Here is something interesting from blogger Deacon Greg Kandra. He has had his first experience as a sacred minister for Holy Mass ad orientem.
Rev. Mr. Kandra was visiting a parish where Mass is said towards the liturgical East. Let’s see something of what he has to say. My emphases:
Deacon, look East: serving my first Mass ad orientem
[The pastor] told me Saturday he had started doing one of the Masses ad orientem—giving his flock plenty of notice—and said the response had been positive for both himself and the people in the pews. “When you pray the Mass that way,” he told me Saturday night over dinner, “it brings people together in a way that is almost indescribable. You have all these people from different backgrounds and different ways of being Catholic, and suddenly it’s all focused in one direction, for one purpose.”
And I found that out myself Sunday morning.
“Is there anything special I need to know?,” I asked Fr. Aron. “I’ve never done Mass this way before.”
“It’s exactly the same,” he said, “just turned around.”
And it was.
And I have to say: there was also something profoundly humbling about it. Just as Fr. Aron described it, all the energy in the church seems to go toward that moment, that action on the altar. And all the action on the altar was directed there, in that time and space. There were no distractions, nothing to draw the eye away from the chalice and that sliver of bread. It was at once transcendent, but also intensely private.
There’s no other way to put this: it was beautiful.
For a more objective take, I asked my traveling companion and CNEWA colleague Phil Eubanks what he thought of it. Phil is a young Methodist from Tennessee and has seen his fair share of Catholic Masses over the years. How did this strike him?, I wondered.
“I actually like it better,” he said after Mass. “That moment when the priest raises the host and the chalice is suddenly so much more powerful.”
It’s made all the more so, I think, because the bread and wine been more or less obscured from view during the Eucharistic Prayer. At the moment of consecration, suddenly the sacred species are revealed for what they are: Christ physically present before us.
It’s enough to bring us to our knees.
Do I hear an “Amen!”?
I have often written about how learning to say the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite changes priests forever. I haven’t thought about the effect on deacons. I know that altar boys prefer it, in general. In this case, Rev. Mr. Kandra has had a taste of something which is part and parcel of the older, traditional Roman Rite, but which is also entirely appropriate and even rubrically preferred for the Novus Ordo.
I hereby extend an invitation to Deacon Kandra to come to Madison where we would be pleased to have him act as Deacon for a Traditional Solemn Mass or even as Deacon for a Pontifical Mass. He would be able to have the “full nine yards” of what it is to be a deacon at the altar in the Roman Rite. If he would be pleased to contact me, I would be pleased to chat about it.
We would be very pleased to have him visit. Perhaps we could also organize a mini-conference for his visit with a couple speakers and make it an event.