4.5 Years of Ad Orientem – So Much Blessing!

4.5 Years of Ad Orientem – So Much Blessing!


I saw my good friend, Fr. Jay Finelli, posted on Facebook that it had now been 4.5 years that he has offered the Mass, exclusively, ad orientem. I searched back on old articles, and I discovered he and I have been tracking exactly the same.

This is what I wrote 4.5 years ago (January 7, 2013) …

It’s official. St. Mary of Pine Bluff became a parish that celebrates the Novus Ordo ad orientem at all of their Masses.


After a year of celebrating daily Masses ad orientem, we wondered when and if we would take the next step to celebrate all of our Masses this way – including weekend Masses. Then came the December 6, 2012 homily by our own Bishop Robert Morlino (listen here). In his homily, our bishop was actually encouraging ad orientem worship. Of course this was all the incentive we needed – or, was it?


We didn’t make a full commitment. Instead, we DID celebrate weekend Masses ad orientem, beginning the very next weekend. However, we saw this as a kind of “test drive,” as we were willing to revert back to versus populum, if the pushback became too severe.


The reaction was overwhelmingly positive (at least from those who voiced an opinion). And so, I made the decision to use the great feast of Epiphany, in which we see the Magi journeying toward the star they saw at it’s rising (in the East), to teach on “ad orientem.”


Again, the response was overwhelmingly positive. We are now officially a parish that celebrates all of their Novus Ordo Masses ad orientum.

And then, one year later, I posted a copy of this letter I wrote to a priest friend about the fruits of ad orientem

We moved to Ad Orientem worship, exclusively, early in 2013, I wrote the following on a previous blog I had, on February 22, 2014 …


This is a letter I just sent to a priest friend. I wrote it because I don’t believe we priests should be frightened anymore. I agree with a recent post that said, while we take our time, souls are being lost. We all know, in our bones, that God wants this … let’s simply obey and allow God to bless our obedience!!!


Dear Father,


I wanted to write to update you on the amazing things God is doing here …


A year is up and the results are in.


It’s been a little over one year since we removed the freestanding altar and committed to ad orientem worship for all of our Masses. Without a doubt, it was a leap of faith, as I simply trusted God would provide.


The initial response from some of the old guard was a bit nerve-racking. In fact, a handful of them decided to no longer attend here, as they dispersed to local parishes.


Beyond that, I don’t even know if I can begin to share all of the fruits of this move.


First, the spiritual benefits are palpable. Our parish has a sense that we are truly worshiping, and it simply feels so right. This is visibly seen in such things as the altar boys who are more reverent and precise. People are coming early to pray the rosary, and many are staying afterwards to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Everyone is offering the “proper” gestures (bowing, etc.) at the appropriate times. Virtually everyone began, mostly in just the past year, really dressing up for Mass. It seems every Sunday another woman has decided to veil – AT A NOVUS ORDO! And, we just had over 300 people go through the 33 Days of Preparation for Consecration to Jesus Through Mary!!!


Our choir has doubled in size over the past year, and they are chanting and singing polyphony so beautifully that I am thinking they should make a CD. Even our men’s schola went from 7 members to nearly 20 in just this past year. And, these men have become quite a “band of brothers” as they also gather once a month in my man cave for what we call, “Pipes and Pints” … Virtually all of them enjoy a nice pipe and brew as we discuss church related issues and try to solve all of the problems of the world. Virtually all of these men are young professionals.


I haven’t looked at any statistics, but it seems that, over just this one year, the average age of our parishioners went from 65 to 35, as so many young families are discovering us and joining the parish. It is so wonderful to hear the squeaks and squawks of little ones throughout the Mass!!! My secretary commented that it seems a new young family appears here every week.


Last year, our finance council was recommending that we begin a special giving campaign, as we were feeling the effects of the economic downturn of the past five years. I asked them to give it one more year, as we see the effects of ad orientem worship. They reluctantly agreed. A year later, we just had a finance council meeting and – get this! – Contributions are up 30% IN ONE YEAR!!!


I can’t say this is what will happen in every parish that decides to take the risk and move in this direction, but I wanted to be, at least, one more story of a parish that put their trust in God, and witnessed how God blessed this move to offer greater reverence in the Mass, especially by celebrating ad orientem.


Ad majorem Dei gloriam!!

I concur with Fr. Jay Finelli … “To all my brother priests, Do not be afraid!”

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