Monday, June 19, 2006


Shawn Tribe's post at NLM can make you think on certain terminologies. "...They can either re-enforce truth or they can potentially distort it." That is, of course, dependent on which point of view you're looking at things.

Same thing goes for the terms ad Orientem and versus populum. Of course, ad Orientem (to the East) on one front means facing the Lord with everybody else, while the other front tries to downplay it by saying "the priest has his back to the people". A similar situation with versus populum (facing the people). One front will take it as a positive: the priest's dialog face-to-face with the people, while the other front will say "the altar has become a stage". In the case of the latter, I've known many a priest over my quarter-century as an organist who have done just that - turn the altar into a stage.

Read on. It's an excellent read. Also, check out Diane's Te Deum Laudamus blog. You can usually find a good share of photos of Mass at Assumption Grotto in Detroit - Novus Ordo Missa done ad Orientem, with class!



Valerie said...

I only had time to read a smidgeon of Shawn's article and I have mixed feelings regarding the issue. I'm sure I'm not alone in my feelings as one growing up in the post-Vatican II church. I never have experienced a Mass where the priest faced Ad Orientem.

As I grow older, though, I have become very tired of priests who have turned the altar into a stage, making *themselves* the center of attention, rather than Christ who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. To lessen this distraction for myself, what I have done recently is close my eyes during the Eucharistic Prayer, looking up only during the elevation of the Body and Blood (harder to do when the little ones are at Mass with me).

It was a blessing recently to attend a Mass where the priest really took his time during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, trying to make himself as unobtrusive as possible so that Christ would be center stage. One thing he did that struck me was elevating the Body and Blood for a significant period of time.

That part of the Mass was beautiful, almost sublime. Sadly, the music choices for the day bordered on absurd. At one moment, we are centered properly on Christ's True Presence, then the choir sang a song all about "us" as we received His Body and Blood. ::sigh:: It's easy to close one's eyes to shut out visual distractions, but it's really hard to shut down your ears!

Brian Michael Page said...

I got into a nasty tiff with a lady on one message board over music choices - she kept trying to contend that the Ave Verum wasn't appropriate for "Sunday Eucharist" (too afraid to say "Holy Mass", I guess, but anyhoo), to which I basically said (in not so many words) BULLS**T! It's that contention that if it doesn't invoke the "us factor" that it's assumed to be an "adoration hymn".

I stuck to my guns and used the Mozart Ave Verum during Communion at the choir Mass. To boot, we did the Lambillotte Panis Angelicus at the Offertory during non-choir Masses, while the choir at their Mass sang the Franck Panis.

As for ad orientem, I did have four really good years experience as a schola director for a Tridentine Mass. However, I've never seen, except for the pics on Diane's blog and some pics from St. Agnes in St. Paul MN, a Missa Normativa done ad orientem. But it's proof enough that it CAN be done.