"ad orientem and versus populum"

Fr. Bloom:

Thanks very much for posting your homilies and bulletin on-line for people on the other side of the continent to read. I just read your Feb 25 Homily and it was excellent.

I also looked at your bulletin announcement for a bit. I was intrigued to find your brief discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger's new Book The Spirit of the Liturgy. I had heard a bit about this book before, and even read an excerpt from Chapter 3 where the ad orientem and versus populum mass "directions" were discussed.

My questions are as follows: Is this book worthwhile owning? I see it advertised on amazon. Also, (purely speculative question here) is there a momentum for further liturgical reform present in the church? What direction is it headed? Lastly (get out the crystal ball) when will these changes start taking place? Maybe I should read the book instead of asking you.

I haven't written to you in a while: maybe you remember me from about a year ago...I asked a bunch of tough questions. I think we discussed the Christ-centered/people centered Mass a bit. One additional observation in this vein: lots of priests seem sub-consciously determined to "get on the same side" of the altar as the people. I see this a lot at small masses where the priest invites the people to come up and stand around the altar with him. I also see it at Sunday mass where the altar platform seems packed with ministers and other folks all standing on the same side of the altar as the priest. Seems to me like we could get the whole congregation up there, or, conversely, move the priest back around to the other side of the altar and accomplish the same thing.

One more question: is it lonely up there saying mass with everyone looking at you?

Thanks a lot,

David C. Clippinger

P.S. Check "Amazing priests" at Catholic-Pages.com You're there! [Don't let it go to your head :)]


Dear David,

Thank for the email and encouraging words. I highly recommend Spirit of the Liturgy. It's an amazing book. I'll be quoting some sections of it for our lenten bulletins. It is helpful not only for priests, but for laity to deepen their participation in the Mass.

I don't exactly feel lonely celebrating Mass, but am sometimes concerned that facial expressions, gestures, etc. will distract people from worship. While ad orientam would not be my top priority, it would give the celebrant more freedom to himself enter into worship without worrying how he is "coming across."

Have a good Lent, David. God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

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