Let’s Talk Ad Orientem

I’m trying to figure out what the liberals know that we don’t, because the hysteria has been turned up a notch or two in the past couple of months. First the word “schismatic” has been batted around like a beach ball, and now they’re trying to whip people into a frenzy about bishops and priests going “ad orientem” for their Masses, which is very literally much ado about nothing (other than liturgical accuracy). 

I’ve had more than one church my area (the very liberal San Francisco Bay Area) go “ad orientem” and guess what? The churches are still standing, pews are still full, and nobody has died because the priests have chosen to face God when talking to him!  Nobody has left the church a blubbering mess, not even the occasional visitor. No nervous breakdowns have occurred. Now, maybe some of this happened to people who don’t even attend these churches, but honestly, what is the big stinking deal?

Personally, I think the Pew Research poll on the Real Presence backfired on them. People are starting to acknowledge that there is a real problem of belief, but we’re not supposed to know about it. It’s been the proverbial game of “hide the football.” They didn’t want anyone to notice that reality. We’re just supposed to look at all of the happy-clappy people in the pews who show up when they feel like it and call it good. Their fruit has been outed and it’s rotten to the core. They’ve managed to make a good percentage of the people in the pews protestant in belief, and the people who do believe but hadn’t a clue are starting to take notice. 

The lack of belief in the Real Presence is why priests and bishops are starting to take a look at what we can do to bring that belief back. Naturally, acting as God exists is a big start. That’s the point of things like “ad orientem,” kneeling to receive Our Lord, chant, silence, etc., etc., etc.

They’ve had plenty of great little visual aid cartoons lately on “ad orientem,” but the cries of “The priest is turning his back on us! Woe to us!” seem to work a little better.

Dear laity, they’re trying to con you. They think you have no brain and you can’t think this through, which just makes it extra annoying to me. Seriously. They all think you are so childish you can’t put two and two together. So, let me try explaining just one more time to someone who might be swayed by the old “Those mean old priests just want to turn their backs on us!” argument. Maybe you know someone swayed by this. If so, pass this along. Maybe my very dumbed down mind will work for them. It just doesn’t seem that hard.

Let’s say that you’re at dinner with your friends and Jack is on your left and Jill is on your right. When you address Jill do you look at Jack? That would be kind of weird, no?  (All while looking at Jack) “Hey Jill, what color lipstick is that? It looks great on you!”  Of course, you wouldn’t.

Now let’s say you had a present for Jill, and Jack and Jill are sitting with you. Would you hand that present to Jack and say “Here, Jill”?  Again, all things being equal, you would not. Now let’s apply this to the “ad orientem” posture for the Mass.

First of all, if you’ve never been to an “ad orientem” Mass, the priest is not facing away from you the entire Mass. I realize that this is an allusion that the liberals are trying to put forth because the truth hurts – them.  Just like when you’re having dinner with Jack and Jill, you look at Jill when you’re talking to her, and you look at Jack when you’re talking to him. There’s a natural back and forth, and so it is with an “ad orientem” Mass.  The priest switches back and forth looking at the person he is addressing at the time. Sometimes he is addressing us and sometimes he is addressing God. When he’s talking to us, he’s facing us. When he’s talking to God, he’s facing God. Does this sound like some horribly nefarious plot to exclude you from anything?  Geez.

Now where does my gift example come in? The Eucharist is sacrifice to God. Very good read from a very good Jesuit (See? I like some of them. May he rest in peace).  http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/link/e-litur.html Again, when I give a present to Jill, I don’t hand it to Jack and say, “This is for you, Jill!” Does that offend you for some strange reason? Same deal. It’s all about God at that point, not us. The priest faces the Tabernacle (you know, that place where Christ is physically) and the crucifix(which the smart people call Liturgical East), both of which should be front and center in a church (yeah, a whole other debate). He’s not offering a sacrifice to us, because, well, that would be wrong. Can we agree on that? Who is the priest addressing when he says:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the wine we offer you:
fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
it will become our spiritual drink.

Is this addressed to the laity? Nope.

So, as you can see, “ad orientem” is just logical positioning between a priest and who he’s addressing or offering something to at a particular time in the Mass. And the big flippin’ deal is? Joke’s on you. There is none.

Just so you know, I attend the Ordinary Form almost every Mass. When I’m not there I’m at the Extraordinary Form. So, basically, 50ish Sundays out of the year, the Mass I’m attending is “ad orientem.” I’ve not spontaneously combusted yet, nor have I felt slighted by it.  In fact, I asked for it for many years. Why? Because I heard about it, looked into it, and after reading my little old missalette, it made perfect sense. Seriously, just look at the missal for the Ordinary Form. It’s not all addressed to me or you. I’ll make it easy for you, in case your parish has somehow crazily re-worded large parts of the Mass with gender neutral crud, etc., and doesn’t want you to see what’s approved: http://ibreviary.com/m/messale.php?s=ordinario&id=22

I’m not going to post links to all of the lame articles on why “ad orientem” is so offensive because, well, they’re really stupid and a big old lie. I will post the explanation from Bishop James Wall, Diocese of Gallup, since he’s the latest one who’s taking flack:

 https://dioceseofgallup.org/celebrating-the-mass-ad-orientem/

Please note, he’s not suggesting the Mass be in Latin or be “the old Mass.” This is what keeps the liberals up at night. Oh, the horror! Don’t fall for the scare tactics. Again, a whole other topic. I’m reasonably sure that most good-hearted people can do a little research and find that “ad orientem” isn’t the boogieman under your bed waiting to take all you love away from you. It’s probably going to make sense. The only thought the priests and bishops going “ad orientem” have is to make the Real Presence real again!