Bishop of Gallup mandates Ad Orientem Celebration
  • NeilWeston
    Posts: 10
    I was most interested to see that the Bishop of Gallup has mandated the 11am Sunday Mass at his Cathedral to be celebrated Ad Orientem. His pastoral letter to the Diocese, which encourages parishes to do the same, is quite good.

    https://dioceseofgallup.org/celebrating-the-mass-ad-orientem/
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,258
    God Bless The Bishop of Gallup!!!!
  • Elmar
    Posts: 143
    I keep having an odd feeling about conflating "ad orientem" with "ad Deum", as if this is meant to imply that prayers in a celebration "versus populum" are somehow 'less' addressed to God.
    Of course praying together to the east is a strong symbol, underlining the 'vertical dimension' of the liturgy and avoiding that the 'horizontal dimension' becomes too dominant (which is often the case, unfortunately).

    Still the Eucharistic Prayer said "versus populum" is equally "ad Deum", for He is then really present on the altar.
  • stulte
    Posts: 243
    I keep having an odd feeling about conflating "ad orientem" with "ad Deum", as if this is meant to imply that prayers in a celebration "versus populum" are somehow 'less' addressed to God.
    Of course praying together to the east is a strong symbol, underlining the 'vertical dimension' of the liturgy and avoiding that the 'horizontal dimension' becomes too dominant (which is often the case, unfortunately).

    Still the Eucharistic Prayer said "versus populum" is equally "ad Deum", for He is then really present on the altar.


    Posts like these go a long way in confirming that I made a good decision "going trad" years ago. :)
  • MarkB
    Posts: 242
    @stulte There's nothing wrong with the Novus Ordo Mass celebrated reverently and in accord with Tradition. No need to "go trad" (not that there's anything wrong with it), but the Church is not going to "go trad" in large numbers so efforts should be concentrated on celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass worthily if the Church seeks to evangelize effectively.

    The Bishop of Gallup has taken a praiseworthy step. Already, though, he is being criticized by readers at PrayTell for being a southern border bishop who prioritizes liturgy over "social justice" for (illegal) immigrants, undermining Vatican II, and setting the wrong priorities for an overwhelmingly Latino diocese.

    Not to ignite a trad vs. Novus Ordo war here, but stulte's shot across the bow without explaining himself was uncalled for and he needs to be called on it.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,559
    the Church is not going to "go trad" in large numbers


    I think all of us are familiar with where the Church IS going in large numbers at the moment . . .

    I hope that I'm not putting words in the honorable Dr. Stulte's mouth, but his sentiment isn't so much one of superiority as it is one of humility. As Fr. Flood of the Fraternity once said, "We don't go to the Latin Mass because we're better than you; we go because we're weaker than you and we need all the help we can get." One of the beautiful things I've found about attending traditional worship is that you don't have to fret over issues like whether or not a certain liturgical position is emphasizing or demeaning the vertical orientation of our prayer. We just go and we pray. Us of a trad persuasion have enough troubles with scruples as is!

    As for the noxious diatribes masquerading as 'concerns' over at PrayTell, perhaps they should watch the following video, which addresses the concerns of both political and spiritual walls.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r0aPv93myA
    Thanked by 2tomjaw JacobFlaherty
  • pfreese
    Posts: 57
    Whoever’s blowing a fuse over Bishop Wall doing this in a border diocese really needs to buy a map. The southern border of the Gallup diocese is nearly 100 miles north of Mexico...
  • stulte
    Posts: 243
    My "shot across the bow" was not aimed at Bishop Wall or his decision. I completely support him celebrating Mass ad orientem and promoting it in his diocese. It was aimed at the contents of Elmar's post which, frankly, does gratuitously poke at the Bishop's letter and decision by implying that, essentially, there's no substantial difference between saying Mass ad orientem and versus populum. If that were so, there wouldn't be such controversy surrounding the question.

    As far as the comment that "the Church is not going to "go trad" in large numbers" is concerned, we can see that Sunday Mass attendance currently only includes a minority of the baptized regardless of Rite. So, I have to agree up to a point, but there's more to this question here. The largest group of critics of (if you'll pardon the phrase) "novus ordo Catholicism" consists of those who left the Church in the past 50 years. Their criticism being their non-practice of the Faith.

    Regardless, I hope and pray Bishop Wall stands firm in promoting Mass offered ad orientem in his diocese and that the practice spreads from his cathedral to every parish.
  • Not to ignite a trad vs. Novus Ordo war here, but stulte's shot across the bow without explaining himself was uncalled for and he needs to be called on it.


    If I could call Stulte on it, I would praise him for identifying one reason (among many) why people choose the older form, when it's available. The prayer itself may be directed to God, but if the priest is facing the people and, in so doing, putting his back to Christ in the Tabernacle, surely this is much worse than having his back to people whom he is not addressing? Sure, Christ is right there, in front of him on the altar (at least after the consecration) but the so-called Benedictine Arrangement is an acknowledgement of the fact that the crucifix can help the priest stay focused on his work, which help he needs because he can see the faces of the people all the time when he is facing them, unless he has such help.



    Thanked by 3tomjaw stulte Elmar
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,499
    There's nothing wrong with the Novus Ordo Mass celebrated reverently ...


    THIS is the problem... but it is not my problem, and this forum gives plenty of examples of the struggles that many of my colleagues and friends have organising music for the N.O. I have not been to the N.O. for over 20 years, my 8 children have never been, and I am forever grateful that I have been honoured with the task of help organise the music for the E.F.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    I hope he is really facing the geographic east, and not liturgical east, which is west called east by Latins with large imaginations.
    Thanked by 2StimsonInRehab Elmar
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Putting aside the antagonistic talk above, let me make a distinction about Elmar's observations, which I partly share, and partly differ with:
    Still the Eucharistic Prayer said "versus populum" is equally "ad Deum", for He is then really present on the altar.

    Along with Elmar, I'm not fond of the expression "ad Deum" either, although the good bishop uses it. Yes, it can be understood in the same sense as "ad orientem", but it also gives people the opportunity to overlook the basic focus in the "oriented" posture: expectation.

    I'm under the impression -- and those of you who know liturgical theology more than I do can correct this if it's wrong -- the concept of "ad orientem" isn't about God's presence *already here*.

    Some people seem to take "ad Deum" as though it referred to the Holy Eucharist on the altar during the Canon or in the tabernacle. But that would create a confusion: the Canon of the Mass and the Collects are addressed to God the Father, not to God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. If oriented worship were about paying attention to Christ already present in the Blessed Sacrament, then "ad orientem" would be irrelevant when the Eucharist is not already there, when Mass is celebrated before an empty tabernacle in the Easter Vigil, or when Mass is offered at a newly consecrated altar.

    To pray "ad orientem" is not about the "here-already": it's about the aspect of *transcendence*: that God is always above us, beyond us, and we have to seek, watch, pray, and wait for Him. It also emphasizes looking for His eschatological *coming*, and for this we are given the specific symbolism of the East, from which Christ shall come.
  • shawnk
    Posts: 40
    (deleted)
  • Chonak,

    Yes, I agree that an empty tabernacle highlights the fact that the prayer is to God the Father, and that an ad orientem posture sets up expectation rather than actualization (I think that's the right term). Nevertheless, there is also a purely practical aspect, as there often is, in these situations: facing the people becomes addressing the people, when the prayers aren't addressed to them.
    Thanked by 2chonak Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 100
    I keep having an odd feeling about conflating "ad orientem" with "ad Deum", as if this is meant to imply that prayers in a celebration "versus populum" are somehow 'less' addressed to God.

    Elmar, I must admit I have a genuinely difficult time believing that mass is directed to God the same way (or rather, with equal respect) when everyone in the sanctuary is bowing to the altar and putting up their butts to Our Lord in the tabernacle (which if funny considering the fact that Our Lord’s presence in the tabernacle was the reason to bow to the altar to begin with). We talk about “talking to God” whist simultaneously standing with our backs to Him! So, I respectfully agree that yes, versus populum is “addressed to God” but I cannot help but posit that it is inherently disrespectful. I’d be quite contented to never witness a versus populum mass (of any variety) ever again.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    If this is in a cathedral, many of them don't have a tabernacle to face anyway. It's somewhere else, often in a chapel.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 100
    Which is no less of an issue.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 100
    Two phrases come to mind:

    “Where have they taken my Lord?”
    “They have uncrowned Him.”
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,258
    There's nothing wrong with the Novus Ordo Mass celebrated reverently ...
    I think this will be proved dead wrong in time
  • nothing wrong


    Can we define the parameters by which we would know if something were wrong?

    Here are some ideas, which I mean as conversation starters.

    1) Before the Mass was in the vernacular, i.e., before there was what people call the Novus Ordo, Mass attendance in this country (USA) was 75%. Now it's 25%. Is this in any way the natural result of the change? If this form of the Mass turns people away from the sacraments and the magisterium, is this necessarily bad? [Christ did, after all, say, "Will you also leave?"]

    2) The Church grows organically. The Ordo of Paul VI is many things, but an organic growth from what came before isn't one of them. We might not see any bad results here, but wouldn't the Ordo of Paul VI still have something wrong with it because it didn't grow organically from what came before?

    3) Is the natural celebration of this form of the Mass reverent, or is the reverent celebration of this form an abnormality, not in practice, but in essence?
    By analogy, a saxophone can be played well or badly, but a saxophone doesn't really belong at Mass because of the provenance of the instrument itself. A chasuble can be green, red, black, purple, white or gold, but it doesn't therefore belong at a rainbow coalition event or a Gay Pride parade.

    4) When celebrated according to their own rules, Youth Masses are usually peopled by grey-haired folk older than I am. [Admittedly, I'm not an old geezer, but still, since I have a married son, I'm not a "youth" any more]. Is this because these old folk are supposed to be the youngest people in the church, or not?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Could we please get back to Bishop Wall's announcement, and put other things aside for the rest of this thread?

    After all, there are a thousand other threads in which people complain about the modern Roman Missal, and there's only one about this news item.

    He wrote some rather interesting things in his letter. Perhaps people could read it again (or for the first time) and see what's there.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen JL
  • This also means, in turn, that versus populum worship is extremely new in the life of the Church, and, while a valid liturgical option today, it still must be considered novel when it comes to the celebration of Mass.


    Thus, Bishop Wall.

    This is puzzling. He says, if can paraphrase, "EVEN THOUGH versus populum is extremely new in the life of the Church, it must be considered a novelty." and, I think "EVEN THOUGH it is a novelty, it is a valid liturgical option today."

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Can you look at it again? It's not as complicated as you make it out.

    (1) Versus populum is 'extremely new'.
    (2) Even though it's a valid option, it must be considered novel.

  • Chonak,

    Surely the logic of #2 is backwards: "Even though it's novel, it can be considered a valid option" makes more sense than "Even though it's a valid option, it must be considered novel".
  • Elmar
    Posts: 143
    Thank you all for your enlightening comments on my question!

    By no means I had the intention to attac the bishop on his brave (in terms of the present state of the church) decision. I am genuinely interested to learn.
    Thanks chonak and CGZ for pointing out that celebrating 'ad orientem' has little to do with the location of the tabernacle on a high altar.

    Admittedly I am biased by my first two (and a half) encounters with TLM comunities ... somehow these people were very efficient in creating the impression (maybe unintentionally, maybe not) that they considered 'our' way of being / trying to be Christians defective. This is why I was triggered by the equation 'ad orientem' = 'ad Deum'.

    The first encounter has been so off-putting that my wife still refused to join my attempts of 'going trad' twenty years later. In my refreshed enthousiasm I attended a TLM summer course, including training for celebrants/deacons/subdeacons/altar servers.
    I joined into our TLM group, but discovered to my dismay that at coffee after Mass there was a vivid exchange of pamphlets against communion on the hand, female altar servers - nothing wrong with fighting for one's convictions - but when I started asking questions like the one above, I was shut down by our good(!) pastor in order to 'not confuse' these people ... aaargh!

    Still in my choirs (and their respective parishes) I am the most traditional catholic as far as I can see ... but that might be more a statement about these parishes than about myself.
  • If ad orientem is preferable, I think it fair to ask why only one Mass at the Cathedral will be celebrated this way, and why encouragement only is given for the rest of the diocese to adopt this posture.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    One could ask that, and find out that, as a result, even less encouragement might be given. Because that's how Catholic prelates have often rolled, temperamentally in general, for centuries.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 242
    Because the good bishop is wise enough to know that you take baby steps in a matter like this, otherwise the modernist enemies of authentic liturgy will cynically decry the "return to pre-Vatican II" in the diocese, and Twitter, Facebook and scores of other platforms will be leveraged in an attempt to smear and pressure the bishop into backing down. Similarly, a wise pastor would not suddenly implement ad orientem at every Sunday Mass in his parish.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,821
    There is a certain very sad dynamic at work in this matter, and in the matter of music and liturgics in general. Namely, that one is wise to, as Mark says, take 'baby steps' when installing and instilling good music, good liturgy, and, especially (gasp!) ad orientem celebration. Baby steps, indeed! But it never seems to work the other way 'round, does it? If a parish or cathedral has good music, good liturgy, ad orientem, etc., a new priest or bishop needn't take anything close to 'baby steps' in abolishing it all by fiat in a matter of a few weeks. We hear of it all the time.

    No concern here is given for what the people may like or want - we simply fire the choirmaster and put in his or her place Mr or Mrs or Miss Happy-clappy Sacro-pop - and, voila! the change is immediate and cruel, and requires no baby steps or 'going slowly', nor any explanation*. There must be an explanation for this dynamic, one which just may have something to do with taste and preferences in our society at large - no matter how grotesque and fundamentally irreligious and irreverent they may be.

    *How, indeed, would one 'explain' or 'catechise' an aesthetic so shamelessly abominably irreligious?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    MJO

    Actually, it's not only one way. It just may seem that way to you and others because you're not in places where the other direction is likely to occur.
  • Paul Inwood wrote at PrayTell:

    I think that many people, now used to versus populum, see ad orientem as something anachronistic at best, rude at worst. “Why has the priest got his back to us?” is a frequently-heard comment. This, of course, is connected with the fact that all ministry is relational. It’s much more difficult to minister effectively to someone if you have no eye contact with them. People now instinctively realise this anthropological truth, and no amount of attempted justification will change that. Then there is the fact that the incarnation of liturgy that we have today is participatory in a way in which the previous incarnation of liturgy was not for many centuries. It is therefore entirely appropriate that the postures, gestures and orientation that we use reflect this reality. We are no longer passive spectators, looking on while someone else does everything for us in celebrating the sacred mysteries that are hidden from our view. I also think there can be a certain amount of unthinkingness associated with the desire to cling to a notionally eastward-facing position. The point is easily made on the occasion of a group photo. If one suggests an ad orientem photo, with everyone turning their backs to the camera, it becomes clear just how silly all this is.


    1,700 years of tradition must fold since we now have selfies. Makes sense to me!
  • Elmar
    Posts: 143
    Similarly, a wise pastor would not suddenly implement ad orientem at every Sunday Mass in his parish
    Exactly matches my experience. Our current pastor hosted the TLM group right from 2007, he had taken courses in traditional liturgy right after election of pope BXVI because he knew that 'something' was in the pipeline. He once told me (with a HUGE smile that I never saw again) that on the very day of publication of the motu proprio, he celebrated his first EF Mass, without even waiting vor the day that it took effect.

    Still, due to reproaches of "returning to pre-Vatican II" he waited another five years before he disclosed the existence of the local TLM group to the parish. To everyone's surprise, nothing happened. (Exept that I was first shocked, and just weeks later fascinated!)
    I doubt that this had gone smoothly in 2007, when he was new to the parish, not yet pastor, and re-introducing liturgical postures, altar bells, incense and such against a lot of resistance. Several EMHC left in protest when they were instructed to also(!) give Communion on the tongue. (Apparently this was not even part of EMHC formation!)

    Unfortunately, nothing whatsoever happened since (e.g. in terms of cross-inspiration between OF parish and EF group). It's more than four years ago that our pastor announced to the schola (Latin OF once a month since 2009) that he was dreaming of a Missa Cantata from time to time; but no follow-up.
  • the incarnation of liturgy that we have today is participatory in a way in which the previous incarnation of liturgy was not for many centuries. I


    What further need have we of witnesses?
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores dad29
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    somehow these people were very efficient in creating the impression (maybe unintentionally, maybe not) that they considered 'our' way of being / trying to be Christians defective.


    No, it was intentional. I have said, along with others, that I like that liturgy but don't like the people. They often are self-righteous jerks who are totally full of themselves.

    Not that I am any fan of facing the people - I am not - they should both be facing east. But if facing the people is so bad, what does the Pope face when saying mass at St. Peter's. Hmmm? Waiting for you to tell me popes have been wrong since the construction of the new building. Another case of being too hung up on externals.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 100
    Charles, it’s my understanding that there has been a centuries old insult for exceptional basilicas to face the people but I’m not sure why. If I’m not mistaken, however, this tradition at St. Peter’s well predates the council.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036

    Charles, it’s my understanding that there has been a centuries old insult for exceptional basilicas...


    Insult? I think you really didn't mean that.

    Gamber, in his monumental book, notes that the builders of the current building were forbidden to touch the area around the altar. The new building is not an exact match with the foundations of the old St. Peter's. That altar has stayed in the same place where it has been from the beginning. The building around it has changed causing the celebrant's orientation. Gamber notes also, that in the original building, priest and people faced east and the doors were flung open facing the sunrise. The people were not in front of the altar, but to the sides. I need to go back and read that book again since some parts of it are fading from my memory. If you haven't read it, it is well worth the time and effort.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,499
    The point is easily made on the occasion of a group photo. If one suggests an ad orientem photo, with everyone turning their backs to the camera, it becomes clear just how silly all this is.


    Yes and in any group photo of a 'Mass' (Inwood Mass) the Priest will have his back to the photographer while the congregation face him. As to how this works with those places in the round I cannot imagine.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    I was having a good day until you mentioned Inwood.

    Thanked by 3MarkB tomjaw dad29
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 760
    Another case of being too hung up on externals.

    If externals don't really matter that much, why are you debating about them?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    Externals can have gradations all the way from important to just mere fixations. Some of our friends in the more right wing groups can't seem to get past them. Can you have liturgy without externals? Probably without some of them. If father doesn't wear a biretta and the ladies don't wrap themselves in mantillas, the liturgy can go on just fine with little or no harm done. Externals would be fine, if those in attendance could see beneath them. Sometimes it really becomes just ritual for the sake of ritual.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,821
    Has anyone noticed that 'externals' are whatever the given speaker doesn't like?
    And conversely, that whatever the given speaker does like could never be an 'external'.

    Really! Some of All these people carrying on about 'externals' sound like Lutherans carrying on about adiaphora.
  • Sometimes it really becomes just ritual for the sake of ritual.


    Coming from an Easterner.....I guess this must be in purple? From what I know of the Orthodox and eastern Catholic liturgies is that they are much more intricate than their western counterparts.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    They are intricate - at least some of them are. Some eastern liturgies are rather simple. We all have externals to one degree or another. It's when the externals become the focus rather than an accessory the problems occur. When people in the congregation become obsessed with things and ritual actions, yet have little understanding of the theology and intent behind those things and actions, it becomes an issue. It happens and I have seen it more than I would have liked.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Charles,

    You must know only Roman Rite Catholics who know nothing. (Cue Sargeant Schultz?) Such people exist, probably, but in my experience they're less common in traditional circles than in modernist ones.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    My worst experiences with Trads is they hate Jews, science and the new mass. Those are the sources of all evil in the world. They don't care much for Democrats or gays, either. They are shaky about the history of their own rite, knowing even less about anyone else's. They are a sullen and angry group who view themselves as some kind of remnant that will gain first place in heaven. If they put their time and energies on real problems they could make a significant difference in the world.

    Fortunately, they are not all like that, thank goodness! The one's in my area who came from a now defunct irregular chapel in another part of the state are some of the most horrid, insufferable people you could ever meet. Fortunately, like the convert story where he moves to a high mountain because the rest of the church is corrupt, these folks are moving away to keep more to themselves and away from nearness to Novus Ordo influences. The remaining Trads are quite nice and totally different. I actually like them.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • With St. Augustine, allow me to conclude with this heartfelt prayer: in our worship, hearts, and lives, “let us turn towards the Lord God and Father Almighty, and with a pure heart let us give Him sincere thanks as well as our littleness will allow…. May He increase our faith, rule our mind, give us spiritual thoughts, and at last lead us to His blessedness, through Jesus Christ His Son. Amen.”


    It seems to me that Bishop Wall asserts here that the change in posture will allow (but not force) us to grow in faith, govern our mind, accept spiritual thoughts, and be led to Heaven.

    I can't escape the question: if this is the desire of every right thinking Catholic, why "pastorally" allow the other posture to continue? Is this (perhaps) a nod to "go very slowly"?
  • pfreese
    Posts: 57
    “If this is the desire of every right thinking Catholic, why ‘pastorally’ allow the other posture to continue? Is this (perhaps) a nod to ‘go very slowly’?”

    Because it is explicitly permitted, and in fact encouraged, according to the Church’s rubrics in GIRM 299: “The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.” For a bishop to outright ban this practice would be equivalent to banning the propers at mass or communion on the tongue, and we all know how people around here think about priests and bishops who play fast and loose with the rubrics...
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • "Which is desirable wherever possible" is, probably, a misplaced modifier. There is precedent.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 760
    Externals can have gradations all the way from important to just mere fixations.

    I guess the trick is seeing which are which - which was exactly my point.

    When people in the congregation become obsessed with things and ritual actions, yet have little understanding of the theology and intent behind those things and actions, it becomes an issue. It happens and I have seen it more than I would have liked.

    I guess my experience is just about the opposite - that people dismiss things and ritual actions as "mere externals" with lilttle understanding the theology and intent behind those things and actions. It happens and I have seen it more than I would have liked.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    Re. St. Peter's and other Roman basilicas. There is no indult to "face the people", as no indult is needed. The Pope does, and always has, celebrated Mass ad Orientem at the high altar of the basilica---the door is at the East end, the apse in the West; therefore, the Pope prays ad Orientem, versus populum; rather than the more common ad Orientem, versus apsidem. Believe it or not, there are rubrics for this manner of celebration in the old missals, very few know about them because very few would ever need to celebrate or serve Mass at the high altar of a Roman basilica.

    The baldachino over the altar (in the original building) also used to have curtains that were closed during the canon...very Eastern!
    Thanked by 2Elmar Joseph Michael
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,036
    The baldachino over the altar (in the original building) also used to have curtains that were closed during the canon...very Eastern!


    Curtains and a wall around the "Holy of Holies" in the original building. How long since anyone has heard a sanctuary called that?