16 February 2011

Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem Mass

Celebrated by Fr. Thomas Keller on June 14, 2007 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.


Kansas Catholic said...

As I tell Canon A. whenever the topic comes up, "It was a spectacular day." And it was, the irony of your photo adding its own unlikely--but poignant--testimony.

Anonymous said...

What was the occasion, or does Fr. Keller always do this? This is nice to see.

Fenian said...

Mary of Victories has the Ordinary Form in Latin, celebrated Ad Orientem, every Sunday. The daily mass is the Extraordinary Form.

Anonymous said...

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers ...'


thetimman said...

I don't know what Fr. Keller's normal practice is in regard to ad orientem Masses. The Mass in the photo was celebrated ad orientem because the altar was already set up for the ICRSP ordinations (a photo of which is always visible at the bottom of this blog) that occurred in the Extraordinary Form on June 14, 2007. A momentous day, as they were the first traditional ordinations in the Cathedral of Saint Louis in more than thirty-five years, and an early sign of the good things to come following the motu proprio confirming the right to say and attend the traditional Mass.

I took the photo of Fr. Keller's Mass because at the time, everyone who wasn't keen on the TLM but who had some sense of liturgical history would often remark in comboxes that the novus ordo could be celebrated ad orientem, and in Latin. But it was kind of like the Bigfoot, oft-spoke of, never really seen.

So, when I had a chance to get evidence in a grainy photograph, I took it. I was there for that Mass, and indeed, as KC says, the usual noon Mass-goers were visibly perplexed. I thought it was very cool. KC had mentioned this Mass in his book, and posted such in the combox for my last post, so I posted the photo here.

Fr. Keller (a great priest, btw), has been known to celebrate the TLM; for the Carmelite DCJs for instance, and last Lent he had a daily TLM at his parish of St. Angela Merici. Like I said, I don't know what his private Masses are (if he has any with his schedule) or his normal daily routine is.

It would be great if Archbishop Carlson would send a pastoral letter encouraging the practice of ad orientem worship, for those priests who can't or won't say the Extraordinary Form, despite their right to do so. But, of course, he has his own priorities and has not really sought my advice--and who can blame him. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Well, unfortunately the Extraordinary Form in this Archdiocese, especially at the Parish level (and one might argue at many significant diocesan levels), is not only marginalized, but held in contempt. Perhaps though there is that ray of hope a pastoral document would be penned encouraging the practice of ad orientem worship as you describe. Realistically, I don't think we will be seeing that coming from His Grace anytime soon.

Thomas said...

Hey Timman, Thanks for the nice words and the grainy photo that gives me a larger that-life-persona, like that shot of the Lock Ness Monster. I'm flattered that my backside gets to be the flagship for Ad Orientem worship around here but I just feel blessed to be able to offer Holy Mass. It doesn't really matter too much to me which direction the priest faces as long as Triune God is our only desire and the sole object of worship. Sometimes I feel like that's even more rare than a sighting of Nessie herself. -Father Keller

thetimman said...

Father Keller,

Thanks for the comment. I'm not making you the poster-priest for ad orientem, though I am highlighting my photographic skill.

As far as the rarity of God being the object of our worship at Mass, I take your point, but I must add that ad orientem worship just might make the proper focus far less rare.

While we're at it, all broadway-wannabe cantors ought to be forced to face the altar, too. And nix the showtunes. But, that's another post.

Athelstane said...

Hello Fr. Keller,

With all due respect and kindness (and I do mean that sincerely), I think it *does* matter which direction mass is celebrated, and this does not detract from your excellent point that the privilege to celebrate the Holy Mass is a true blessing (and that the Triune God as our sole desire and object of worship is too rare a thing). Celebrated properly, it is the same Lord, body, blood, soul and divinity being made real in the Eucharist whichever direction (or form) in which mass is celebrated.

Rubrics do matter, and there were excellent reasons why, for most of its history, the Roman Rite (and indeed pretty much all of the Eastern Rites) has been celebrated ad orientem - and therefore, I humbly suggest, why a return to it is perhaps the most important rubrical reform we can make in restoring reverence to the mass. While the internal direction of liturgical action can never be expressed in its totality by external forms, it does make a difference, as Uwe Michael Lang has noted in his recent work, Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer, as well as Pope Benedict XVI in The Spirit of the Liturgy.

But having said that, I merely wish to say I am grateful to you for this exercise, and I hope you will fell persuaded to do so again in the future. Thank you again for all your services to the Church.

Thomas said...

Dear Athelstane,

I'm sure my friends who read StL Catholic just shot coffee through their noses in disbelief when they read your post reminding me (of all priests) "rubrics do matter," given I've got more than a small reputation for dwelling on these kinds of things.

Kidding aside, isn't it a sort of a chicken and egg thing? Will our hearts turn to the Lord because we face liturgical "east" or will we face "east" when we finally turn to the Father?

Regardless, I think statistics speak for themselves: when we place ourselves at the center of attention at Mass a majority of the laity figure they don't need Christ or His sacraments and they lapse from the practice of the true Faith. And why not? the secular world or non-demoninational protestant "worship" offers the same me-centered thing much more effectively. Hence we've seen the tremendous decline in participation in the sacraments. What is it, only 23% still participate on Sunday - a minimal criteria for calling oneself a practicing Catholic? Athelstane, I agree ad orientem liturgy would go a long way in saying we are serious about restoring reverence, but I also know the human heart can stray even when pointed in the right direction.

And thanks for the kind encouragement, but here's my dilemma: although Lang's work is great, and Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy settles for a crucifix on the altar (which I do); neither are recognized as authoritative texts. Without authoritative confirmation (or re-confirmation for those who have already read the rubrics) that indeed, priests have been facing the wrong way thanks to the speculation of the liturgical movement of early 20th century, I would be just another priest in a long line of priests who for 40 years who has been "doin' his own thing." So, again, I'm just happy to be able to offer Holy Mass (in either form and on either side of an altar) and I'm waiting patiently for whatever the Church clarifies along the way. Meanwhile, I believe we need to turn our minds and hearts to the God we cannot see but has revealed through our High Priest, Jesus Christ.
-Father Keller

thetimman said...

Father Keller,

If you insist on continuing to use that type of thoughtful and measured language, you'll have to give up posting on blogs.

You've been warned!

Kansas Catholic said...

Or he could start his own blog? Or does he have one and . . . I am unaware?

Father, did we meet at the Benedictines of Mary event in May 2010, sharing space in the small room of the St. Joseph side of the altar. If so, take care.