The Cardinal Newman Society, which studies Catholic Higher Education, has an interesting piece about ad orientem worship at Catholic schools. The CNS has a great news widget on my sidebar. Check it out now and watch it every day!
Students Show Growing Appreciation for Traditional Masses, Say College Chaplains
Among Catholic colleges and dioceses across the country there has been an apparent rise in the celebration of the Mass ad orientem, where the priest and congregation face the same direction, traditionally to the east. The Cardinal Newman Society spoke with chaplains from three colleges recommended in The Newman Guide about the Masses celebrated ad orientem on campus and what that type of worship brings to students.
At Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., the priest celebrates ad orientem during several weekly Masses—two in the Extraordinary form, as well as two in the Ordinary Form in English and one in Latin—College chaplain Father Stephen McGraw told the Newman Society.
Fr. McGraw explained:
The gradual introduction and occasional celebration of Mass “ad orientem” on campus, along with the celebration “versus populum,” allows students to experience the traditional and historic way of celebrating the Eucharist without jarring them and helps show and reinforce for them the “hermeneutic of continuity” (as spoken of by Benedict XVI) between the Masses of the preconciliar and postconciliar periods. [Good approach. Some of these young people may have only experienced the Ritus Suburbanus.]
Masses celebrated ad orientem give students “an opportunity to participate in liturgical prayer that leads them to contemplation,” [A lot harder with the priest gawking at you with a grin as if he were Conan O’Brien.] said Father Hildebrand Garceau, chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Santa Paula, Calif. “All are facing liturgical east in one movement of prayer and offering. It seems to aid greatly in reducing distractions and helping students to focus on the liturgical action of the most powerful prayer in the universe—the Holy Mass.”
At TAC, Masses are said each morning in the Extraordinary Form which gives the undergraduates a “reverent, quiet, contemplative Mass,” said Fr. Garceau. Most Saturdays, a Mass is also said in the Ordinary Form.
Father John Healy at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (TMC) in Merrimack, N.H., told the Society that TMC began to celebrate the Latin Mass ad orientem once a week on Fridays because of student demand. Students continue to tell him that the silence in the Mass “impresses them in a particular way” and is very helpful for them, he said.
Additionally, said Christendom’s Fr. McGraw, ad orientem worship “shows our communion with the Eastern Church, which for the most part cele?brates the liturgy of the Eucharist ‘ad orientem.’” He also noted that the priests at Christendom have “expressed their appreciation” for the chance to celebrate these Masses for the students.
According to Fr. Healy, bishops in the dioceses that celebrate the Extraordinary Form say that a lot of the participation is from the younger generation. This gives hope for liturgy and Church tradition both in the present and in the future, he said. It is encouraging to see students appreciate the traditional forms of the Mass.
Ave Maria University, the College of Saint Mary Magdalen, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, the University of St. Thomas-Houston and Wyoming Catholic College [hurray!] also offer Masses ad orientem.
All the aforementioned colleges are recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity. The Cardinal Newman Society recently released the 2015 edition of the Guide along with an innovative new “Recruit Me” program that allows students to sign up so that the recommended colleges can compete for them.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.
For more on why ad orientem worship is important – more important than ever especially as a tool of the New Evangelization – check out two books which would be great gifts for your parish priests this Christmas.