Friday, December 21, 2007

Ad Orientem

~From Vultus Christi, here is a beautiful reflection on celebrating ad orientem by Father Mark. It was a joy to be present at a Mass with him at the Oratory of Our Lady of Good Help at the Abbey of Santa Croce. We faced East together.
What are the advantages of standing at the altar ad orientem, as I have experienced them over the past two years? I can think of ten straight off:
  1. Holy 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 Eucharistic Prayer 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 Eucharistic Prayer 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 Eucharistic Prayer 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.
For me as part of the faithful, having a priest celebrate ad orientem helps me to re-orient my focus, to be present mentally in the prayers, to become more deeply aware of the Sacrifice being offered and the prayer being offered up to the God the Father. And it blessedly relieves me from having to feel emotions. At the Elevation, I don't see the priest's face but the Sacrament and the sacrificial nature of the Mass is made clearer in that austere and stark way. I am made to bow down and say, "My Lord and my God."

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