I would love to tell you all about my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but we need to get started with our Masses, “Ad Orientem”. Many of you probably remember my past articles explaining it, and why we had it and why we should still have it. The last one was a while ago so I thought I would give you a brief summary of the most salient points.
- No where in the Documents of Vatican II is the idea of the Mass celebrated “Ad Populum”, the priest facing the people, even mentioned. Therefore, we can easily conclude that this was not an inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the good of the future of the Church.
- There is no history of the Mass being celebrated this way prior to 1970. Those who claimed this actually made a mistake and didn’t realize that the people in the ancient Basilicas also faced east and the priest actually did the consecration behind them.
- There are 47 other Rites (manners of performing the liturgy) and in none of them does the priest face the people. When we do this we set ourselves apart and in isolation from our fellow Catholics.
- Since the beginning of the “Missa ad Populum”, there has been a never ending series of grave liturgical abuses on a wide scale never seen before in the 2000 year history of the Church, which has led to an ever decreasing Mass attendance and seriously damaged the faith of many.
- The sacrifice of Jesus is no longer the focal point of the Mass, but the personality of the priest and his constant innovations (licit or many times illicit). Proof of this is how so many people get upset when one priest is transferred or they say, “I go to St. N Parish because Fr. N. is so funny and entertaining—I really like him.” So the Holy Mass is no longer about getting closer to Christ and receiving Sanctifying Grace, but rather about feeling comfortable and being entertained. There are even many contemporary Catholic churches built in “Auditorium Style” to facilitate the entertainment aspect.
- The first Easter morning when Peter and John went to the tomb of Jesus after Mary Magdalen reported it empty, the first thing they saw was the rising sun in the East and from that moment on the rising sun began to be linked to the Resurrection in the liturgy. Thus we generally go to Mass Sunday Morning, not Sunday Evening (some parishes offer Sunday Evening Masses in addition to morning ones due to pastoral necessities, but no parish may offer only evening Masses). Thus we have the name EASTer for our Celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection.
- We actually transcend the realm of time at the Mass and get a foretaste of eternity, thus we look to the East for the second coming of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 24,27) and we say in the Mass, “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again.” It only makes sense that we should all face East and say this together.
- When we face each other during Mass we form a closed circle of communication in the temporal sphere that blocks out the eternal and supernatural, and this then explains the mistaken over emphasis on the “community” during Mass and not on the Lord and his redeeming Sacrifice. Evidence of this is the great number of our contemporary hymns that focus on us and not the Lord, (e. gr. “Gather us in” et al.) Pope Emeritus wrote about this extensively in his book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy”.
- The priest facing the people actually reinforces bad clericalism, giving the priest the exalted status of “presider”. He unwittingly becomes the focus of the Mass and sadly many cannot resist the spotlight and feel the need to constantly innovate and reinvent the liturgy to satisfy their fans.
- When we all face the same direction—East—in our prayer, we become united in our action and focus as the one mystical body of Christ we are called to be, with the priest as the head of that body leading the action but all of the faithful like the other member of the body, make that action possible. Much more egalitarian and much less temptation or pressure on the priest to be a “star”.
- Bishop Morlino has asked us in his letter of July 15, 2017 to begin celebrating the Mass, “Ad Orientem”. Soon we will begin to celebrate the Masses at our Parish, “Ad Orientem”. Experience with this at my last parish has shown it to be very edifying as it brings forth the meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.