GREAT NEWS! Bp. Wall of @DioceseofGallup will celebrate Sundays ‘ad orientem’

I don’t know about you, but I needed some good news.

Here’s some good news.

His Excellency Most Rev. James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup, on 22 July, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, issued a letter to the people of the diocese entrusted to his care.  HERE

Citing that we have become too lax in our approach to the Eucharist, citing the and citing Benedict XVI’ teachings and his recent letter about The Present Crisis, Bp. Wall has determined that …

For all these reasons, I have decided that, since the recent solemnity of Corpus Christi, the 11:00am Sunday Mass will henceforth be celebrated ad orientem at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Gallup.

In the letter the bishop provides exemplary catechesis in which he cites the best sources, such as my friend Fr. Lang’s book Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer [US HERE – UK HERE] and also Ratzinger’s Spirit Of The Liturgy. [US HERE– UK HERE].

He also, and this was very good, deals with issue of “preference”.

Finally, let me say a few words on the matter of preference. There is an old saying that holds de gustibus non est disputandum: when it comes to taste, there is no room for dispute. To a point, that is true. Nobody can fault anybody for liking chocolate chip ice cream more than mint, or Chevrolet more than Ford. When it comes to the ways in which we worship God, however, nothing is simply a matter of taste. Msgr. Charles Pope explains this well: “Preferences should be rooted in solid liturgical principles. […] People matter, and they should be nourished and intelligently engaged in the Sacred Liturgy—but not in a way that forgets that the ultimate work of the Liturgy is not merely to please or enrich us but to be focused on and worship the Lord” […]

Exactly.  One can dispute taste.  Not all preferences are of equal value.  It might be that you have chosen something inferior.  Yes… let that sink in.  It’s better to set this category aside in these matters.

I also like the photo on the page that serves up the bishop’s letter.  In the background is the tabernacle (which needs a veil, the true sign of the Real Presence, but I digress) surmounted by words set in stone: SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS.  Just right.

May I say that I am reminded of the late, great Extraordinary Ordinary of Madison.  Bp. Morlino made a strong argument and determined to celebrate ad orientem on Sundays.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Wall.


On Twitter my friend Sam Howard remarked.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some nitwit labelled this “racist”. After all, isn’t everything that actually makes sense “racist”? Like, say, logic?

So, what’s next for Bp. Wall and his valiant staff?

Is that an ancestor of Susan of the Parish Council?

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  1. This is awesome. My mom and stepdad went to his ordination when they lived in Pinetop AZ. He visited the mountains frequently and my stepdad became known as the Bishop’s photographer. Bishop Wall is a great Bishop with quite a sense of humor. I have a picture where he photo bombed my mom, lol.

  2. rcg says:

    A sense of humor? My goodness, he is a dangerous t.

  3. Benedict Joseph says:

    What a difference a few miles makes. “Ad orientem” is verboten in Santa Fe. The local ordinary seems to believe it “disorients” the locals.
    AUSCP is what the faithful find disorienting.

  4. Markus says:

    Diocese, such as Santa Fe, appear to be in deep, deep trouble. Personal observations have noticed that attendance on Sundays is about 50% less than a year ago in the 3 parishes that I have attended in the diocese. It would not surprise me that “such changes” do not start happening on a more frequent basis as some good bishops step forth to stem the tide. The enlightened ones, hopefully, will start taking steps in a positive direction. One liberal parish, that my wife and I have recently started to attend again, has already begun to change; music, kneeling at the concentration, and many other small steps. As a visiting priest friend just commented, to us last week, “the cathedral is a circus.”

  5. rbbadger says:

    I am a priest of the Diocese of Gallup. However, anything I write here is my own opinion. I do not speak for the Diocese in any official basis.

    I was a seminarian for this diocese under the previous bishop. I was ordained by the current bishop. It is remarkable how much has changed and for the better. I do strongly believe that it is providential that we have the Ordinary that we do. We remain grateful that he said yes to the call that the Church asked of him.

    Liturgy hasn’t been something of a priority for many bishops. However, ours does take it very seriously. A few years after becoming our bishop, Adam Bartlett’s Simple English Propers became what was sung in place of the songs and hymns. While all the chants are in English, they are authentically chants. Gregorian Chant is characterized by a close marriage of both music and speech. It is basically sung speech. You simply cannot translate many of the chants in English and expect that they will fit the Latin melodies. New chants are needed and Bartlett is an expert at this, seeing as he studied under a great chant scholar who was expert at Englishing the chant, namely the late chant master of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey Dom Columba Kelly, OSB. (As an aside, the late, great Hungarian chant scholar Laszlo Dobszay did similar things for chant in Hungarian. I have a recording of his Hungarian Chant.) While this cannot, of course, replace Gregorian Chant, the closer our music for the Mass can resemble chant, the better.

    Those devoted to Haugen and Haas raised all sorts of uproar and it took some time for things to settle down. I simply cannot imagine how one could come to love the music of moralist therapeutic deism, but there are those who do. The late British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who despite being an agnostic, loved hymns. In editing what would become the English Hymnal, Vaughan Williams basically stated in the preface: “It ought no longer to be true anywhere‘that the most exalted moments of a church-goer’s week are associated with music that would not be tolerated in any place of secular entertainment.” As a convert with a background in Church music, knowing full well what the Catholic Church has produced and is capable of, I constantly find myself saddened by what I encounter in the parishes. We are not a large diocese. We may well be the poorest diocese in this country, seeing as we have several Native American tribes and very rural parishes which struggle to remain afloat. However, in our cathedral, we manage to sing chant.

    As for Santa Fe, I have a number of close friends among the presbyterate of that archdiocese. Pray for them. They have difficult times ahead. But, with all the black clouds which come our way, there are also the silver linings. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is nothing I would wish on any diocese. We had to go through it. It was painful indeed. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is indeed undergoing a severe mercy at this time. One hopes that it will result in a holier archdiocese. At least I do. I do fear for them, though. We did have priests who did horrific things in our diocese. Santa Fe is a great deal larger than we are and also had one of the most infamous treatment centers in the country, namely the Servants of the Paraclate. However, Chapter 11 will also prevent the archbishop from doing certain things he wants to do because the courts may not allow it. So there is that.

  6. Sue in soCal says:

    Yay!!! God bless Bishop Wall!

  7. Markus says:

    Thank you, Father. We stopped bankruptcy 25 years ago and now it appears that many are just walking away or dying off. There are some great,holy priests in this diocese. There is a tension here, however, and it does not appear only to be financially related. When 400 year traditions, such as Catholic, public processions are “negotiated” away, many question why. My neighbors have brought up many of their concerns during conversations. The Church will survive here, as it has in the past. In what form, and its role, will be the question.

  8. Andreas says:

    Father Z; You wrote above that “I wouldn’t be surprised if some nitwit labelled this “racist”. After all, isn’t everything that actually makes sense “racist”? Like, say, logic?”. Well, as Pat Buchanan noted in his most recent post ( , “…a racist is a conservative who is winning an argument with a liberal.”

  9. Sharing some pics; and if you are seeing this dear Bishop Wall, mom (Margaret) has stage 4 lung cancer and is undergoing chemo. They moved to Texas six years ago and that is why the camera hound is missing.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Outstanding. God bless Bp. Wall and all in the Diocese.

    Another good paragraph, Bp. Wall quoting Benedict XVI:

    “Allow me now to give a brief explanation of ad orientem or ad Deum worship. Prayer and worship “toward the East” (ad orientem, oriented prayer) “is, first and foremost, a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. It expresses the basic christological form of our prayer. […] Praying toward the east means going to meet the coming Christ. The liturgy, turned toward the East, effects entry, so to speak, into the procession of history toward the future, the New Heaven and the New Earth, which we encounter in Christ” (Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 69-70). By facing Christ together at Mass, we can see how “[o]ur prayer is thus inserted into the procession of the nations to God” (ibid., p. 76).”

  11. TonyO says:

    I heartily applaud Bp. Wall’s decision. But

    a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. … By facing Christ together at Mass, we can see how “[o]ur prayer is thus inserted into the procession of the nations to God

    Hang on a sec, will you? Can somebody explain how it is that the priest, an alter Christus who “puts on Christ” in order to offer the sacrifice of His own body and blood, can be “facing Christ”? The priest, qua priest, is IN the role of mediator between God and man, because there is but one priesthood, that of Jesus Christ the one Mediator. The priest does not face the Mediator, the priest is in the very shoes of the Mediator. The priest is facing God the Father, isn’t he?

    I love Bishop Wall or any bishop who will take the mass seriously and will take the time to teach both the faithful and his priests. But, did he actually get this right?

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