Young people react to “ad orientem” Mass: “I think it feels more, well, manly.”

Over at Fr. Longenecker’s place, there is an an interesting entry on young people and ad orientem worship.

My emphases and comments.

Friday, May 09, 2008
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?"



"It feels more holy. It’s older right? But you’re not really facing East here."  [Ex ore infantium….]

"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."  [… perfecisti laudem!]

"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?"  [God bless these young men!]

"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."  [The point of Holy Mass is our transforming encounter with Mystery.  We need awe at trasncendence!]

"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?"


WDTPRS kudos to the excelleny Fr. Longenecker and those kids!

Good job!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mary Rose says:

    That is just awesome! It made me want to hug each one of those boys! Wouldn’t it be really wonderful if those young men could write a testimonial of why they liked “ad orientum” Mass and have it placed in the bulletin? It would be a great reminder to everyone of the truths that have been preserved in the Mass throughout the centuries.

    I just love youth, anyway. I’m hoping to soon find an opportunity to work with younger women.

    P.S. Just got my first Mantilla. Hot diggity! My mother and grandmother would never have believed it if they saw me today. Note to praying moms: You just never know. Keep praying. :-)

  2. Paul says:

    laus tibi Christe!

    Is there hope that the rubrics will someday be changed to mandate ad orientem worship? Or has that come to be set in stone?

  3. bryan says:

    Ex ore infantium, indeed.

    Sometimes I wonder if we adults, so taken up with our own unworthy
    aspirations and wordly concerns, having lost our childlike (not childish)
    innocence, are more concerned sometimes with making God fit our developed
    world view than accepting, like the children Christ admonished to let come
    to Him, our position in the universe vis-a-vis our Creator and the proper
    worship due Him.

  4. Brian Day says:

    “You’re not that good looking anyway Father.”


  5. Agnes says:

    Say the black, do the red… be a man! I love it. Much depends on the personality of the priest becoming very small – not that he should ever be shoved aside into a chair and let the laity take over. But as he leads us into the Holy Sacrifice, he needs to become almost transparent, like a magnifying glass to the Tabernacle. Is that about right, Z, or am I missing something? The bigger the ego, unfortunately, the greater the danger of simply getting in the way.

  6. Prof. Basto says:

    This reminds me of the following passages of the Gospel according to St. Mark:

    14 …Sinite parvulos venire ad me. Ne prohibueritis eos; talium est enim regnum Dei

    15 Amen dico vobis quisque non receperit regnum Dei velut parvulus non intrabit in illud.

  7. Larry says:

    If there is a Marshall Plan it ain’t Marshall. This is the Berlin airlift and it is carried on the Wings of the Holy Spirit.

  8. haha, I love the line where the boys say “you’re not that good looking anyway Father”…Deo Gratias, I just might use these as a testamony to Ad Orientem Worship…

  9. LCB says:

    If Fr. Longenecker keeps up these great posts, he may deserve his own title to rival His Hermenuticalness.

  10. RichR says:

    One of the boys came onto the blog and mentioned that Fr. Longnecker may have been embellishing a little bit, but that the gist of the conversation was captured.

    I wouldn’t declare victory, yet, but posts like this can be very encouraging to other priests to try the same. It’s good to know that young people, who have no preconceived notions, can see a practice as inspiring or uninspiring – not pre-concilliar or post-concilliar.

  11. Michael Lavey says:

    I grew up in a Catholic school. When I went to Ascension campus in 6th grade, one of the older priests would have us kneel at the rail for communion on Holy Days. I thought it was such a neat “invention” (I had no idea that was how it had always been done). I thought it was so much more spiritual. I remember asking my teacher why we didn’t do that all the time. I believe her response was something to the effect of “Vatican II changed all that”.

  12. Woody Jones says:

    There is hope after all.

  13. gravey says:

    Agnes, Brilliant! You just created the great battle cry: Say the Black, Do the Red…Be a Man! Where can I buy the T-shirt?

  14. Carolina Catholic says:

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

    It is indeed more manly. In fact, I would be curious how these boys would react to the traditional Mass. My contention is that the Novus Ordo Mass contains a host of elements that are effeminate. For example, the lack of rigid structure. Or the breakdown of a hierarchy. Or the constant communication between the priest and the congregation. Or the handshakey, touchy-feely, community aspect of it. Or the need to include as many people and more as possible in the proceedings. These are not manly traits.

    Ad orientam worship takes the focus off of us, and places it on God. That’s a very manly thing to do, and so the observations of these boys are right on target.

    I hope and pray that as Father Longenecker grows in his priesthood (he’s only been a priest for a year and a half, after all), he will come to appreciate the traditional Mass and even offer it himself. Then he will really be able to start making men of these boys.

  15. Robert McDonald says:

    I read an article somewhere last year on a Traditionalist site that spoke about the first time the proposed changes to the Mass were shown to the council Fathers at Vatican 2.

    The article spoke about a comment from one Cardinal who said that if these changes were implemented, men would stop attending Mass – something about losing the heads of families.

    I have been unable to find the article again, or any further information about the quote. Maybe someone else can comment on this story, which seems relevant to the comments from the high school boys.

  16. John says:

    Dear Robert,
    The Cardinal in question is Cardinal Heenan of England. I believe that Michael Davies cites this incident rather frequently in his writings, although I have none of them to hand to look up the citation. I hope that is enough to set you on the right track.

  17. Habemus Papam says:

    The quote is from Cardinal Heenan at the time that the Novus Ordo was introduced. He said a time would come when old women and children would be the only people attending it.

  18. Pingback: Boys Will Be Boys « Catholic Sensibility

  19. Ann says:

    Carolina, I totally agree with your words below:

    “My contention is that the Novus Ordo Mass contains a host of elements that are effeminate. For example, the lack of rigid structure. Or the breakdown of a hierarchy. Or the constant communication between the priest and the congregation. Or the handshakey, touchy-feely, community aspect of it. Or the need to include as many people and more as possible in the proceedings. These are not manly traits.”

    This is exactly the experience I have at Mass. I have explained my views in a comment on the Cardinal’s video, so I won’t repeat them here, but suffice it to say that even if the priests turned around and faced the altar again, a lot of things would change very quickly!

  20. Newman's Crew says:

    Did any body mention that Fr. Longenecker is a convert?

    Has anbody acknowledged the fact that former Anglicans have enhanced the Catholic Church recently??????

    Don’t you think we should encourage more to swim the Tiber?

  21. Robert McDonald says:

    Thanks for the information about Cardinal Heenan. I’ve been able to find the quote in several sources, but not any more detail about what particularly bothered him in the new liturgy? Or was he referring to it as a whole?

    Also, I seem to see more information about Cardinal Heenan’s statement on British TV that Catholics can use contraception and still be in good conscience, than on his views on liturgy.

    His quote about the liturgy is a good quote, but I’d be interested to know if he had anything practical to offer on what would make the liturgy more attractive to men.

Comments are closed.