Sunday, October 31, 2010

T. on L.'s article (thanks to Z). Sounds like a James Bond plot.

Father Z's blog turned me on an essay written by Fr. Dwight Longenecker (whose blog I don't read as often as I should) on the topic of celebrating Mass ad orientem (here's the test: "ad orientem" to the optimist means, "the Priest, together with the community, facing God together". To the pessimist, "ad orientem" means, "the Priest turning his back on the people in a malicious return to the evil, wicked, Pre-Vatican II days").

The last two paragraphs jumped out at me, personally, because I've seen it in myself and in others.

"...when everyone has to look at the priest all the time I am not surprised that so many of our church liturgies have become entertainment oriented and the priest is burdened to be the main entertainer. Why do so many Catholic parishes now take on the personality of their priest? Maybe because the priests are too much the center of attention. Why do so many priests seem to revel in all this attention? Maybe because every time they go to the altar they are the center attraction. Maybe this has also contributed to the narcissism and showy-ness of so many of our priests.

When I pray the Mass in the same direction of the people it is amazing how I don't have to worry about myself and what I look like and whether I'm putting enough 'feeling' into the words. Instead I merge into the people behind me who are praying with me. I feel caught up in a wave of their prayers as their prayers and mine are offered to the Lord who is up and beyond both of us. I feel no alienation at all in 'turning my back to them.' On the contrary, I feel closer to them and more one with them as we all pray in the same direction. I am no longer 'up there' with them all looking at me. Instead I am with them and one with them as together we turn toward the Lord."


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

That's interesting and it makes a lot of sense. I have never attended a Mass celebrated ad orientam (born in 1965, I just missed all that). I think that if people who are upset that "the priest has his back to the people" read this statement, they might change their tune.

MJ said...

Those 2 paragraphs made a lot of sense to me too. I am pre Vatican II and as a child didn't understand the Mass in Latin even though I attended a Catholic school. We attended Mass every morning before school and we were taught about the Mass but I guess I never really appreciated it. Even as an adult I can't say I am a "fan" but those paragraphs give me a whole new perspective. Thanks for sharing.

Fr. Selvester said...

I say Mass ad orientem every day whether I'm celebrating in the Ordinary Form or the Extraordinary Form. We don't have a free-standing altar at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Raritan (our DIOCESAN Eucharistic Shrine chapel). People do need some reminding that the priest facing the altar does not go part and parcel together with Mass in Latin. It is a perfectly legitimate option even for the Ordinary Form of Mass in English.