There has been a noticeable increase recently in parishes across the Archdiocese where priests have begun celebrating Mass in a more traditional manner. For example, many priests including ours in the Northwest-5 FOP are celebrating Mass ad orientem with the priest celebrant and people symbolically facing God the Father together and sometimes with the priest at a high altar. In response to questions about these practices, Archbishop Schnurr issued a decree to all his priests in the Archdiocese just before Christmas. That order partially restricts the use of Masses celebrated ad orientem and bans outright the celebration of Mass at a high altar. It applies to nearly all parish churches and is scheduled to take effect on January 19, 2023. Each pastor in the Archdiocese must implement any needed changes on or before that date to comply with that decree.
Regarding the specifics of the decree, it requires one Mass per parish per Sunday or holy day of obligation in each parish church to be celebrated with the priest facing the people (worship versus populum). Additionally, at least one daily Mass in each Family of Parishes must be celebrated that way.
Here in Northwest-5, Fr. Ned has decided to continue our current practices until Tuesday, January 10th, the beginning of liturgical ordinary time. Starting on that date, we will adjust many Masses in the Family of Parishes according to the Archbishop’s directive. Each Mass will be marked in the bulletin to indicate how it is celebrated. The code a.o. will indicate worship ad orientem while v.p. will indicate versus populum. Many Sunday Masses and daily Masses will still be celebrated ad orientem. The Masses celebrated versus populum were chosen according to provisions of the decree and the physical layout of the churches. In all of our parishes where the high altar is currently being used, we will begin celebrating Mass on the low altar.
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