From Our Pastor: Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is one of my favorite liturgies of the Church year. Remember as we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday all these liturgies are so unique and different to wake us up from our complacency. They commemorate significant moments in the life of Christ. Today we commemorate Jesus riding into Jerusalem triumphantly as King, then almost in the same breath they and WE cry out crucify him! By our sins we join in the cry to crucify him. In the other readings we hear about the suffering servant in Isaiah and how he teaches us to suffer and suffer silently with love. As we read the passion, we remember these words. As Jesus suffers and dies for us, He does that silently with love. In the passion narrative we see that Jesus is in complete control. Chaos is happening around Him, but he remains in control. In the chaos of your life, allow Christ to take control, and even in the suffering all will be life giving.
Many have asked questions about daily mass being “Ad Orientem.” This means to the east. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The son, Jesus Christ, rises in the east when He comes again. We face the east looking to the resurrection. Our church is facing east, but even if it isn’t facing east literally, liturgical east, is facing Christ in the tabernacle. The priest gathers the prayers of the people, and with the “orans,” the gesture the priest holds his hands, and offers them to the Lord. The opening prayer is literally called the collect to show that the priest collects the prayers of the people and offers them to the Lord. If the priest is facing the people, then that orans posture doesn’t make sense. I always joke when I face the people, I feel like an X-men shooting your prayers back at you. The ad orientem takes the focus off the priest and his personality and makes it more about the mass and the sacrament. Moving to ad orientem doesn’t mean we are moving to mass in Latin or to the “old mass.” I don’t know how to do it, nor have I ever studied Latin, which yes is an oddity. In the roman missal, the book the priest uses for all the prayers of the mass, it states in the instructions to face the tabernacle, and even says multiple times throughout the mass, and the priest facing the people says...... If the priest is already facing the people, why would it tell us to turn to face the people. The instructions for the mass call for us to face the tabernacle together. The bishop has asked us to make one of our Sunday Masses ad orientem and wrote about the benefits of ad orientem and encouraged it in parishes. His article is easy to find if you google, Catholic Times Bishop Paprocki Ad Orientem. It was a couple years ago. The younger members of the parish and those younger members on the parish council have asked me to consider as part of the process of moving the 9 a.m. mass to being more traditional and high church to consider making it ad orientem. I must teach first and let you get experiences of it at daily mass before we can consider it. Take the opportunity to come see how much sense this small change makes. I love to tell people it shows us when the priest is talking to God and when he is talking to you the people. When I am talking to you, I face you, and when I am talking to God, I face God. It makes so much more sense with the real presence to not have our back to Jesus in the tabernacle while I am talking to the Lord. My favorite teaching on this is to ask the simple question. When you are on a bus, do you want the driver to face you or the direction we are heading? Of course, you want him to face the direction we are heading. So hopefully you will realize that is what we should want in the mass as well, as we are all hopefully heading towards Christ and heaven, together. Come visit a daily mass and experience this and see how much it makes sense. Even if we don’t “like it,” we must remember it’s not about you or me or what any of us like, but about what the Church asks. There is so much more to say, and lots more theology about it all, but I believe this is plenty, at least for now. Only one of the weekend masses will eventually become ad orientem so we can offer this experience of the new mass for those young families that are seeking this, that can find this nowhere else in the city. The other three masses will take care of the needs of everyone else.
Don’t forget to take the opportunity to attend the Communal Penance service at St. Peter’s this year to prepare for Easter. It is 2 p.m. this Sunday, April 2, at St. Peter’s. Run to God’s mercy!
Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone for allowing me to be away last week for Cursillo. Thank you to Fr. Rafal for “being in charge.” I loved hearing that, it cracked me up! He is so witty. Thank you to Fr. Bob Barko for coming back to help to make it easier to be away. Thank you to all of you who prayed for me, for the candidates, and the grace for the weekend. Thank you for your support and love and outreach in your support. We had 31 awesome guys on this weekend, and what an experience together! What a fun, phenomenal, grace filled, and exciting weekend. If you have not been on a Cursillo for adults, and TEC for teens, I cannot encourage you enough to take this wonderful and amazing opportunity of growth in your faith!
-Rev. Steven Arisman