The Ordinary Form of the Mass Celebrated “ad orientem” not so often in the Manchester, New Hampshire, diocese

The Ordinary Form of the Mass Celebrated “ad orientem” [not so often in the Manchester, New Hampshire, diocese]

By Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, New Hampshire

[Limiting/undermining Cardinal Sarah’s “Reform of the Reform” proposal for the Novus Ordo Mass, implying Pope Francis’ attitude toward the traditional Latin Mass as something “exceptional” and “nostalgic” and questioning a priest who may desire ad orientem possibly for having a “rigid,” “defensive,” “insecure,” and/or “fundamentalist” mentality. Nonetheless, the bishop allows the traditional Latin Mass (ad orientem) at two parishes for Sunday High Mass: St. Patrick’s in Nashua and St. Joseph’s in Claremont – as well as all Masses at the St. Benedict Center in Richmond and occasional Masses at Thomas More College in Merrimack and Northeast Catholic (formerly Magdalen) College in Warner. Both colleges offer all or most of their Novus Ordo Masses (Latin and English) ad orientem. Bishop Libasci has allowed the Fraternal Society of St. Peter to staff a formerly closed parish (St. Stanislaus in Nashua) with Sunday and weekday TLMs. Ironically His Excellency has bi-ritual faculties for the Byzantine rite, whose Divine Liturgy (Mass) is always offered ad orientem!]

On July 5, 2016 Cardinal Robert Sarah, in speaking with priests during a retreat conference,spoke of the Holy Season of Advent being an opportune time for those priests in attendance to begin celebrating Mass “ad orientem”. On July 11, 2016 the Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S.J. issued a statement declaring that there were no new liturgical directives being issued from the Vatican in this regard.

As some of you know, I have on a few occasions publically celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass “ad orientem”. Celebrating Mass “ad orientem” in the Ordinary Form means that the priest stands at the altar facing the same direction together with the people from the Preparation of the Gifts until the Communion Rite turning to the people when indicated by the rubrics. After some discussion I did support the proposal of one priest to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass “ad orientem” in one of our local churches with the understanding that it would be done with proper catechesis. Even though the Ordinary Form of the Mass may be celebrated “ad orientem” the norm since the Second Vatican Council has been to celebrate this form of the Mass “versus populum” (facing the people).

My expectation is that our priests will continue to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass “versus populum”. I would not expect or encourage a priest in our Diocese to begin celebrating Mass “ad orientem” at parish Masses without having a personal, in-depth conversation with me.

Even though there are many options in the Roman Missal some options do need and continue to be properly explained and implemented in order for the faithful to enter more deeply and participate more fully in the Church’s Liturgy.

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