The new normal
As we gently ease ourselves back into the new normal, I have been contemplating my own journey during this lockdown. Being without the congregation I started to celebrate Mass always “Ad Orientem” (facing our Lord), as it was more natural (the Roman Missal normally allows both ways, but if the priest is on his own it gives different instructions). I have read a lot about the meaning of direction at Holy Mass. Benedict XVI’s book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” has helped me. The Head of the Vatican Congregation for Liturgy, Cardinal Sarah, has also been encouraging priests to say Mass Ad Orientem over the last few years, and his words have also been important to me. During the five months of the lockdown period I prayed in that way and the logic of it captured my heart.
When the priest is offering the sacrifice at the altar, of course he is never truly “facing the people”, as he is praying to God and not to them! But it is very special when the priest and the people are even physically all facing in one direction of worship, so that with our eyes we are together looking to God, in a joint prayerful gaze. This is also what we have inherited from the first generations of Christian’s, when everyone would face to the east together at these most important moments of prayer.
I have had very positive feedback from many parishioners who are finding comfort in this way of celebrating Mass, but it is important that we also have Masses in the other way, as each way has its place. That mean’s we will maintain one Sunday Mass facing congregation. There is also a desire in people for the “Extraordinary Form” Latin Mass (Missal of John XXIII) and I will continue this on Mondays (we have about 20 people coming at the moment).
You can see the Mass times for when they are “Ad Orientem”.
I pray to God for each one of us daily at Holy Mass and Rosary. I also thank each one of you who has asked after me and has supported me with your prayers.