PHOTO: Mass of St. John of Matha by Juan Carreño de Miranda, 1666 [Louvre, Paris]
By Fr. Gerald E. Murray, The Catholic Thing, August 17, 2017
It has been one year since our parish changed over to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass facing the liturgical East. My decision to switch to ad orientem was prompted by Cardinal Sarah’s encouragement of the return to this ancient practice of the Church.
The reception of this change by parishioners has been largely positive. Visitors attending Mass naturally remark upon it, expressing in general surprise but only occasional dissatisfaction. Some remark that they are happy to participate in the Mass as they remember it from their childhood. The priests of the parish (and most visiting priests) have found this change to be a great improvement that promotes a prayerful and recollected celebration of Mass.
Cardinal Sarah spoke again recently about the celebration ad orientem in a conference published in the French magazine La Nef (July-August 2017). He said:
To be oriented towards God is before all else an interior action, a conversion of our soul towards the one God. The liturgy should foster in us this conversion towards the Lord who is the Way, the Truth, the Life. To do this it uses signs, simple means. The celebration [of Mass] ad orientem is part of this. It is one of the treasures of the Christian people that permit us to preserve the spirit of the liturgy. The oriented celebration should not become the expression of a partisan and polemical attitude. On the contrary, it should be the expression of the most intimate and essential movement of all liturgy: turning ourselves towards the Lord who comes.