A Message from Father David
Dear Family of St. Mary, Mother of the Church Parish,
It is my desire to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each Sunday during Advent and Lent ad orientem. This literally means toward the east. In previous times all Catholic Churches were built with the congregation facing east. For it is from the East that Our Lord and Savior will return, so we daily search the eastern horizon in hopeful anticipation. Regretfully, St. Mary’s was built facing west. But there is such a thing as liturgical east. This should be our state of mind rather than merely physical direction.
In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI states:
“a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer.”
The priest, in the person of Christ, leads us to God the Father. Our focus is squarely on our Lord during the Eucharistic Prayer. This is “essential”. It should be no surprise that a priest would like his focus to be squarely on our Lord too.
We are praying together, toward the Lord who comes. Think of how it works during Eucharistic Adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In most parishes, the priest faces the same direction as the people, particularly during the Divine Praises. Similarly, many parishes pray the St. Michael the Archangel prayer together immediately after Mass.
We as Catholics do not need to fear our traditions. While it is perfectly acceptable and valid to have Mass said versus populum, or toward the people, we do have to admit that such a practice is still relatively novel. We have a rich liturgical patrimony, in both the Latin Rite and Byzantine Rite.
As we can see, ad orientem worship is not something just for Eastern Catholics, but for all Catholics. This common orientation helps us to turn our focus back to God. As our Lord Jesus tells us:
“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27)
We turn our faces toward him in hopeful expectation.
It is my own hope that we all can take the opportunity to get more in touch with the Church’s traditions and liturgical practices, because they are certainly something to be retained and cherished, instead of derided. Facing toward the East during Mass, whether it be in the Ordinary Form, Extraordinary Form, or the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, is one of those holy traditions filled with deep meaning and significance.
I ask God to bless you all abundantly in this penitential season of Advent, as you prepare for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas and, more importantly, at the end of time.
Yours faithfully in the Holy Name,
Fr. David M Chiantella
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La oficina parroquial está abierta de lunes a jueves de 9 a.m. a 4:30 p.m. y los lunes y martes por la noche de 6 p.m. a 8:30 p.m. Nosotras estamos cerradas del 25 al 29 de noviembre.