Brick by brick, altar by altar! Another parish turns “ad orientem”!

Here is some great news.   Fr. Jay Finelli, whose podcasts are up for an award in the same contest this blog is a part of (HERE – VOTE DAILY to help (Fr. Z’s Blog TOO!)), sent me a note saying:

In Tribute to His Holiness Benedict XVI, we are going “ad orientem” at all Masses beginning with the Easter Vigil.

This is clearly the direction Pope wanted to urge the Church.  I made my own podcasts about what he was doing in promoting, both in his books and in his good example, what has come to be called the “Benedictine Arrangement”, that is, the Crucifix at the center of a versus populum altar (for Mass “facing the people”) with the corpus facing the priest, so that Christ remains the center of focus.  This is a transitional arrangement and one that is superior where Mass cannot physically but be celebrated “facing the people”.

Fr. Finelli provided inserts in his parish bulletin, HERE.  They include quotes from Joseph Ratzinger and a pamphlet.  Fathers!  These could be useful in helping your own parishes make this transition.

A great statement during the Year of Faith!

CLICK TO VOTE (It takes just a few seconds.)


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Year of Faith and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jon says:

    Excellent, but I have to say that I often find myself distressed about something else that should be an element of the Reform of the Reform that’s only rarely talked about. That “something” is altar girls.

    I’m sure many of you are familiar with Dr. Robert Moynihan’s Inside the Vatican newsletter. Last night’s contained a couple of very revealing paragraphs.

    “In the spring of 1994, I had dinner in Rome with two tradition-minded Catholics, Eric de Saventhem and Michel Davies, both now deceased. It was April 11, 1994, a Monday. They told me they had had meetings that day with Cardinal Re and Cardinal Sodano, and had been informed that the Church had decided to approve the use of altar girls at Mass, and that the announcement was imminent. By chance, I had an interview scheduled for the next morning, April 12, with Cardinal Ratzinger. During the interview, I told the cardinal what the two men had told me. “That’s not possible,” he said to me. “The matter has not yet come across my desk, and it cannot be decided until it does.”

    The next day, April 13, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls issued a communique saying that the Holy See had approved the use of altar girls. (The actual letter announcing the approval had been signed by the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship several weeks before.) Seven years later, another letter from the same Congregation said the approval could not “require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers, since ‘it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar’ (Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, March 15, 1994, no. 2). Indeed, the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain, not least of all due to the well known assistance that such programs have provided since time immemorial in encouraging future priestly vocations (cf. ibid.).”

    If there was ever an inorganic, artificial, unhistorical, and politically motivated imposition on the Sacred Liturgy, this is it. The damage it has done to vocations, to the priesthood, to relations with the Orthodox, to Western society, and to the Church overall is incalculable. I wish priests and laity would boldly demand that this outrage be repealed. A single Sunday altar girl is as damaging as any Sunday army of EMHC’s.

    Fathers, it is your right to say “NO.”

    I pray with all my might that the machinations of Cardinals Sodano and Re in this Conclave come to naught. Being 86, Sodano by rights should have left the scene long ago. At 79, Re will next week cast his last vote for Pontiff.

    May they both soon enjoy quiet days “serenely strolling” in some monastery garden, accompanied only by their Rosaries and the snapping paparazzi.

  2. JonPatrick says:

    Congratulations to Fr. Finelli for taking this courageous step. I only wish I lived further south in New England so I could attend there!

  3. FXR2 says:

    Fr Finelli,
    Thank you for not fleeing in the face of the wolves. Be assured of my prayers.


  4. chantgirl says:

    Thank you, Fr. Finelli. A priest I know would like to celebrate the NO ad orientem, but says that his bishop isn’t convinced. Does he need his bishop’s permission? I know obedience is important, but is this a priest’s or a bishop’s decision?

  5. Deo Gratias!…may more parishes follow this example.

    chantgirl, no, a Bishop’s permission isn’t “needed” but as always, it’s nice to have the support of the Bishop before doing such matters in this day and age.

  6. Hidden One says:

    Now here we have a real and good reform!

  7. Father Flores says:

    I particularly enjoyed how he deftly turned the often pejorative description of “School bus” arrangements for traditional cruciform churches to his advantage.

  8. Mike says:

    God bless that church! I can’t help but wonder if, in his retired life, our dear Benedict is praying for stuff like this.

  9. MouseTemplar says:


    In response to your objection to altar girls, we Moms in our parish have simply let the people who schedule altar servers know that our sons will not serve with girls but will wait to be assigned to an all male team. We normally have a Dad serving with at least two boys for Sunday Mass. We’re now down to a single pair of 14 yr old girls who serve together and no other girls have applied for years. Hopefully there is some age cut-off at which these last holdouts have to “retire”!

  10. Rich says:

    Fr. Z., The icon at the bottom of this post doesn’t take you straight to the voting page for the awards, as the others do. Instead, it takes you to the main page for the awards and one must toodle around a bit before finding the voting page. Just thought I might let you know as the other icon which takes you straight to the voting page makes it easier to vote.

Comments are closed.