Bishop Morlino gave another killer catechetical homily this last Sunday on the need for ad orientem in worship.
While you’re at it, join the spiritual bouquet, and pray for him!
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them
Edited: more photos added at the bottom.
[The first reading] says, “look to the east and see your children gathered” meaning the children, the saints, of the new and heavenly Jerusalem. […] The essence of waiting is waiting with your whole heart and soul. You’re turned in the direction that is that which you’re waiting for. And that gives your waiting a sure and certain hope, a beautiful hope. The prophet says “Look to the east.” Look toward heaven. Look toward the heavenly Jerusalem. And John the Baptist repeats the prophet in another place, saying: “Every valley will be made lifted up, every mountain will be leveled, and a straight way will be made to heaven so that all flesh will see the salvation of God.
Our advent waiting is a full intent directed waiting. Just as I look for dad up the street to make that turn around the [corner after work], so too we are looking to the east.
We have to be people who concretely, physically, look to the east. Now clearly, that doesn’t mean nobody can go to work or school tomorrow, because we’re going go spend the day looking toward the east. Our great opportunity to look east is here at the liturgy.
Pope Benedict says over and over again that to look toward the east means to turn toward the Lord. And that’s why it’s so important to have the crucifix front and center, both for the priest and for the people.
Because during Mass, I’m supposed to be looking toward the east, toward heaven. I’m not supposed to be trying to entertain you, or hold your attention in some way. I’m supposed to be looking toward the east. So it’s good that the crucifix is right there, so that I can’t see the people clearly, nor can they see me clearly. They’re not looking at me, the priest. They’re looking at Jesus Christ, the high priest, toward the east.
The crucifix on the altar, a big one, is not an obstruction. It’s there to help us live the very basics of our faith, including advent, which means looking toward the east, which is turning toward the Lord. And when we look at the crucifix, you from your side, I from my side, we’re all turned toward the Lord.
And I’m sure that the day will come when we will turn toward the Lord together, in even a more full way when we all face east, when we all turn toward the Lord in the same direction. And when we do that, that’s not the priest turning his back on the people, it’s the priest directing the people to look toward the east, to obey the prophetic word, to believe how concrete, real, physical and visible Jesus Christ was and is. How concrete, real, physical and visible is the last coming, from the east.
The east matters. It matters a lot. That’s why the creator gave us the sunrise from the east to remind us that from there, comes the light, who is Christ.
As we behold the flesh and blood of Christ, in the sacramental sign of the Eucharist, we are turned toward the east, as Jesus comes to use here in mystery, to remind ourselves that our whole life is an eager, prayerful waiting for him to come in majesty, waiting for him to come from the east, turning toward the Lord.
Listen to the whole homily here, or play it below in the player:
By the way. Bishop Morlino does this too, what he preaches when he gets into friendly territory, such as when he celebrates Mass for Holy Family Homeschoolers:
This is in the ordinary form, mind you.
Featured image by William Yallaly, altar candles photo by me, last two by Makenzie B.