(click on images for full view – photos by Father Anzlem)
Beginning on Monday, November 3rd weekday Masses (Monday – Saturday) will be held in Corpus Christi’s Convent Chapel. Using this area instead of the large church will save on heating bills during the winter months. Sunday Masses will continue in the church.
In the past few weeks, some changes have taken place in the convent sanctuary. A painting of the Most Blessed Trinity from the closed St. Barbara’s Church in Lackawanna now occupies the main wall. The altar also from the St. Barbara’s and for some in the back of Corpus Christi is now in the convent. The sedilia, or presider’s chair, from the former St. Valentine’s Church in Buffalo will be also used at Masses in the convent.
Mass will be celebrated on this altar, ad orientem. Meaning towards the East, the priest and people will face the same direction. This is for three reasons:
1) It is an important part of our Catholic tradition.
2) The Pauline Fathers have always offered Mass this way, even after Vatican II (which did not even call for new altars or the priest facing the people) especially at the shrines of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Jasna Gora, Poland and Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
3) The altar is truly a beautiful peace of religious art which should be valued and used for what it was created for.
Sunday Masses, however, will continue to be celebrated on the church’s free-standing altar facing the people.
Wrongly considered for the past few decades as the priest with his “back to the people,” Pope Benedict has called for a widespread return to this position especially during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. His Holiness also celebrated a televised Mass in this way, earlier this year. In his book, Spirit of the Liturgy, the Pope wrote:
“This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come.”