ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Prelates and priests are backing the wishes of Cdl. Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to restore ad orientem liturgy — plans that Bp. Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin affirms are "according to the mind of God."
One of those prelates responding to the call for God-centered worship is Bp. René Gracida, the retired bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas.
In a new video promoting ad orientem liturgy, Gracida notes, "When the priest speaks to the people he should look at them and speak to them. When the priest speaks to God he should look at the crucifix on the rear wall."
Clerics and laity make many points in the video for having the priest along with the peope face liturgical east while offering Mass. But Bp. Gracida gets right to the point. "A priest celebrates less worthily when his whole attention is focused on the congregation," His Excellency noted. "He is much more recollected, much more spiritually involved in what he is doing when he is consecrating the Host ad orientem."
At a conference last week in Rome, Cdl. Raymond Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, backed Cdl. Sarah.
I agree with him completely. … [T]he priest is at the head of the congregation, he's acting in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, offering this worship to God, and so all of us are facing the Lord. He's not turning his back on anybody. … [T]he priest, as our spiritual father, is leading us in this worship to lift our minds and hearts to God.
Bishop Dominique Rey of the diocese of Frejus-Toulon in France was the first prelate to announce he would restore ad orientem liturgy by Advent, as requested by Cdl. Sarah. Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska is already offering Mass facing east.
Bishop Gracida is encouraging people to approach their pastors prayerfully with the request to offer Mass facing the tabernacle.
First of all pray: Ask God to inspire their bishop, inspire their pastor. Secondly, they can speak to their pastor and tell them they would welcome ad orientem. If enough people in a parish tell the pastor that they're not afraid of it, they would welcome it; the pastor would get up enough courage to do it.