Day 2: Graces in Worship

To me, day 2 feels like a part of day 1, considering I got only a mere nap on the flight to Lisbon and then Fatima.  When I arrived, they suggested two options – either we celebrate mass with the whole community in an hour, or we celebrate the mass at our own preferred time in the chapel.  Because I had so little sleep I decided to celebrate mass on my own.  Nonetheless many of the 3rd order of the Alliance of the Two Hearts joined me for mass.  When I walked into the chapel I realized that the altar was positioned in such a way that I had to face the same direction as the people while celebrating the Novus Ordo.  

It was a strange experience, given that I had never been trained to know how to do this.  When do I face the people, when do I face the same direction?  I got a clear and simple answer from one of the brothers.  The laity definitely did not mind, since they all knelt to receive communion, one could tell they were accustom to the Latin-mass tradition. 

As I entered into the mass, I found myself feeling more united to the people than I often do.  I didn’t have to look at them, and they didn’t need to look at me.  We were both occupied with the prayer of the mass.  Now none of this should be interpreted as a passive slight against “facing the people.”  Nonetheless it has to be said that more often than not, people will criticize the old-way in order to build up the present norm in the Novus Ordo.  To me, it was actually gratifying to be able to focus on Christ during the mass without splitting my attention to the people.  It could be argued that the people reveal Christ, but I experienced that as well, when we were united to each other in the same direction at the mass. 

I have often stated this about facing the same direction, but it was only until today that I actually experienced and internalized it as I actually prayed in this way.  The normal practice in my diocese is to face the people, and I of course will be obedient to that regulation.  Furthermore, the people who attend that mass generally prefer it that way, and so we are talking about a different crowd and culture.  Nonetheless I thought I would offer an example of how true it is for the old-way of orienting ourselves can actually be spiritually enriching, if and only if, we do not project something negative into its meaning.

One of the practices I enjoy, when celebrating mass in the Novus Ordo is to make sure there is an altar cross that is at least visible to the priest celebrating the mass.  The people see the crucifix on the wall behind the sanctuary, however the priest does not.  I have found that the crucifix helps orient my prayer, and gives me something tangible to look upon that reminds me of the dignity of the mass with which I am celebrating.  It helps my prayers become less “performed” and more intentional and affectionately stated to Christ on behalf of the people. 

Mary Procession

After all of this I headed off to the candlelight procession.  It was difficult to follow as there were many languages being spoken.  This was nonetheless a positive experience, where I was able to tangibly united the petitions that so many have asked me to pray for during the recitation of the Rosary.  I am looking forward to hearing Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal Mueller speak about the Church today.  Please be assured of my continued prayers.  

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