ACTION ITEM! Wherein Fr. Z makes suggestions to priests about “ad orientem” worship.

action-item-buttonIn an email exchange I had, and a conversation with a priest friend, a couple ideas came up.

Context: Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a plea to priests to begin offering Holy Mass ad orientem versus.  He made this bid during a liturgy conference.  He wasn’t speaking officially, in his capacity as Prefect.  He was speaking as a man of prayer, who has a broad perspective and a privileged vantage point to regard what is going on in the Church.

So, Card. Sarah (pronounced Sah-RAH), made his bid and liberals reacted swiftly and sharply.  There were denials that the rubrics were changing, despite the fact that Sarah said nothing about that.  Then the now-retired papal spokesman leapt in and added comments that “reform of the reform” is not useful or acceptable or desirable or accurate… or something.   Apparently, that phrase is a cause of “misunderstandings”.  Card. Sarah has been quiet since that talk and after an audience with Pope Francis.

This brings me to me to the ideas.

First, if the powers-that-be don’t like the phrase “reform of the reform” (which I wasn’t really wedded to anyway), how about something like “correction of the deform”?  Perhaps that won’t give the wrong impression?

Second, I know priests who have and who are turning their worship ad orientem versus.  I have a suggestion for them.

I suggest, reverend and dear Fathers, that you write Cardinal Sarah a letter, telling him about your experience in the parish or chapel of ongoing ad orientem worship or your move towards it.

You might write something like,

Your Eminence,

I am pastor of St. Fidelia in Tall Tree Circle in the Diocese of Black Duck.  Two years ago, after a catechetical series of several weeks, we began to have all celebrations of Holy Mass ad orientem versus.

While a few parishioners resisted this reorientation, most everyone accepted it well cum serena pace.  To my knowledge no on died from fright or became seriously ill because they had to see the decorative back panel of my chasuble. Similarly no one was rendered incapable of following the liturgy due to lack of sight of my face.  I don’t not think that anybody lost her faith, had a case of the vapors, or spontaneously combusted.

A small group has begun to attend Mass at a neighboring parish, but several times more people have begun coming to St. Fidelia.

I have received numerous letters and comments that indicate an increased appreciation for the reverent atmosphere and greater sense of prayer.  I enclose a few examples, in copy.

Also, attached to the present letter, please find copies of my “Pastor’s Page” series about ad orientem worship.

Thanking Your Eminence for your generous service to the Church and with every good wish I am sincerely in Christ….

While some of above is clearly facetious – mostly to keep you reading to the end – your notes to Card. Sarah could be a) useful, b) interesting and c) consoling.

Another type of note could explain to the Cardinal how you plan on making the change to ad orientem worship.

Another type could tell Card. Sarah how you were bullied, pressured or otherwise threatened into remaining versus populum.

Or a combination of the above!

You do not necessarily have to write to Card. Sarah in his capacity as Prefect of the Congregation, lest someone get the idea that you were asking for official intervention.

You could write to him in his capacity as Cardinal-Deacon of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana.  After all, that’s what he is!

Here is His Eminence’s address.

Be sure to let him know that you remember him regularly in your prayers.  Also, if you have read his book, let him know.

His Eminence
Robert Card. Sarah
of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana

Just a thought or two.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Richard A says:

    A year after returning to worship ad orientem, we still have the brochures in our pews explaining the reasons for it. Father wrote the text himself and the accompanying pictures were actually of him in our church demonstrating it. It was very well done.
    One additional advantage is that when the occasional attendee does combust spontaneously, Father is able to continue offering the Mass reverently because he isn’t distracted by it. Our well-trained ushers simply bring up a dustpan and brush and discretely deal with the ashes.

  2. iPadre says:

    I wrote to Cardinal Sarah on July 2nd thanking him for all he has said about ad orientem and telling him about it’s success in my parish. We have been doing ad orientem at weekday Masses for about 7 years and all Masses – Sundays, funerals, … for over 3-1/2 years. What a blessing, what a difference.

  3. Allan S. says:

    I think lay people ought to write to him as well, promising prayers and offering words of support. I have done so, and it seems such a small gesture that a man of the Cardinal’s character would appreciate. He is in the largest foxhole of the current conflict, with friendly-fire increasing.

  4. Christine says:

    Would it be appropriate to write as a lay person to tell the Cardinal that we are praying for him and that we support him?

  5. rcg says:

    Counter Deformation

  6. There were denials that the rubrics were changing, despite the fact that Sarah said nothing about that.

    Suddenly, the liberals care about rubrics (or, in this case, “rubrics”).

  7. seattle_cdn says:

    Having spent the past week in Krakow it would seem that ad orientem is already the norm!

  8. Hidden One says:

    I think that it would be especially suitable to offer–or have offered– ad orientem Masses for His Eminence’s intentions.

    Also, I would argue that people who don’t understand the term “reform of the reform” should stop trying to tell me that it’s a bad idea.

  9. robtbrown says:

    Then the now-retired papal spokesman leapt in and added comments that “reform of the reform” is not useful or acceptable or desirable or accurate… or something.   Apparently, that phrase is a cause of “misunderstandings”.  Card. Sarah has been quiet since that talk and after an audience with Pope Francis.

    Apparently, Pope Francis’ call to go out and make a mess doesn’t apply to liturgical reform. On the other hand, perhaps the pope thinks that the liturgy is already such a mess that any attempts in that direction would be a waste of valuable make-a-mess energy.

  10. rtjl says:

    Instead of “reform of the reform” how about “true implementation of Vatican II in keeping with sacred Tradition”. I know it’s wordy but this battle won’t be won without wresting the definition of Vatican II out of the hands of the deformers. They can no longer be allowed the exclusive prerogative to determine what Vatican II meant/means.

    To be fair, I do see much progress happening in this regard. The deformers are still in charge but more and more I am seeing evidence that people in charge of liturgies at the diocesan level (and at some parishes) are actually reading the documents of Vatican II, the GIRM and other liturgical directives and are doing so with an awareness of history and the need to reconnect with tradition. Progress is slow – but steady. Brick by Brick as the saying goes.

  11. Gregorius says:

    And laity, if your priests are courageous enough to start implementing ad orientem, be sure to write to the local bishop in support of the priest. If the liberal rhetoric claims it will cause confusion and chaos among us uneducated laity, and priests are worried angry parishioners will complain to the bishop, that narrative should be countered by larger numbers of laity writing how ad orientem in fact helped them better understand why they’re at Mass (and perhaps so inspired them to increase their regular offering to the parish).

  12. bethv says:

    This article reminded me of a passage from Acts 5:39 that felt appropriate and gave me a hopeful reminder: “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

  13. ReadingLad says:

    @ Richard A – just remember that the ashes of the spontaneously combusted should be interred afterwards, and not scattered…

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