Vatican Liturgy Chief Urges All Priests to Celebrate Mass Ad Orientem

by Fr Richard Heilman | May 27, 2016 9:30 AM

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship, Robert Cardinal Sarah, has called for a worldwide return to ad orientem worship (read about the interview HERE[1]).

The Vatican’s liturgy chief has called on priests to celebrate Mass facing east.

 

In an interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Robert Sarah said that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass facing the people.

 

This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was “a possibility, but not an obligation”.

 

Readers and listeners should face each other during the Liturgy of the Word, he said.

 

“But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.”

This marks the second time Cardinal Sarah has stressed this necessity, since the release of his powerful document on June 12, 2015 (HERE[2]).

Here is the portion of the original document that specifically calls for Ad Orientem worship to return once again …

“Contrary to what has sometimes been maintained, it is in full conformity with the conciliar Constitution—indeed, it is entirely fitting—for everyone, priest and congregation, to turn together to the East during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations, and the Eucharistic prayer, in order to express the desire to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ.

Many have longed for the day our Catholic Church would return to this more Christ-centered focus, and here it is. Of course, many still may need to wait a bit longer as there remain those who have embraced the notion that the Catholic Church must be severed from its past (modernism) and look more like our Protestant brothers and sisters when we worship (indifferentism). Those who have embraced these notions will not likely accept this universal call without pushing back.

Personally, after a few years of offering the Novus Ordo Ad Orientem, I can attest that it has made all the difference in the world! I wrote about the “Fruits of Ad Orientem Worship” HERE[3]. Those who attend cannot stop speaking positively about how it has completely shifted their understanding of the Most Holy Eucharist. All speak of a deepening of their faith in our Eucharistic Lord.

In one way or another, each speaks of these ten advantages of Ad Orientem worship[4]:

1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.

2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.

3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.

4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.

5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.

6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.

7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.

8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.

9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.

10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention, and devotion.

So much talk, these days, goes to “How do we help our people become more devoted (intentional?).” If this “devotion” is not reflected in our worship – in the way we approach the Source and Summit of our faith – then all of our evangelization efforts fall flat, or they lose steam very quickly. Total devotion begins with reverent, God-focused worship! Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi (As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live).

See my article on a sacred/supernatural encounter as a “necessary entryway into the Divine Life” HERE[5].

Here’s Hollywood’s very nice attempt to reveal what happens to the human heart (see at the 3:05 mark) when it lays itself open to the awe and wonder and majesty of God revealed so readily in worship done with great reverence:

Endnotes:
  1. HERE: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/05/26/vatican-liturgy-chief-urges-priests-to-celebrate-mass-facing-east/
  2. HERE: http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2015/aug/12/cardinal-robert-sarah-liturgical-english/
  3. HERE: https://www.romancatholicman.com/the-fruits-of-ad-orientem-worship-a-letter-to-a-priest-friend/
  4. ten advantages of Ad Orientem worship: http://www.stpeterslist.com/12223/facing-god-6-memes-on-celebrating-the-mass-ad-orientem/
  5. HERE: https://www.romancatholicman.com/the-day-i-discovered-the-greatest-and-deepest-truth/

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