented this, only one parishioner who attended it to find out would it would be like (she normally went to the 9:30 AM Mass) did not like it.

Not one other person criticized it making me wonder if anyone even noticed the change! I did have an irate visitor from the post-Catholic northeast come up to me after Mass and say that I ruined his visit to Macon by turning my back on him. He was mad!

Yesterday, the 12:10 PM Mass was full and with many young people.

But no one says anything to me about their experience of the ad orientem from their perspective.

I don't know what to think.

For me, I find the Mass and my experience of celebrating the Mass this way more prayerful. In fact when at the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Prayer, things are so quiet that I wonder if anyone is behind me!

I am not distracted by unnecessary movement in the nave as when I face the congregation for the Eucharistic Prayer. I can focus on this part of the Mass as prayer, as sacrifice and contemplate the beauty of what it is the Great Lord has called me to do as His priest.  It is awesome and this orientation magnifies the awesomeness of it.

If anyone reading this blog attends this 12:10 PM Mass, please or please give me your thoughts. Have you even noticed the difference?


qwikness said...

I attend the 12:10 mass and like it very much. Recently I have been taking my little girl to the 9:30 mass for the Children's liturgy. Seeing the ad populum orientation again took some getting used to. It seemed the priest was, well, too present in the liturgy, if I may describe it that way. The priest, ad populum is too in the way.

mordacil said...

I prefer to attend the 12:10 ad orientem mass for all the reasons traditionalists might espouse. But I know that some at least prefer the 12:10 mass only for the convenience of the time slot. It allows them to sleep in as late as they want while leaving their afternoon free, both of which really appeal to younger people.

Unknown said...

Is it permissible in the Ordinary Form for the priest to pray the Introductory Rites at the altar, similar to the Extraordinary Form or the Anglican Use?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

All the prayers are allowed at the altar although there are no rubrics for the Mass to begin and end at the Epistle side. Normally the priest would stand at the middle, but no reason why he couldn't start and end at the Epistle side. I think the ambo would have to be used for the Scriptures.

Rood Screen said...

"All the prayers are allowed at the altar..." Are you certain? I thought the Introductory Rites had to be at the chair in all Masses with a congregation.

Anonymous said...

For the OF Introductory Rites:

"When the priest has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the CHAIR. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the priest, facing the people, says: . . . "

There follow the greeting, the Penitential Act, Gloria, Collect.

Anonymous said...

Not being a priest myself, my observation of priests over the past forty years suggests to me that many or most of them generally regard the GIRM directions merly as norms in typical OF practice, but not as mandatory law. In short, as flexibly descriptive rather than rigidly prescriptive. (I myself would favor rubrics binding under pain of mortal sin.)

George said...

I attend the 7:45 Mass on Sunday but have also attended the 12:10. I also attend the Tuesday Latin Low Mass.

I do Like the ad orientum for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I really believe most people would accept it as they do at the 12:10.

Daniel said...

At St. Joseph, the nave is at the east end of the church (slightly to the northeast, to be precise) and the apse slightly to the southwest. (Note that at morning Masses, the sun rises on the city hall side, toward East Macon and the river. At afternoon masses, the sun sets on the Mercer-Medical Center side.)
So if you're facing the congregation, you are facing east, as is traditional. If your back is toward the congregation, you're facing west.
I;m not invested in the church politics of it all. But if the goal is to face east, you're doing it wrong.

George said...

In my life, I have attended Catholic Churches facing every major direction of the compass. Liturgical east is not the same as geographical east and there are Churches in which it must suffice. However, looking at it from another perspective, if one were to imagine a line transiting the center aisle of St Joseph's and exiting the Church at the SW side,and then circumscribing the earth, you would end up somewhere on the east side of our planet.

qwikness said...

I really don't get why anyone would have a problem with it. To say "the back was turned" is so inconsequential because the whole rest of the mass is ad populum. The readings, the homily etc. It's probably 75% ad populum anyway.

John Nolan said...

There have been arguments in favour of versus populum celebration. One of these (widely held in the 1960s) was that this was the practice in the early Church. However, more recent scholarship shows that this was not the case.

An officer does not lead his men into battle while facing them. I accept that the arguments for versus populum for the Liturgy of the Eucharist have some validity; but the case for a common orientation at this point are much, much stronger. The Liturgy of the Word is different; in the OF it makes sense to face the congregation at this point.

Indeed, I have seen EF Solemn Masses at which both Epistle and Gospel were chanted from the ambo versus populum; this is not in the 1960 rubrics but ambos (as seen in very early churches) were not generally reintroduced until 1965.

Although this might give Pater Ignotus apoplexy, I have never argued that all the liturgical changes since V2 were wrong. Last Sunday the Mass I attended was entirely in English. Next Sunday I shall be singing at an EF Mass where everything will be in Latin. Both are equally valid and legitimate, and the same spiritual benefit can be derived from either.

Anonymous said...

I once was represented by a lawyer in a case that was argued quietly before the judge. Neither I nor anyone in the audience had any reason to hear what the lawyer was saying to the judge in my behalf. I did not care whether my lawyer was facing east or west, north or south. But I certainly was glad he was facing the judge to whom he was speaking, and thus had his back to me. (I should refrain from saying, in disgusting current parlance, that he thereby "had my back.")

Templar said...

Father, because of our travel distance to attend Mass, our customary practice was to fulfill our obligation at either the Saturday Vigil, or the Sunday evening Mass as it made it easier on the schedule. Since you started to offer the 1210 as an AO facing Mass it is the only Mass we attend, except when the TLM is available when we prefer it. We all like it very much, and personally I prefer it since it denies the Priest the temptation of "engaging the audience". A problem with some Priests more than others. Rarely have I ever heard a quibble about the orientation of the Mass, and when I do they are usually visitors to St Joseph, some comments are purely out of interest, some are nasty. The quizzical ones I usually try and educate and they are generally receptive. Once had a person ask me after Mass if this Church was "in communion with Rome", it wasn't asked meanly, they were genuinely concerned because they were just sure that the Priest with his back facing the congregation, and the Latin (it was that time of year) were outlawed. She was ignorant not upset, and flabbergasted when I explained. I think most of your locals understand you, and you've given more Catechesis than you probably think. Not all preaching requires words.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is an OF Mass celebrated ad orientem at any parish in the Savannah area?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Just Macon :(