Parish starts ‘ad orientem’. Parishioner whines. Pastor responds.

Ad-Orientem-Cartoon-Meme-640x578I had a note from a reader about a parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit which moved towards ad orientem worship last January.  It seems that someone got her panties in a twist about it and wrote a nastygram email to the pastor.  He responded with a thoughtful “pastoral letter” made available to the whole parish, responding to the points in the nastygram (the usual rubbish) and providing additional catechesis about ad orientem worship.   He did a fine job.

The PDF is available on the parish website.  HERE

You might send the pastor a kudogram to balance out the nastygram.  HERE

Also, how about getting lots of gear to spread in your parish and start a movement in favor of ad orientem worship?



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Wow, reading the original email- I didn’t think people actually wrote stuff like that. I throught that was just blogosphere hyperbole. Wow…

    [You would not believe the hate-filled stupidity-riddled garbage that people send, the cowards.]

  2. dbonneville says:

    While I’m glad Father took the time to write this and address the issue, I think he missed an opportunity to give a clear, concise, short answer – at least at the the beginning. People like the parishioner who wrote in need to be educated in as few friendly but sound words as possible as they are not the type to read something long and involved like this (with large unbroken runs of text). Even most sympathetic parishioners are not going to read something this long. Our pastor (at a TLM parish) can’t get people to read the announcements, much less a liturgical essay. The length of the piece almost comes across as defensive. It’s almost like the extra words are some kind of insurance policy against a perceived future complaint. Onward boldly, not timidly, with love but no apologies.

    All that said, I’m very glad Father has done the essential thing above all – turn back to the Lord – wordy explanation or not. May more priests and their parishes follow his lead.

  3. Mike says:

    If you’ve ever heard Fr. Riccardo on Catholic radio, you know he never misses an opportunity to give a clear, thorough, authentically pastoral explanation. The virtues of terseness aside, I’m not sure he’s capable of it—and so much better for us faithful.

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Good answer from the pastor.
    However, where does it say that it’s a female writer? It could very well be a prickly old codger instead. I know quite a few men with exactly this opinions about ad orientem worship, latin and so on, one of them is 95 years old! ;-)

    [We have to be inclusive.]

  5. majuscule says:


    In his letter, the pastor made a reference to the emailer as “he” so I think it balances out in the end!

  6. tskrobola says:

    Love Fr Riccardo, he’s one of the really great priests in the Midwest. He came into Our Lady of Good Counsel to replace Fr Sullivan. Dr Sullivan was a little off-key to say the least, and openly supported radical pro abort Jennifer Granholm for Governor on his weekly bulletin when she was going to OLGC.

    Father Riccardo had to deal with a whole lot of problems at OLCG and he’s done so with his usual grace and depth.

    His write up here is masterful, however brevity is not always his #1 virtue :)

  7. tskrobola says:

    Auto correct changed Fr to Dr. Grrrr

  8. surritter says:

    I certainly applaud Fr. John’s actions, and his well-thought reply to the complainer. One thing is ironic, however. One of the first things Fr. John did when he arrived at that parish was to move the altar away from the center of the sanctuary, and set it at a jaunty angle to one side, with the ambo at a similar angle on the other side.

    The thinking was that the Word and the Eucharist are equal. Yet that is very non-traditional (and faulty thinking, in my opinion)!
    While Jesus is present in both the Word and the Eucharist, he is substantially present in the Eucharist. The Church has always taught that Jesus is pre-eminently present upon the altar, so that’s always taken center stage (if you’ll pardon the expression).

    I haven’t been there in a while; maybe it’s been rectified. But in this letter he certainly shows that he is on track with the Church’s intentions when it comes to priestly posture.

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  10. Roy Hobbes says:

    Bravo! Well done!

    While I do not claim to be an expert of the documents which are generally and collectively known as “Vatican II,” I believe the proper tack, taken by this priest, is to use the language included in those very documents in pointing out that much of what is done in the Church today, supposedly “…in the spirit of Vatican II…,” is in fact not only unsupported by those documents, but in many instances directly opposes to the very documents themselves.

    Furthermore, if the heterodox can use the ambiguity of those documents to support their positions, the orthodox can just as easily use the same to support theirs.

  11. msproule says:

    Last time I was there (about a year ago for Corpus Christi) I recall the altar was along the center axis of the sanctuary, in front of the tabernacle that was placed there under Fr. Riccardo’s watch. It’s an awful church, architecturally speaking (complete with stadium seating!), and so a lot of work was needed to fix things. Each pillar around the “arena” contains a relic, and statutes were placed all over, which helps. Also, Juventutem Michigan has hosted at least one EF Mass there. Quite a feat!

  12. pbnelson says:

    Surprisingly, Fr. Riccardo left unaddressed an astonishing, dare I say heretical, claim in that email:

    “…also, there should be a vote by the entire parish…”

    Does anyone remember a parish vote on turning versus-populum? Since when has the Church subjected her liturgy to democracy? Nine dense pages, and no response.

    Fr. Riccardo did allow space to preach the virtue of charity, and this critic feels he also should have segued to the sadly neglected virtue of obedience, as versus pride. And, yes, I appreciate the irony in proffering unsolicited advice to preach against pride.

    Yours In Christ,

  13. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The email is so very typical of the zingers we priests receive in letters, emails, and voice mails. I once had a person leave a voice mail where they exploded with rage because the answering machine listed the Mass times, but not confession times. I was out on a sick call, and was not in the rectory to receive this call.

    So I hear this yelling when I played back the messages. Here is the message:

    “God forbid any of your parishioners wish to go to confession and don’t know the confession time. I am from out of town and thanks to your failure to mention the confession time, I will not be able to go to confession. I will REMAIN in my sins, and if any of them are mortal sins, and I die, I will GO TO HELL and it will be your fault. But just remember that God will see to it that you will join me THERE!!” Then the caller, perhaps noting that my name sounded Mexican, yelled, “MUCHAS GRACIAS!” in a thick, gringo accent (thank God for small favors lol).

    Kudos to the pastor, for his liturgical efforts, and for the beautiful and pastoral elegance with which he handled the parishioner. He is an example of a priest of kindness and noble bearing.

  14. surritter says:

    Thanks, msproule. I’m glad to see that things were remodeled back to the traditional layout! I regret my comment, and hope that more good will continue to come from OL of GC parish.

  15. frleo says:

    I “introduced” ad orientem celebration in my two smaller churches on the Second Sunday of Advent in 2015. I wanted them to experience it and talked about the Advent hymn “People Look East”. I did not plan on it being a regular thing. The parishioners at one of these churches asked if we could do it again at Christmas. When I arrived for Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent they asked if we could do it then. They requested it every Sunday I had Mass there. I told them I would celebrate Mass whichever way they set up. I’ve been saying Mass as orientem there since. My associate also started celebrating ad orientem These parishioners understand. I said Mass as orientem in all of the churches this past Advent. There were a few letters to myself and at least one signed one to the bishop complaining. There were also a lot of encouraging words.

  16. Foster says:

    Funny after all these years of reading Fr. Z I feel I need to write my thoughts, lucky I remember my pass word. Okay my thoughts:

    For the love of everything that is Holy, who in their right mind writes to their Priest in such a horrid manner? As Father mentions in his reply you shouldn’t write to any one in this manner but to a member of the cloth like that????????????????? I am disgusted and will pray for that person in my rosary today.

  17. Rodinka47 says:

    the fact that the majority of the christian community at this parish has approved the position at Mass if it is such a burden to the parishioner, they could: a) go to another parish, or b) wrote the Bishop! On the other hand, our 40 years of “tradition” with this ad populum posture had poisoned the stream!Again, it becomes a question of how important is it to fight over these things in an era of mass acedia! We should be rejoicing that those who come, especially the youth, are there because they want to be. The trouble in some dioceses is that one priest comes and creates a good liturgy and people complain for awhile, then the next guy shows up and tells the parishioners that it’s time to open the windows. We had such a situation in our parish, we were positively draughty! We drank the Koolaid and endorsed every priest who tickled our fancy. then we had a couple of more traditional priests who returned our Parish to a beautiful liturgy à la the usual position but with correct celebration and monthly EF Masses! then you should have heard the brouhaha! People left some for the Alliance, another for Calvary Temple and another for the Mennonites! In each case the Families returned because the Wives missed the Real Presence in the Tabernacle! Now we have nothing but laziness and jokes and silly statements. a Pastor who is a bureaucrat and who started at 8:30 and is done by 4PM! O tempora! O mores…

  18. Joeski5651 says:

    A person convinced against his will is not convinced. Everything that has been said is true. The person complaining doesn’t really care if they get a response or not. That person wants what they are accustomed to and wants to say something about it. That’s the rub with educating a parish. Even though what you are doing now to straighten out the past, the parishioners suffer the fall out with every newly assigned priest who does something different no matter how theologically correct it may be.

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