Thursday, October 19, 2017


The  National Catholic Register has a story on a parish that has gone Ad Orientem. You can read it there.
Above, Bishop James Conley celebrates Advent Mass for the diocesan staff at the John XXIII Pastoral Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Below, Mass being said <i>ad orientem</i> at Star of the Sea and Holy Rosary parishes.
Above, Bishop James Conley celebrates Advent Mass for the diocesan staff at the John XXIII Pastoral Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Below, Mass being said ad orientem at Star of the Sea and Holy Rosary parishes. (2015 photo, Southern Nebraska Catholic via Bishop James Conley Twitter; others courtesy of the parishes)
NATION   |  OCT. 17, 2017
Ad Orientem Posture Given New Life in Nebraska
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has provided the latest inspiration for its use in the ordinary form of the Mass.

My comments: When altars were turned around almost overnight around the world beginning in early 1966 (just add another 6), the point was to make the Mass more intelligible to the dumb laity who didn't know what was going on. It was another case of academic liturgists looking down their academic noses to the peons who knew nothing and had to be informed.  

But the turning around of altars wasn't enough, the entire interior of magnificent old churches had to be reoriented too so that the laity could gather around the altar as if concelebrants. In fact, many academic theologians insisted that the laity have a more active part in the Eucharistic Prayer. Some priests invited the laity to say the prayers with him all or in part. The Doxology is a classic example. 

But what is there to see when the priest faces the congregation? Nothing but the priest's facial expression, arm gestures and eye contact or lack thereof. You might see the epeclesis and the single Sign of the Cross over the bread and wine prior to the consecration. You'll miss the reduced number of genuflections, now only three, because most of the genuflection is behind the altar and thus obscured. 

Symbolically, what was gained in turning altars around and reorienting entire older churches and new ones to be built? NOTHING except the loss of Catholic reverence and awe!

Symbolically what was lost? That all liturgical prayer is directed to God, through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Facing the people this symbol is diminished and weakened so much so that most congregants believe the prayers of Mass, as though these are greetings, Scripture readings and homily, are directed to them as is the  central part of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Consecration, especially when the priest uses the bread and chalice and gestures with them in a wide sweep over the altar to the congregation. 

Facing the people is the cause for so much of the loss of symbol and sign when it comes to the direction of prayer.

Facing the people moves the priest to a confrontational and superior position to the congregation as though he is a professor, an academic, teaching the poor dumb souls before him. 

Ad Orientem places the priest in the same direction as his congregation, poor souls all in need of salvation and the  gifts of sanctifying Grace the Holy Mass offers.  

Ad Orientem isn't about clericalism or fostering it.

Facing the people fosters clericalism in the priest because of his "superior" not humble position before the laity. 


TJM said...

This young priest should be commended, doing what so many of his elder priests (and loser bishops) refuse to do. Deo gratias. I almost walked out of a friend's funeral Mass this week because we were stuck with a Jolly Ollie Priest for whom the Liturgy was all about him. It was disgusting to behold. If he were saying Mass ad orientem, his lunacy would have been checked because who was he going to entertain, the Crucifix?

Anonymous said...

(1) what bishops back then pushed the change in the position of the altar, whether here in US or in the Vatican?
(2) in the early days of the Church---before we had churches (buildings), was Mass every celebrated facing the people---like in homes?
(3) am I correct in the Latin Mass, there was an Epistle and Gospel reading, but no Old Testament reading? And why was the "Last Gospel" dropped?
(4) could you celebrate Mass in your current main sanctuary facing away from the people, without prior permission from the bishop?

Mark Thomas said...

From the National Catholic Register article:

"Father Faulkner was not always a supporter of the ad orientem posture. He “intensely” resisted the idea of Mass ad orientem during his time in seminary, and only gradually came to accept the arguments for it."

Why would a Catholic resist "intensely" an ancient liturgical tradition that the Church maintains and promotes as an important practice that is rich in spiritual benefits for the Holy People of God? Ad orientem worship is part of Father Faulkner's spiritual heritage.

In 1996 A.D., Rome issued the following in regard to the importance of ad orientem prayer and worship:

Confer: #107. "Prayer facing the east."

The Apostolic See declared that ad orientem prayer and worship is "of profound value and should be safeguarded."


Mark Thomas

TJM said...

ask yourself why bishops and cardinals are resisting it and in some cases forbidding it? Because they are left-wing loons who have no love of the liturgical tradition.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous @ 1:20 PM

In answer to your questions:

(1) All of them. They were told to do so, and Paul VI modelled it on Lent I 1965, using a common table erected outside the sanctuary.
(2) We have no evidence. But in classical times everyone was at the same side of the table at mealtimes.
(3) The Roman Rite traditionally has two readings. But on the ferias of Lent the first reading is taken from the OT and is usually far more lengthy than anything in the NO Lectionary. On Ember days several OT reading are used.
(4) Yes.

Gene said...

What is there to see with Mass facing the people...scruffy looking jeans, cut-offs, tie-dyed t-shirts, booty shorts on women, skirts so short that the moths have to settle for eating flesh, cleavage (lots), couples making out (not kidding), men with their hands on women's butts, women with their hands on mens butts, people talking on cell phones, people stroking and poking I Phones, kids playing games on their phones, people chewing gum, people drinking from personalized water bottles, people reading novels, people engaged in spirited conversations (especially during the homily), kids roaming the aisles, kids crawling under pews, fashion disasters of numerous kinds, and people sleeping. "The Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him...."

TJM said...


and to think "progressives" were upset by little old ladies saying the rosary at Mass in the old days!!!

ByzRC said...

Really, aside from the elevations and in light of the elimination of the multiple signs of the cross, there isn't much to see. While I don't care for the "showing" of the elements with a 180 degree sweep done by some priests before the words of institution, I appreciate that many are attempting to make it meaningful by their interpretation of the word. This posture fails, even with the addition of the Benedictine Arrangement as the distinction between addressing the people and addressing our Lord becomes muddled (drive the bus vs. face the passengers on the bus). But, this is the Roman reality except for small pockets here and there where tradition is maintained.

Henry said...

Gene: "What is there to see with Mass facing the people..."

I didn't realize you worshiped with unwashed heathen like those you describe. You should try worshiping with real Catholics sometime.

Gene said...

Henry, these are scenes from St. Joseph's in Macon.