Whenever you make a change in a parish that is of some substance, it is important that your prepare the ground by teaching, teaching and more teaching. This year, beginning with the Easter Vigil, my parish went to “ad orientem” celebration of the Holy Mass. I had prepared the parish through a number of bulletin inserts. I had talked about it in a number of my homilies and our daily Mass has been “ad orientem” for a few years. So, overall, the people were prepared. You always have someone among the mix who doesn’t read the bulletin or are not open to change no matter how well you explain your case.
I receive a letter yesterday from someone who was visiting family in the parish. This woman never heard any of my explanations or read any of my bulletin inserts. This is part of her letter:
“I wanted to also share with you my experience attending Mass at your parish. I had never participated in a Mass ad orientem, and I am still reflecting on how much different it is than what we have now. I would not have believed if someone told me that Mass would be much more prayerful – totally focused on God rather then the actions of the priest. It’s as if when not facing the priest, you can actually visualize your prayers being offered to God through the priest to Heaven. Everything becomes prioritized or aligned – the congregation, the priest, Christ on the Cross to Heaven. It is difficult to put it all in words….”
So the experience of “ad orientem” by someone who never had an explanation. She got it. She understood what “ad orientem” is all about and in it, what the Mass is all about. I want to challenge my brother Priests to study the Liturgical teachings of Benedict XVI and put them into practice.