During the season of Lent we focused on our own offering together with the priest at Mass by turning together toward the Lord with the priest as he stands facing the altar during the Eucharistic prayer. We call this facing “liturgical East” or ad orientem. Together with all the great world religions we orient ourselves before we pray in order to enter into it more fully as a self-offering to God. This custom was largely and inadvisably abandoned in the ferment following Vatican II without mandate from Church documents.
Christ comes now in the Eucharist and will come again at the end of time. Both senses of time are in our minds and hearts as we pray the Mass together. We call this the “cosmic” aspect of our spirituality. The God we hear speaking in the Scriptures and present in the Eucharist at Mass is the creator of the heavens and the earth, the “cosmos”; we both meet Him now in Communion and look ahead in space and time to meeting Him at the end of our lives, and at the end of all time, when He creates a new heavens and a new earth. We will continue to explore this richly symbolic meaning of our most important prayer of the Mass throughout the Easter Season.
By turning toward the altar together with the priest we confront more powerfully the fact that we are always moving spiritually through time as we look with hope to meeting the Lord of heaven at the end of our earthly journey. Thank you for your participation in this opportunity to grow in the life of prayer and praise.
- From the 12 April 2015 parish bulletin of Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Benedict, Md.