Sunday, November 27, 2016


Diocesan News

Ad orientem Masses encouraged during Advent

Story by S.L. Hansen

LINCOLN (SNR) — During Advent again this year, priests all around the world will celebrate Mass ad orientem in response to a request by His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This will include priests in the Diocese of Lincoln, all of whom are invited to celebrate the Mass in this way during Advent. 
“Ad orientem” means that priests and other altar servers stand on the same side of the altar as the lay faithful. When the priest and the people are facing the tabernacle together in worship, all can focus more fully on Christ.
The cardinal made his request during his opening address at Sacra Liturgica UK July 5. 
“I believe that it is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction…” he said. “I think it is a very important step in ensuring that in our celebrations the Lord is truly at the center.”
He added, “Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘They have turned their backs to me and not their faces’ (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”
Bishop James Conley addressed this liturgical practice in his November 21, 2014 column in the Southern Nebraska Register
“The symbolism of the priest and people facing ad orientem—to the east—is an ancient reminder of the coming of Christ,” he wrote, “Since ancient times, Christians have faced the east during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to remember to keep watch for Christ.”
He noted that this orientation also applies when the altar is not situated on the east side of the building. 
“Even in Churches that did not face the east, the priest and people stood together in the Mass, gazing at Christ on the crucifix, on the altar, and in the tabernacle, to recall the importance of watching for his return,” he said. 
This symbolism is especially appropriate during Advent, the season during which all Catholics eagerly await the coming of the Lord. 
“Today, at a time when it is easy to forget that Christ is coming—and easy to be complacent in our spiritual lives and in the work of evangelization—we need reminders that Christ will come,” the bishop reasoned in his 2014 column.
He is already leading by example.  
“Currently, when the Bishop celebrates Mass at the Cathedral, he celebrates ad orientem, which he will plan to do for Midnight Mass this year,” said Father Daniel Rayer, chancellor. 
Of course, it is far more common for Catholics to attend Mass celebrated versus populum (or “facing the people”).  In this posture, the people see the face of the priest as he prays and are thus encouraged to enter into worship of the Lord. Likewise, the priest sees the faces of the people, which encourages him in celebrating the Mass. 
As Bishop Conley explained in his column, “These positions can have important symbolism too.  They can remind us that we are a community—one body in Christ. And they can remind us that the Eucharist, at the center of the assembly, should also be at the center of our families, and our lives.”
Neither orientation is particularly preferred by the Holy See, so there is no need for any layperson to feel any sort of discomfort whether they attend Mass celebrated ad orientem or versus populum. Also, modern technology enables all the lay faithful to hear priests praying the Mass through the use of microphones. 
Some laypersons miss the face-to-face connection with the priest at an ad orientem Mass, but Father Rayer assures that the unity of worship is still there. 
“This is not about, as many tend to say, the priest turning his back to the people,” he said. “They are facing the same direction toward the Lord.” 
Father Rayer emphasized that Cardinal Sarah’s request to resume ad orientem during Advent is completely optional. It’s up to each priest to decide what is best for the lay faithful, and also what the physical space around the altar allows. 
Bishop Conley has requested that any priest who chooses to celebrate Mass ad orientem during Advent provide appropriate catechesis to the faithful before doing so. For more information, please consult your pastor.


Rood Screen said...

Had the holy reforms of VCII been faithfully implemented, the whole Church would look like the Diocese of Lincoln (USA) today, catechetically and liturgically.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"When the priest and the people are facing the tabernacle together in worship, all can focus more fully on Christ."

I find no difficulty focusing on Christ while celebrating versus populum.

"...the priest and people stood together in the Mass, gazing at Christ on the crucifix, on the altar, and in the tabernacle..."

Did they gaze as described? Is it not entirely possible to "gaze" at Christ in the Crucifix, on the altar, in the tabernacle when the orientation is versus populum?

Emphasizing Cardinal Sarah's request without even noting the official response from the Holy See to Card Sarah is not entirely on the up and up.

Comunicato della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede: Alcuni chiarimenti sulla celebrazione della Messa, 11.07.2016 / Holy See Press Office Communiqué: Some clarifications on the celebration of Mass is available online.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Isn't the bishop there your classmate? And how is it that he gets it so right and you so wrong since you had the same seminary experience?

TJM said...

Father Kavanuagh,

I presume you can at least read and comprehend Latin. Please then explain how you can possibly deny that in the Npvus Ordo the rubrics presume that the normative position for the celebrant is to face ad orientem since the rubrics direct the priest several times to turn towards the congregation for certain salutations and prayers.

Newsflash, I really don't care to see your kisser during Mass. Face the Lord, not me. FYI, you're not fit to kiss Cardinal Sarah's feet (are you also a racist?, I learned that bon mot from my Democratic friends who say it is always racist to dispute the opinions of a Black man)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Yes, Jim Conley and I were classmates at Mt St Mary's.

Since nothing in our shared course of studies there addressed the question of ad orientem worship, I suspect his appreciation of it was formed long before he arrived at Holy Mother Mountain.

Now, would you care to discuss the points I raised, or are you just going to continue to make snarky comments?

Anonymous said...

all diocese's will not be celebrating ad orientem , and I wonder what the map would look like per diocese (or state)comparing ad orientem and versus populum. Of course I am drawing a comparison to the red-blue election maps. I am neither the strong traditionalist nor ultra liberal, but I would prefer to see some of the older churches restored with their original altars and communion rails. I would like to see the argument drift away from politics, and back towards the Lord. I fear the map I suggest might reveal a strong political divide. Sad I might never see ad orientem, or hear Latin,  unless I move to another part of the country.

Anonymous said...

In the Savannah Diocese, the bishop won't even throw us crumbs. He's officially banned ad orientem in the Novus Ordo (and if TJM's interpretation is right about the GIRM, and I have no reason to think otherwise, I'm not even sure if the bishop has the authority to do that). I'm sure that he'd ban the Tidentine Mass if he thought he could get away with it. Well, until he starts throwing us crumbs again, I'm not sending him a cent. I hope he reads this. I've put up with crappy and heretical liturgy for my entire life and I simply refuse to take it any more. No accommodation=no damn money.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anonymous, your statement is a lie. There is no ban, official or unofficial, on ad orientem in this Diocese.

Your statement is a lie.

Fr. McDonald, your posting this assertion, which you know to be a lie, is publicly disrespectful to your bishop.

Take down the post.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My replacement in Macon has written in the bulletin that the bishop didn't want parishes doing the OF as orientem and thus he stopped doing it at the 12:10 Mass. He indicated that it was at a presbyterial coiuncol meeting. But no longer on the council, I have heard nothing official from the bishop communicated to the dice at large.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

So, knowing there is no official ban, you approve for posting on you blog blatant lies about your bishop.

What leads you to think this is appropriate?

The Accused said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

Quite apart from the fact that you are grossly uncharitable in you tone and your accusations, kindly explain for me the statement contained in this bulletin, which I found today in my parish.

In case this fails to load, I quote the relevant passage, written by our pastor: "After reflection on the issue, our own Bishop Hartmayer communicated to the priests of the Diocese of Savannah that he did not want any of the churches in his diocese celebrating the Mass in the 'Ad Orientem' manner."

So, Fr. Kavanaugh . . . is Fr. Winchel a liar, or is Bishop Hartmayer the liar, or are you just grossly ignorant of the goings-on in your own diocese and parish? Or are YOU the liar, sir?

I take the strongest exception to your scurrilous characterization of me. Over the years on this blog, despite my constant attempts to engage you in civil discourse and to maintain a respectful tone towards you, you have in return shown the most unremittingly disingenuous, uncharitable, and intolerant attitude towards me and my viewpoints that I can recall coming across in discussions with an individual. You have called me many names over this time and otherwise treated me contemptibly, but never this bald-faced an accusation. This would be bad enough with any individual, but for a priest to behave this way is inexcusable and a horrendous witness to the faith you claim to represent. You are a hateful and petty man. Were dueling not illegal, the only thing that would now prevent me from challenging you in light of your above accusation is the fact that one only duels with gentlemen, which you are certainly not.

If you and your views are truly representative of the teachings of the Catholic faith, then you are welcome to that faith. I want no part of it. To paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, if that's all it is, then to hell with it.

Joseph Johnson said...

If Fr. Winchel has put what he says the bishop indicated about ad orientem in the parish bulletin I would have no reason to doubt it and(because I believe it is true) it truly disappoints me with our bishop.

I'm still active in my parish but I must confess that my former fervor (as during the JPII and BXVI eras) for the Catholic Church at this point has receded considerably. I'm just "treading water" at this point and praying and waiting for better times (and that I am still here when they come!). I'm sorry, Fr. McDonald, I still view your blog daily (for encouragement) but try as I might to find the bright spots with our current pope, bishop and my current pastor, (as kind a man as he can be)liturgically speaking, it is a bleak scene indeed. As examples, he still believes in using a plain cheap communion cup (like the ones the EMHC's use) for his chalice so that he will be "close to his people" (something that is probably only meaningful to him alone) and still uses the oversized priest's host (sign value) and overlay stoles. I'm so sick of this "Vateken Tew" obsessive overthought mentality of simplicity, "hospitality" and sign value with liturgical matters! Just give me the Mass as a ritualistic act of worship and Sacrifice (grounded in the Roman tradition for western Catholics) and forget about all the "hospitality"---I can get that after Mass outside the sanctuary!

You're right, this is the last stand of the 1970's mentality and I'm not liking it at all---I just want to survive it---to have it pass. God please deliver us!

Православный физик said...

People look East (except the priest)....Oh the irony is quite great on this.

Carol H. said...

I noticed that our new priest asked for more EMHCs and stopped celebrating Mass ad orientem the weekend following the bishop's visit for the Parish Anniversary. Makes me wonder if our priest was given notice at that time.

I'm praying that as more bishops make it known that they are following Cardinal Sara's suggestion, that the Diocese of Savannah will follow. I do believe in miracles!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I appreciate the directive that Fr. Winchel wrote in the bulletin. While I prefer the flexibility that the bishop of Lincoln offers, the important thing to understand is that the bishop of a diocese is the primary liturgies of his diocese and can legislate this, that and the other, limiting or denying what one most recent edition of the OF Missal allows. For example a bishop could ban Saturday vigil Masses, intinction, the common chalice, female lectoes and servers, or he could mandate these, insist on ad oriented and require Latin for certain parts of the Mas. While I have my personal preferences clearly in the liturgical law of the Church, the bishop's preferences trump mine and I must acquiesce to his desires out of my promise of obedience.

Anonymous said...

No disrespect intended Father, but Lincoln Nebraska is NOT the "land of Lincoln"--that slogan goes to the state of Illinois.

Gene said...

The Savannah Diocese Bishop looks more like the CEO of some corporation or maybe a commodities broker than a Priest. Another milque toast go-along-to-get-along Vatican tool. The very notion that a Bishop would disallow ad orientum celebration indicates that he is just another post-modern Priest, leaping enthusiastically into the flood tide of unbelief and the meaningless reliance upon humanistic and rationalistic philosophy as the hope for humanity. The Gates of Hell are working overtime...with a lot of assistance from within. On a lighter note:

God's plan made a hopeful beginning,
But, man spoiled its chances by sinning.
We trust that the story,
Will end in God's Glory,
But, at present, the other side's winning.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, but my title is literalism about the city/Diocese of Lincoln as it is the land of Lincoln 😇

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

T. Accused - I have no idea, given your use of a nom de blog, if we have ever conversed on this blog prior to this thread. I suggest you put your real name on your posts.

I can't explain Fr. Winchel's bulletin letter. What I can say is that both Fr. McDonald and I are, shall we say, especially sensitive to matters liturgical. I can also say that we are both pretty good about being aware of what's what in terms of official diocesan communications.

Now, neither Fr. McDonald nor I can recall receiving a communication from the bishop which "officially" bans ad orientem celebration in the NO. I must say that I don't think a diocesan bishops can, in fact, enact such a ban. He is free, of course, to express his preferences. He might argue for the implementation of ad orientem worship, as Bishop Conley has. He might argue against the implementation. But I'm not at all sure that ad orientem can be banned.

Let's look at the quote from Fr. Winchel's letter - "After reflection on the issue, our own Bishop Hartmayer communicated to the priests of the Diocese of Savannah that he did not want any of the churches in his diocese celebrating the Mass in the 'Ad Orientem' manner."

This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an official ban. It is no more a ban that Bishop Conley's stand is an official mandate that ad orientem worship MUST be implemented.

I am sure Fr. McDonald is researching this matter as am I. We have a deanery priests meeting tomorrow - that will provide a good opportunity for us to seek clarification from others.

Thank you for mentioning my actual cousin-by-marriage, Flannery O'Connor. Her comment, "To hell with it" referred, as you know, to the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament which someone referred to as a "symbol."

As to dueling, well, I might quote Aunt Pitty Pat (no relation), "Uncle Peter! My smelling salts!"

Rood Screen said...

Father Kavanaugh raises a some good points.

First, the fundamental orientation of the Mass is towards the Father, not towards Christ. Therefore, the tabernacle is irrelevant during the Sacrifice. Indeed, in the EF it is customary to place an altar card in front of the tabernacle. As for the altar cross, it merely points us to the Father (the altar cross is a symbol; the Content of the tabernacle is real).

Second, there is no directive in the rubrics to gaze at the altar cross, which is fitting, given its inanimate nature, although its presence on or near the altar is a valuable reminder to us of the sacrificial nature of the Mass.

Third, the Vatican press notice seems to have been directed more against false conclusions deriving from the cardinal's remarks, than directly at the remarks themselves. The repudiation of the "reform of the reform", however, seems to have been directed straight at the cardinal.

Finally, it seems to me that if a priest of the diocese published a message from the bishop which banned ad orientem worship, then Father McDonald can hardly be blamed for publishing a comment that refers to this supposed ban. Perhaps the bishop saw no need to inform Father Kavanaugh of this ban.

Anonymous said...

I understand that in another southern diocese, where some ad orientem Masses have started in Lent, it is considered prudent for pastors not to schedule two ad orientem Masses in succession on Sunday morning, lest folks be deprived of a choice.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh, like a typical "liberal" refuses to respond to posts he knows he cannot answer because it would show he doesn't know what he is talking about. The rubrics of the OF clearly presume the priest is celebrating Mass ad orientem. A bishop LACKS the authority to override the rubrics for his personal preferences.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the CDW indicated, upon Mother Angelica's appeal of Birmingham's prohibition (subsequently rescinded) of ad orientem Masses within the diocese, that a diocesan bishop does not have legitimate authority to prohibit this, since the OF rubrics envision presume ad orientem celebration. However, a bishop obviously has ample means and the practical power to impose his personal preferences on his priests.

Joseph Johnson said...

You know, Henry, I had forgotten that but I do recall reading about the Mother Angelica/ad orientem dispute in the chapter entitled "ad orientem" in Raymond Arroyo's book about Mother Angelica's life and work. Has the juridical status of ad orientem in the OF changed since that time? (I doubt it). Still, what you say, practically speaking, about the power of bishops to impose their personal preferences on their priests is realistic.

TJM said...


As usual, you are correct. The CDW specifically rule on the issue, however, an evil bishop has lots of ways to harm faithful priests who challenge his magnificence on the issue

Rood Screen said...

Father Kavanaugh makes a good point, which depends upon an important distinction. A bishop is a legislator for his diocese, and as such, may promulgate directives with the force of law. But more than that, a diocesan bishop is a pastor, and as such, his clergy should naturally follow his pastoral lead, even in matters not defined as law. Therefore, a good Catholic priest will naturally desire to follow the pastoral directives of his bishop, even when there is no canonical obligation to do so.

All of this suffers, however, under the present strain of pastoral contradiction afflicting the Church.

TJM said...


A bishop cannot over-ride the rubrics in his diocese. He is supposed to be a servant of the Liturgy, not its master.

rcg said...

Here is what I have been able to get from this thread: Bishop Hartmayer was referrenced, not quoted, by Fr Winchel as not "wanting" the prieists in his diocese to offer Mass ad orientem. Fr Kavanaugh interprets this, in his usual passive aggressive style as being ambivalent and not proscriptive. This seems correct if for no other reason than one of the most "famous" preists in the diocese is famed mainly for his incorporation of ad orientem into his NO.

To complete this analysis we need to know if Fr McDonald has continued to offer an ad orientem Mass at his new parish? Or was the transfer a way to indirectly suppress it? I think he still does.

Perhaps Fr Winchel was having a Hugh de Morville moment and interpreted the statement as a call to action. There is more to consider here, but based on what we see there is not much cause to accuse Bishop Hartmayer of suppressing ad orientem.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG, no I do not celebrate the OF Mass here in my new parish ad orietem. Nor is there an EF Mass here and as far as I can tell, there isn't any interest here for it as no one has approached me about it desiring it.

But, keep in mind, 20 miles north of here in Savannah at our Cathedral the EF Mass is celebrated as a High Mass each Sunday at 1 PM and I fill in for the priest who normally celebrates it when he is away. He happens to be the bishop's Vicar General.

I had been in Macon for 12 years and felt that I needed a change, so my change had nothing to do with my liturgical style or leadership there, which is very middle of the road and I might say very pastoral.

I began the OF ad orientem Mass in Macon about five years ago as many people like the ad orientem aspect of the EF Mass, but prefer the OF's vernacular, easier participation and style of chant. At that time our EF Mass was once a month at 2 pm.

I only had one complaint about the 12:10 Mass going ad orientem (and I might add it was only for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Everything else from the chair or ambo. In effect it was exactly like all our other Sunday Masses, music, liturgical ministers (male and female) et al.

After 3 years of this, I decried it was time to move our 2 PM EF Mass to the 12:10 PM Mass once a month (First Sunday of the month). No one complained! And there was continuity between the two Masses. In fact I think most people didn't realize the differences in the OF and EF except the EF was entirely in Latin.

Keep in mind too that at St. Joseph there are five Sunday Masses (four on Sunday, one vigil on Saturday). So in this context having an ad orietem option for those who prefer it made perfect sense as there are so many other options for those who prefer Mass facing the congregation.

So I am somewhat bewildered by the suppression of it and find it peculiar to say the least. We have so many options, legal options in the OF Mass. Why focus suppress ad orientem, but allow all the silly illicit things to go unchallenged? Makes no sense to me.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

I assume you will introduce ad orientem at the parish after proper catechesis. The Bishop has ZERO authority to suppress ad orientem. It's sounds like he's a bit of a bully who needs to have his wings clipped

Vernon Knight said...

I hate to get into this debate, but I will. From what I see in the GIRM. #299. The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is "desirable" wherever possible. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. It says there "Desirable" ≠ mandatory. During the Mass, particularly in the consecration, being a Priest of the Diocese I am acting in the person of Christ Himself. During the Mass is to focus on Christ in the Eucharist whether it be Ad Orientam or Versus Populum? Every body is watching and praying during the Mass to see the manner in which it is being treated, handled with reverence, and the manner in which the Priest, Deacons, and altar servers interact and perform their responsibilities during the Liturgy. All this greatly helps and understand the belief we celebrate which is the real presence of Christ in the Body and Blood. I like both Ad Orientam or Versus Populum and we still have the EF Mass here at St. Joseph every Tuesday at 5pm and High Latin Mass on Last Sunday of the Month. Even though the there is not Ad Orientam at the 12:10pm Mass, we do use the communion railing. I very much love how the OF and the EF can even compliments each other. They are different in style and language, both have the same purpose. We truly become a community through Christ's body and blood (the Eucharist). If the priest leads our prayers towards God. Does it matter if facing or not facing? I know there is going to be disagreements on this subject. But to me personally the Mass is not a "show," but the source and summit of our faith and that's what matters. I am done giving my view.

rcg said...

Vernon Knight, good post and questions. The only one I will answer is "does it make a difference ad orientem or versus populum.
?" It clearly does so the question should be *what* difference does it make? Our host has many, many posts addressing the respective virtues and differences. Perhaps he can give us an idea as to where his mind is today on that subject.

Anonymous said...

"The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is ‘desirable' wherever possible."

This is essentially the long since discredited English translation of the original Latin GIRM #299 whose incorrectness has been explained repeatedly almost ad nauseum by sources such as Fr. Zuhlsdorf. In short, the genders of the pertinent Latin words determine that the "which is desirable wherever possible" clause modifies the "built apart from the wall" clause, rather than the "Mass can be celebrated facing the people clause".

This lesson in Latin grammar was spelled out by the CDW (over a decade ago) in response to a dubia questioning the precise meaning of #299. The CDW mentioned that it was the Vatican dicastery responsible for the GIRM, and therefore the competent authority to specify its meaning (not the English translators or the bishops approving the English translation). The repetition of the incorrect English translation--that results from maintaining the original order of the Latin clauses which in English changes the meaning, whereas in Latin the meaning is determined by gender correspondences rather than word order--would therefore appear to betray a deliberate intent to mislead by implying incorrectly that versus populum celebration is more desirable than ad orientem.

TJM said...


Spot on but do you expect liberals to be intellectually honest? It's the agenda that matters, not the truth.

Anonymous said...

Golly...a lot of discontent on this blog. Is there ever any positive news?

I agree with what Father M says---the bishop is the chief liturgist, chief pastor of a diocese. So we follow him even if our tastes are different than his--otherwise we become our own popes. I don't know for the life of me why anyone would ban Saturday night Mass, as in the ancient Jewish custom---and this is still followed by the Eastern Orthodox---the ecclesiastical day runs from sundown to sundown. At this time of year in Atlanta, that means about 530pm Saturday to 530 pm Sunday. But instead we follow the secular schedule of midnight to midnight.

I haven't seen much demand for ad orientum up here in Atlanta, but I don't see why it should be banned. Heck, there is even more flexibility in the Episcopal Church on that, as I have seen parishes with the altar at the front and the altar at the back; I guess in such cases the bishop gives discretion on that to the vestry.

Joseph Johnson said...

I suppose if one feels strongly about the merits of ad orientem and his local bishop does not prefer it then, to avoid "becoming our own pope," one should just move to another diocese with a like-minded bishop (like Lincoln).

I'm sorry, I just can't accept the idea that, for the sake of unity, we should just bottle up how we feel about such things or move to where we can find a bishop who shares the same opinion on this matter. All souls are equal before God and if it's good for people in the diocese of Lincoln then it's good for Catholics anywhere else in the world, including the smallest parishes in the most rural areas of the diocese of Savannah, Georgia! We shouldn't be geographic prisoners of the whims of our local bishop. There are some things that even a bishop should not be able to suppress---ad orientem is one of them!