by Fr Richard Heilman | January 6, 2018 11:49 AM
Today is a very meaningful 5 year anniversary for me, and for my flock.
I wrote this, five years ago today (The photo is that Mass on January 6, 2013. We have since added a Communion rail) …
St. Mary Of Pine Bluff Has Officially Made The Move. East.
After a year of celebrating daily Masses ad orientem, we wondered when we might take the next step to celebrate all of our Masses this way – including weekend Masses. Then came the December 6, 2012 homily by our own Bishop Robert Morlino. In his homily, our bishop was actually encouraging ad orientem worship. That was all the encouragement we needed.
And so, it’s official … St. Mary of Pine Bluff became a parish that celebrates the Novus Ordo ad orientem at all of their Masses.
I made the decision to use the great feast of Epiphany, in which we see the Magi journeying toward the star they saw at it’s rising (in the East).
And then, one year later, I posted a copy of this letter I wrote to a priest (February 22, 2014). I wrote it because I don’t believe we priests should be frightened anymore. I agree with a recent post that said, while we take our time, souls are being lost. We all know, in our bones, that God wants this … let’s simply obey and allow God to bless our obedience!!!
I wanted to write to update you on the amazing things God is doing here …
A year is up and the results are in.
It’s been a little over one year since we removed the freestanding altar and committed to ad orientem worship for all of our Masses. Without a doubt, it was a leap of faith, as I simply trusted God would provide.
The initial response from some of the old guard was a bit nerve-racking. In fact, a handful of them decided to no longer attend here, as they dispersed to local parishes.
Beyond that, I don’t even know if I can begin to share all of the fruits of this move.
First, the spiritual benefits are palpable. Our parish has a sense that we are truly worshiping, and it simply feels so right. This is visibly seen in such things as the altar boys who are more reverent and precise. People are coming early to pray the rosary, and many are staying afterwards to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Everyone is offering the “proper” gestures (bowing, etc.) at the appropriate times. Virtually everyone began, mostly in just the past year, really dressing up for Mass. It seems every Sunday another woman has decided to veil – AT A NOVUS ORDO! And, we just had over 300 people go through the 33 Days of Preparation for Consecration to Jesus Through Mary!!!
Our choir has doubled in size over the past year, and they are chanting and singing polyphony so beautifully that I am thinking they should make a CD. Even our men’s schola went from 7 members to nearly 20 in just this past year. And, these men have become quite a “band of brothers” as they also gather once a month in my man cave for what we call, “Pipes and Pints” … Most of them enjoy a nice pipe and brew as we discuss church related issues and try to solve all of the problems of the world. Virtually all of these men are young professionals.
I haven’t looked at any statistics, but it seems that, over just this one year, the average age of our parishioners went from 65 to 35, as so many young families are discovering us and joining the parish. It is so wonderful to hear the squeaks and squawks of little ones throughout the Mass!!! My secretary commented that it seems a new young family appears here every week.
Last year, our finance council was recommending that we begin a special giving campaign, as we were feeling the effects of the economic downturn of the past five years. I asked them to give it one more year, as we see the effects of ad orientem worship. They reluctantly agreed. A year later, we just had a finance council meeting and – get this! – Contributions are up 30% IN ONE YEAR!!!
I can’t say this is what will happen in every parish that decides to take the risk and move in this direction, but I wanted to be, at least, one more story of a parish that put their trust in God, and witnessed how God blessed this move to offer greater reverence in the Mass, especially by celebrating ad orientem.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam!!
Two years later, we added a Traditional Latin Mass on Sunday. Many of those young families who discovered the “sense of the sacred” in the Novus Ordo ad orientem, have now transitioned to the Traditional Latin Mass.
It’s an amazing phenomenon going on here. More families (mostly young) pour in to fill the pews of those who have transitioned to the Traditional Latin Mass.
Having the opportunity to experience it, first hand, I firmly believe this is “the way” to free our people from the grasp of modern banality in the liturgy … help them experience “truly reverent worship” – ad orientem is KEY – then this will open them to the “epiphany” they receive: “Oh, this is why our ancestors worshipped this way!”
This was all purely an act of faith, on my part. I trusted this was the will of God, and blessings upon blessings have flowed from making this decision. Trust in God! Go Ad Orientem!
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