Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ad Orientem, Facing East, Mass Facing the Lord.

Ad orientem 

Catholics know what that means.

Cardinal Burke recently celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse ad orientem.  I like that.  He celebrated the Ordinary Form that way.  I like that.  Facing the Lord is a term, sometimes understood as facing the tabernacle, facing East from whence comes the Lord at the End Times - so it's Biblical, since in the Canticle of Zechariah the Church prays, "In the tender compassion of God, the Orient from on high shall break upon us", and so on.

For Catholics, it's the natural way of prayer - the super-natural way: the priest officiates, offers Mass, to the Lord - so he directs our prayer - he leads our prayer, therefore we are focused upon God.  With the priest, we face towards the Lord.  I'm not using liturgically correct language here, but for me this way of assisting or hearing Mass, is the highest form of active participation in the liturgical rite - be it Extraordinary Form or Ordinary Form.  There is no better way to enter into the Mystery, deeply recollected and mindful of what is going on.

There are parishes in this archdiocese that celebrate Mass this way.

I love the way Cardinal Burke acts in this case, he simply celebrates Mass ad orientem.  No fanfare, no contest.  It seems to me this can be done quietly and devoutly, without calling attention to oneself.

Mass facing the congregation or in the middle of a community can also be devout and recollected, but a prayerful disposition is more conducive and facilitated by the celebration of Mass ad orientem.

It has nothing to do with clericalism or rigidity.


  1. Of course, the tabernacle on the altar was an "innovation" of the Council of Trent. Before that, it was on the side of the sanctuary, in the sacristy, or did not exist. So to link the Mass "ad orientem" with the tabernacle refers only to the last 450 years of Church history.

    1. Really? I didn't know that. Thanks.

  2. Now they know you are one of "them"


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