Let’s Tell Our Priests that We Want Ad Orientem!
With all public Masses in the United States being cancelled, and many being offered online, it is a perfect opportunity to create a groundswell of activity to push for Mass to be offered Ad Orientem!
Your priest is definitely looking at his social media right now and checking to see how many people are watching the Mass online.
This is a great time to politely request that he, as Fr. Z says, turn towards the Lord again!
As it stands right now, in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, most are offered versus populum, which means “towards the people”.
But with no one at Mass, it now makes even less sense for the priest not to orient the worship of God towards God.
To keep it very simple, after Vatican II, many people in positions of authority wanted to make the Mass more like a communal supper, based on the Last Supper, when Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist.
This component is truly important and should not be downplayed, but it is also very important to remember that the Mass is about the crucifixion when our Blessed Lord gave himself as the spotless victim to free us from our sins. The crucifixion is what Christ has, “given up for you” He gave us Himself.
All things in the Mass point to Calvary. This is illustrated beautifully in Fulton Sheen’s Book, Calvary and the Mass, which can be read here for free
Therefore, all of us, including the priest should face the Lord, in worship together.
There are many arguments out there from those who are afraid of the old traditions of the Church. Some of these arguments even come from priests themselves. Here are a few common arguments and how to answer them:
- I can’t believe the priest would turn his back on us!
- This is a misunderstanding of what is going on. The priest facing the same directions as everyone else is a sign of his authority to lead everyone in worship and a humble act helping everyone not to focus on the priest but on Christ. We are all praying together when we all face the same direction, towards God.
- The priest is just making the Mass all about Him and God, What about us?
- A major problem that has crept into the Church since the changes took place is that Catholics are now more likely to church hop. Many times, the reasons are because they like this or that priest. But things did not used to be this way. The priest and his personality during the mass should matter very little. When the priest faces God, with the rest of us, it removes him from the worship, except to lead us in prayer and offer the bloodless sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When he faces God, the priest does not have to feel compelled to put on a show. Ask your priest how well he enters into prayer when over 100 people are starting at him as he looks in their direction while trying not to make eye contact. Could you pray well that way? When the priest faces the people, it orients everyone to face the priest. But we should all face God. If the priest faces God, then the Mass really is not about the priest at all. It is about Christ and only Christ.
So now that you have some answers to the two most common objections, I would like to suggest the following:
- Email your priest and first thank and compliment him. Then politely request that he offer Mass Ad Orientem.
- Post on your Parish Facebook Page. Thank your priest and politely ask him to offer Mass Ad Orientem.
- Link to other parishes where Mass is being offered Ad Orientem on your parish website and politely mention that you like when Mass is offered Ad Orientem. This will help more people find out about this beautiful tradition. (This could be obnoxious so be creative to not come off as a jerk!)
- Contact your diocese and politely ask for Mass to be offered Ad Orientem.
- After every daily Mass on Facebook Live or on Parish Websites, remember to politely request an Ad Orientem Mass.
- Tell your friends to do the same!
Let’s start a movement towards moving the Mass to be even more reverent and Christ centered!
When things get back to normal, ask if your priest if he can offer one Mass Ad Orientem. You have to start somewhere.
An excellent article to explain Ad Orientem further can be found here!