Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


News re: Ad Orientem practice

September 9th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Don’t miss LifeSiteNews today:  Second USA bishop to adopt ‘ad orientem’ ….

Here are some excerpts to whet the appetite!

MADISON, Wis., September 7, 2016 … “Bishop Robert Morlino told parishioners at St. Patrick Church during his homily on Sunday that he would begin in October to offer Novus Ordo Masses facing the altar when he is town….”

Bishop Morlino

Bishop Morlino

“The local ordinary is one of the first bishops in the Church to respond after a call by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect for the Congregation for the Divine Worship in Rome, for Masses celebrated in the ancient tradition of facing toward God …. That form of worship had been the “common orientation” in Catholic liturgy for more than 1,500 years until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, when many priests took it upon themselves to turn around to face the people.”

“The bishop’s announcement at the Cathedral Parish was well received by the congregation there (his intended audience),” diocesan spokesman Brent King told LifeSiteNews …. we have received numerous notes of encouragement both from within and outside the diocese.”

“Bishop Morlino interjected humor into his homily … saying he knew the parishioners in attendance would be supportive, but ‘I say this a few other places I’ll  have to take both my hats off and duck’ referring to other churches in his own diocese…. But that will not stop him from encouraging the priests of his diocese to consider an ad orientem posture….”

“Bishop Morlino already requires seminarians in formation in his diocese to learn to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  In January, he ordered all of the diocese’s parishes to put the tabernacle back in the center of the Church, affecting nearly half of the parishes that had moved it to a side altar or separate room.”

“Please lead your priests and people towards the Lord in this way,” Cardinal Sarah asked. “Please form your seminarians in the reality that we are not called to the priesthood to be at the center of liturgical worship ourselves but to lead Christ’s faithful to him as fellow worshippers.  Please facilitate this simple but profound reform in your dioceses, your cathedrals, your parishes and your seminaries.”

“Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal (Raymond) Burke for years, and Pope Benedict XVI have made the point over and over again that according to God’s mind that His plan is that at the end of history He will come from the East like the rising sun, as we see in the Magnificat, as we see in the Psalms, as we see in the scriptures,” Bishop Morlino said in his homily. “… when the priest stands together with the congregation, not with his back toward them, that’s not the point. The point is that the priest stands together with the congregation and he faces symbolically at least the East. We become a mighty army marching toward the place of the rising sun to meet the Lord lead by the priest.  That’s who we really are.”

A Personal Reflection

Only in the last few months have I had the opportunity to attend an ‘ad orientem’ Novus Ordo Mass. I went more because I was curious than an advocate.  I already attend the EF Mass every Sunday (the Latin Mass Community at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit NY), which I greatly love, especially the awareness of immersing in what has been so many centuries of practice in Catholicism.  I expected the Novus Ordo ad Orientem to be like a halfway point between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, but was very surprised by what I experienced.

There is nothing “halfway” about the ad orientem Novus Ordo Mass. Rather, there is a sense of the priest standing before God on our behalf, like a highly respected military officer leading the troops forward, ready to take the first blow if lightning should strike.  He leads the way and we follow — in contrition, praise, sacrifice, thanksgiving.  There is a sense of being ever more respectful of the degrees of God’s privacy in the Mass (think about that one!) And there is an unexpected sense of community, all together, not as individuals watching, listening, reacting. I know — it can’t be explained; it has to be experienced.  I hope we’ll have many more opportunities for such experience.

Finally, I was surprised at first that Pope Francis seemed to step away from Cardinal Sarah’s worldwide invitation to the ad orientem Novus Ordo, and even a disclaimer of changes expected in Advent.  But I am seeing a heroism in Cardinal Sarah’s exhortation which will free those priests and bishops who just needed a little extra nudge.  The Holy Spirit continues to do His Work!!!

And for the naysayers who try to pit Pope Francis against Cardinal Sarah (and against Pope Benedict by implication) I offer the following picture of Pope Francis celebrating Mass ad orientem earlier this year:



12 Responses to “News re: Ad Orientem practice”

  1. avatar Dan Riley says:

    When will Bishop Salvatore Matano order all of the Tabernacles back to the center of each parish in the Diocese of Rochester?

    God Bless Bishop Robert Morlino.

    What happened to that great web site called “Tabernacles of Rochester”? They posted beautiful pictures of the Tabernacles in many parishes.

  2. avatar annonymouse says:

    Dan, I don’t think Bishop Matano has the power to make such an order. The U.S. Conference is so empowered by Sacrosanctum Concilium, but even then the General Instruction of the Roman Missal prescribes that “It is highly recommended that the Holy Eucharist be reserved in a chapel suitable for private adoration and prayer. If this is impossible because of the structure of the church or local custom, it should be kept on an altar or some other place in the church that is prominent and properly decorated.”(276). Personal preferences aside, that’s the official Church teaching on the subject.

    As to “ad orientem,” I recently experienced an ad orientem Mass in another diocese, and, like Diane, was surprised by the beauty and power and reverence of that Mass. I came home hoping all our parishes would consider offering ad orientem liturgies.

    That said, the quoted article is simply wrong to assert that versus populum liturgies are a product of many priests “taking it upon themselves” to face the people. Versus populum was, and continues to be, highly encouraged by the Church (although by no means mandated).

  3. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “Rather, there is a sense of the priest standing before God on our behalf, like a highly respected military officer leading the troops forward, ready to take the first blow if lightning should strike. He leads the way and we follow — in contrition, praise, sacrifice, thanksgiving.”

    Ah! how Jesus and his mother, Mary, as well as the rest of the saints in heaven must love the idea of an army marching into the celestial banquet!!! And having a [deletion made by Admin for sake of charity] priest leading them!! I am sure the Supreme General (aka God) will love it.

    PS;I can even see the angels scanning them for unorthodox spiritual weapons.

  4. avatar Diane Harris says:

    The following is an excerpt from Cardinal Burke’s extensive remarks to The Catholic World Report on August 30, 2016:

    “Asked about Cardinal Sarah’s statements, Cardinal Burke flatly stated, “I agree with him completely, and I believe that many of the comments made afterwards are not well-informed and are not fair.” The fundamental point made by Cardinal Sarah about the position of the priest during Mass is that the priest is the head of the congregation; he is acting in persona Christi in offering worship to God—”and so all of us are facing the Lord”. Rather than the priest “turning his back to the people”, he is actually “leading us in worship” to help us lift our minds and hearts to God. He emphasized that nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “would demand or even suggest that Mass should suddenly be now celebrated with the priest facing the people”. This change, he said, is something that was “introduced afterwards and I think was part of the false liturgical reforms”. Echoing some of the points made by Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Burke pointed of that when the priest faces the people “there is a great temptation … to see him as some kind of a performer, and now instead of the priest together with the people relating to God, somehow it becomes an interaction between the priest and the people.” The priest becomes central, rather than Christ himself.

    “And so Cardinal Sarah”, said Cardinal Burke, “I couldn’t agree more with him,” adding, “I trust that with time people will recognize that the criticism which was lodged against him is completely unjustified.” He also called into question the sincerity of critics of Cardinal Sarah, noting that the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had made similar comments about the same topics in a 2015 article in L’Osservatore Romano.

    The rest of this interview can be found here:

  5. avatar raymondfrice says:

    It seems that some people are placing Cardinal Sarah in a position of being a liturgical authority. America Magazine has recently published articles that seem to question the Cardinal’s “infallibility” on liturgical matters.
    One of the issues was a statement made by the Cardinal that”priestly orders are null and void after a church is separated from Rome”. This is not an orthodox view and is in error.

    The second issue is the situation of facing the east at Mass’. America again quotes”The Vatican statement declared that “all this ( issue of facing the east, possibly this Advent) was expressly agreed during a recent audience given by the pope to the said Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.” That meeting took place last Saturday, July 9, as reported in the Press Office bulletin.

    The cardinal’s statements in London, made at the Sacra Liturgia conference on July 5, caused consternation and much confusion in many parts of the church across the world, and in the Vatican, too. They raised the fundamental question as to whether the cardinal was acting on his own accord or whether he had received authorization from higher levels in the Vatican for saying such things. Today’s Vatican communique makes clear that Francis never authorized any such statements and that these do not correspond to what is envisaged in the liturgical books approved by the pope.”

  6. avatar Diane Harris says:

    A picture of Pope Francis’ celebrating ad orientem has been added to the post. It would be amusing (if not so terribly sad) that there was nothing in Cardinal Sarah’s words implying that ad orientem would be a requirement, let alone a prohibition against the current orientation toward the people, yet it provoked such fear, concern, and even outrage. It is a measure of how one-sided the “political” reaction to deep traditional values has been allowed to become. But Cardinal Sarah’s recommendation of restoring something beautiful from the past was greeted with a de facto cry “to the barricades.” If dialogue can’t be modeled within the Church, how will her values be able to influence the world? (Especially re her traditional moral values).

  7. avatar raymondfrice says:

    What silly little issues we argue over when most of the world goes to bed hungry. I really think I need a further conversion experience to adjust my value system to what is more important, such as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and other things close to Jesus’s thinking as reflected in the gospels.

  8. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I agree. And so we are called to begin with the “Greatest Commandment:
    “And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, to test Him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets’”. Matthew 22:35-40.

  9. avatar annonymouse says:

    Raymond, just a nit to pick with you – it is simply not true that most of the world goes to bed hungry. According to the World Food Programme, about 1 in 9 globally have less than enough food to eat each day. Still too many, but (and this is one of the most grievously under-reported facts) economic development (i.e. capitalism) has led to a drastic reduction in the hunger and starvation rates around the globe over the last 50 years. Places like China and India, where starvation used to be rampant, are now enjoying rapidly developing economies where hundreds of millions are lifted out of poverty.

  10. avatar raymondfrice says:

    When will Bishop Salvatore Matano order all of the Tabernacles back to the center of each parish in the Diocese of Rochester?

    Hopefully not until Hell freezes over!

  11. avatar Diane Harris says:

    God bless Bp. Matano, who has restored so much and put up with so much. May the tabernacle return to its rightful spot with sufficient catechesis about what is the Greatest Commandment and what is clearly second (deutero) to it. Fortunately, with each return of the tabernacle to its rightful place, the laity has an enhanced opportunity to leave the protestant style churches and return to where the Eucharist is prominent and paramount.

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