A Deacon’s First Holy Mass ‘ad orientem’ – Wherein Fr. Z issues an invitation

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.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    While the Extraordinary form of the Mass is indeed wonderful, I can’t personally help but wonder about how many complaints regarding the Ordinary Form would just melt away with a few crucial tweaks. The first is obviously the restoration of Ad Orientem to be the normal method of celebration. The second would be restoring Alter rails with reception at said rail. The final is of course the question of language. Latin makes sense for a lot of good reasons, but I also think an elevated Vernacular would be an enormous imrovement. Of course that might make us look a bit more like the Anglican Ordinariate… but compared to the state of the Ordinary Form right now… I think that could be a good thing.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    @Maryland Bill: I could not agree more. I have always felt that if the Ordinary Form had been celebrated as originally intended by Holy Mother Church, i.e. fidelity to the rubrics, “ad orientem”, retention of the communion rail, Latin and vernacular, chant, incense, reverence, only ordained and instituted ministers, etc., very few would desire what we now call the Extraordinary Form.

    I recall when “Summorum Pontificum” was promulgated, a priest was distressed. Not that he had any ill-will towards the Mass of St Pius V per se, but he felt that the Mass of Bl. Paul VI had not been tried and found wanting, but that it had yet to be tried… properly!

    For the past two weekends, I had the blessing to attend Mass celebrated “ad orientem”. It makes a tremendous difference in focus and emphasis. It definitely needs to be discussed, praised, and restored throughout the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

  3. JamesF-J says:

    I would also advocate for the return of the silent Canon to the OF Mass – it makes such a difference to the reverence of the Mass

  4. QuietContemplative says:

    Father Z., let us know if he takes you up on that! I’d love to hear his opinion of the experience.

  5. Michael says:

    JamesF-J, 100% Agreed! That has to be the next step.

  6. Bthompson says:

    As a priest, I have substituted a few times at the Protocathedral of St James (Southern WA State), which as a historical building only has a high altar; it was a peerless experience!

    I have never felt as connected to the people as those rare opportunities wherein I said Mass Facing the Lord with them.

  7. johnnys says:

    @Geoffrey: I suggest you read Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson to see why the OF would not be more desirable than the EF no matter what changes were made to the OF to be ‘more like’ the EF. Perhaps tolerable would be a better way to say it.

  8. BenjaminiPeregrinus says:

    “I recall when “Summorum Pontificum” was promulgated, a priest was distressed. Not that he had any ill-will towards the Mass of St Pius V per se, but he felt that the Mass of Bl. Paul VI had not been tried and found wanting, but that it had yet to be tried… properly! ”

    Why waste the effort when we can just do what we always have? We need to return to the concept of liturgy as a thing received, rather than created.

  9. eamonob says:

    Completely agree with you and Maryland Bill. Just the turn to ad orientem changes the whole experience to something more sacred and profound. That and the music. I remember back when my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Greece, we went to Mass at a convent said by the Latin Rite bishop of the island. It was the ordinary form but said ad orientem. The ordinary form ad orientem, by a bishop, in Greek, with a choir of nuns singing. Beautiful.

  10. MarylandBill says:

    @eamonaob That reminds me of one more reform… which is the music. There is good liturgical music out there… but unfortunately that is not what is used at the vast majority of parishes. I would, if I had my druthers, put a ban on the use of the guitar and the piano in the liturgy. Its not that I hate either of those instruments (indeed, I love lots of music made on both instruments), but their association with bad 70s and 80s church music is so strong, I doubt they can be redeemed for at least a generation. I would in fact be fine with well trained chant replacing most music in the mass.

  11. KateD says:


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