Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Out of the mouths of.....teens: Ad Orientem Celebrated Mass

There was a delightful post over at the blog of Fr. Dwight Longenecker in Greenville, South Carolina. He is on staff at St. Mary's where priests recently began celebrating ad orientem, the way the ordinary form or Novus Ordo is celebrated at Grotto. He is also a chaplain at St. Joseph's Catholic school, where Father recounts a recent dialogue (emphases mine in bold with the boy's quotes in red and Father's in blue)


High Schoolers Facing East

Six high school boys stayed after Thursday's daily Mass at St Joseph's Catholic School:

"Father, why didn't you celebrate Mass facing East today?"

"I'm doing so on two days of the week, and on the other two the usual way. Do you like the Mass when I celebrate facing East?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"It feels more holy. It's older right? But you're not really facing East here."

"There's something called 'liturgical East.' It's when the priest faces what used to be the East 'cause all the churches were built to face the rising sun, which was a symbol of the resurrection and also because Jesus would return to Jerusalem, which was in the East."

"Like Muslims facing Mecca."

"Sort of, but I'm not going to start wearing a turban"

"You could wear your biretta more often."

"Shall I?"

"I like Mass when you face East because it feels like you are offering the Mass for us more."

"I just like stuff that's more traditional."

"I think it feels more, well, manly. Do you know what I mean. Is that dumb?"

"That's interesting. No, I don't think it's dumb, but I have to think about why it might be true."

"I think it's good because I was thinking more about God and not you, and when you elevated the host it was like Jesus floating there. It was more mysterious. It was cool."

"Would you like me to continue saying Mass facing with you to the Lord?"

"Yes please."

"You don't feel slighted because I have turned my back to you? You sure I haven't hurt your feelings?"

Laughter all around. "You're not that good looking anyway Father."

"OK, why don't you all go to lunch now?"

When the one boy said that it felt like it was more about God than the priest when he faced liturgical east, it reminded me of my first experience. As I have so often recounted it: "I shifted in my pew as if to seek the face of the priest, only to realize a short time later, it is the face of God I should be seeking in the Mass".

Now comes a poem from Father's blog on the subject...

A Student’s Plea

No, no, Father, please don’t toss the mike
like a DJ when you preach. Please don’t be cool.
Please don’t ride a Harley motorbike
when you come to school.

Don’t wear red cowboy boots for Pentecost,
and tell dumb jokes to be our pal. Please don’t ‘high five’,
say, “Sweet!” “Awwsome!” “You suck!” “You’re toast!”
or teach us how to jive.

Don’t sing along to the latest pop band;
you don’t need to be hip and up to date,
or come to our parties with a drink in your hand,
trying to relate.

Play it straight. Say the black and do the red.
Refrain from politics and rainbow pins.
Pray for all of us, the living and the dead,
and listen to our sins.

We want you to keep the faith, you see,
but keep it as it was. We want it old.
We want it to be waiting there when we
come in from the cold.

We want you to be our Father, not our mate.
We want a solid rock; so when we roam,
we know you'll be there, waiting at the gate,
to welcome us home.


You can always get to Fr. Longenecker's blog, "Standing on my Head", by scrolling down to my sidebar section for blogging priests, religious, and deacons.



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6 comments:

onionboy said...

Thank you. This was very meaningful for me and may be for others in my family. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I first offered the mass ad orientam at St. Peter's in Rome with my family. I was amazed at how different and...how right...it seemed. I had the feeling that I was really offering the sacrifice to God the Father, and not engaged with the congregation in a dialogue. Since then (about 5 yrs. ago) it has been more difficult to say mass facing the people - no disrespect to them - because I am constantly aware that the mass is a sacrifice offered to the Father and not to the people. Now I consciously raise my eyes as I say mass, and do not make eye contact with the congregation in the parts of the mass where the prayers are offered to the Father on behalf of the people. Maybe someday my people will be ready for the ad orientam mass. When they are, I am ready.

Anonymous said...

The Priest at Holy Mass drives us towards the Heavenly Jerusalem and we all follow in the same direction. The Bus Driver drives us to an earthly destination and if the Bus Driver turns around, we panic! If we all pray the Holy Rosary we face an immage of the Blessed Mother, we don't expect the leader to turn and face us while they pray!

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

Father you are the head of your faithful, the Father figure. Our Lord says your ways are not mine. You are chosen as the leader the Father, when you go to Heaven we will follow ( opposite does happen), it is not a democracy. LEAD! For I Am the Good Shepherd...
Courage, be prepared to be hated for Him, in Season out of Season.

nati said...

Ad orientem connotes the invitation of Christ for the faithful to follow Him in worshiping the Father - the reason why the faithful go to church.
..to commiune with the HOLY and the SACRED presence represented by the ALTAR.

Nati

4unborn said...

Offering the Mass ad orientem reminds me of a shepherd leading his sheep. There is the temptation for the priest offering the Mass facing the people to be an entertainer. Our focus should be on Jesus. The Mass is not something we do for Jesus, but what Jesus does for us.