Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Mass Ad Orientem

I'm not an expert on liturgy and don't have the resources to explain my positions in-depth, so I have typically refrained from entering those waters. But, I will today as Father Zuhlsdorf picked up the text of a sermon by the Bishop of Madison, the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, on worshiping while facing liturgical east. The text sans commentary and the audio version along with some cool pictures of a Mass said ad orientem in the Ordinary Form, are found HERE. (By the way, this blogger is a senior in high school, and is also looking at Steubenville. I see a trend.)

Father Z's comments are worth reading HERE.

I love that St Martin's has started to use the so-called Benedictine arrangement where the crucifix and candles are placed on the altar in front of the celebrant, which is a transitional step towards ad orientem worship. Pope Benedict uses this on a semi-regular basis, at least when he is saying Mass in the papal basilicas of Rome, and promoted it in The Spirit of the Liturgy. But, it is only an intermediate step towards the priest saying Mass ad orientem. By the way, the priest will rarely face cardinal east on a map; liturgical east is the the back* of the church, or the apse. That's why Cardinal Ratzinger used the term ad apsidem as well. Unfortunately, many churches don't even have a proper apse...gah. Liturgical architecture is another subject for another day.

That looks so busy.

I think everything looks organized here, even with the chaplains and the papal masters of ceremony, because he's not center-stage...

In this picture, you can actually tell it's a Mass that is said with the revised rubrics. I would love for Mass at St Martin's to be indistinguishable from a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the sense that someone arriving during the Canon would have to know there are fewer genuflections and Signs of the Cross, and that the prayers are different and said vocally. But, the priest would wear a biretta, the priest's chasuble would be lifted and we would move about in much the same way, to the extent allowed by the rubrics. Yeah, I'm talking about genuflecting to the tabernacle, and facing the apse as much as possible during the liturgy of the Word and bowing towards Father during the Confiteor, and reading the readings on the Epistle and Gospel sides and placing the servers in the same positions as much as possible. Hmm what else? I suppose we could even say the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar in the sacristy, followed by our customary "V/In procedamus in pace. R/In nomine Christe. Amen." (WAIT!!! Isn't how they became a part of the Mass in the first place??) Now, you can argue that I'm only about the externals. Pfft. That's for Anglo-Catholics whose theology is the same as the modernists leaders of the Anglican Communion. No, the externals reveal our interior attitude towards God and the sacrifice of the Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger explains this in The Spirit of the Liturgy. Gestures help us to articulate the faith and what is going on in the Mass. Also, you could be Byzantine Catholic, where they prostrate. A lot. That gives Catholic calisthenics an entire new dimension.

I'm sorry for the run-on sentences. It's poor grammar. But, I get worked up about the liturgy sometimes.

Also over at 'From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary' is a form for a spiritual bouquet for Bishop Morlino, who has recently been the victim of smear campaigns in the local media for leading his flock well (to my eyes, not to theirs!). He needs our prayers so he can continue to do God's work with a good disposition, as demonstrated by his posts yesterday on social media sites.

*Call me a modernist for that one. I never though that the apse is actually the front, and the vestibule the back...


  1. You're right! I've never noticed how much neater ad orientem looks when there's many concelebrants. But it's true. It simply looks cleaner.

  2. My problem is now arranging the sanctuary so that all the servers (we might have 10-20 on a given Sunday) can fit, without being in the way of the altar rail or the sacristy door. It'll be a challenge. It would be worthwhile to see if it's possible so that we might be able to switch in the future.
    Also, I think that if we went to male lectors who were instituted by the bishop, Mass ad orientem takes on a whole new dimension.