People Look East

From a young reader of the Sunday Bulletin of The Church of the Epiphany, 1900 111th Ave NW – Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Hi, my name is ___, a freshman at [a local public] High School. Earlier this year I was extremely blest to attend the Steubenville Youth Conference with Epiphany. We learned and did a lot. I have to say, one thing really stood out to me was on the last day when we stopped at The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. At the shrine they celebrated Mass ad orientem. It was something that really struck me; it brought up a lot of questions and also changed the focus of the Mass. Ad orientem Mass is a way of celebrating Mass where the priest faces the East rather than the people. Ad orientem comes from the Latin word, oriens, which means “the rising sun.” Jesus himself was the rising sun. He brings about all new things and life itself, just as the sun brings life to us. Celebrating the Mass ad orientem was almost universal before Vatican II. Vatican II did not call for ad orientem to stop all together, but aimed to bring the people closer to celebrate the Mass. But celebrating the Mass ad orientem truly does change the focus of the Mass. It takes the focus off the priest and puts it on the celebration of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is different than how we would usually celebrate Mass today. So, it brings about a different way of thinking and understanding the origins of the Mass and the way it was traditionally celebrated. Celebrating the Mass ad orientem also hits the younger generations. When we stopped at the Shrine on our way home, the Mass seemed different. The group all seemed involved with the Mass and a lot less distracted than we usually were (which interested me because we had a pretty talkative group). During the whole Mass it felt different. I was focused, not the usual for my wandering mind; it focused my thoughts on the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus. I think celebrating the Mass ad orientem at Epiphany would be a good addition because of the way it brings people into the celebration of the Mass. While it will be different and would need some explaining, it would be a great addition to the parish and its Masses. Ad orientem is a way to bring the congregations focus closer on Jesus himself truly in the Eucharist at Mass.