Archive for the ‘AD ORIENTEM: Turning Towards the Lord’ Category

Interview with Robert Cardinal Sarah

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Cardinal Sarah: ‘How to Put God Back at the Center of the Liturgy’

From: THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER; TRANSLATED OF AN INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL SARAH, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; BY CHRISTINE BROESAMLE; Translation of an interview originally published by the French magazine Famille Chretienne.


Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, calls us to a serious reflection on the Eucharist. He also invites priests and the faithful to turn and “orient” themselves towards the East, “the Orient” — that is, to Christ.

Several weeks ago, you discussed a desire to see “The Sacrament of Sacraments put back in the central place,” that is, the Eucharist. What is your reasoning?

Cardinal Sarah: I wish to engage a serious consideration on this question, with the goal of placing the Eucharist back at the center of our lives. I have witnessed that, very often, our liturgies have become like theater productions. Often, the priest no longer celebrates the love of Christ through his sacrifice, but just a meeting among friends, a friendly meal, a brotherly moment. In looking to invent creative or festive liturgies, we run the risk of worship that is too human, at the level of our desires and the fashions of the moment. Little by little, the faithful are separated from that which gives life. For Christians, the Eucharist is a question of life and death!

How can we put God at the center?

Cardinal Sarah: The liturgy is the door to our union with God. If the Eucharistic celebrations are transformed into human self-celebrations, the peril is immense, because God disappears. One must begin by replacing God at the center of the liturgy. If man is at the center, the Church becomes a purely human society, a simple nonprofit, like Pope Francis has said. If, on the contrary, God is at the heart of the liturgy, then the Church recovers its vigor and sap! Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prophetically wrote, “In our relationship with the liturgy, the destiny of the faith and of the Church plays out.”

What remedy do you recommend to us?

Cardinal Sarah: The recognition of the liturgy as the work of God implies a true conversion of the heart. The Second Vatican Council insisted on a major point: In this domain, the importance is not what we do, but what God does. No human work can ever accomplish what we find at the heart of the Mass: the sacrifice of the cross.  The liturgy permits us to go out past the walls of this world. To find the sacredness and the beauty of the liturgy requires, therefore, a work of formation for the laity, the priests and the bishops. It is an interior conversion.  To put God at the center of the liturgy, one must have silence: this capacity to silence ourselves [literally: “shut up”] to listen to God and his word. I believe that we don’t meet God except in the silence and the deepening of his word in the depths of our heart.

How do we do this concretely?

Cardinal Sarah: To convert is to turn towards God. I am profoundly convinced that our bodies must participate in this conversion. The best way is certainly to celebrate — priests and faithful — turned together in the same direction: toward the Lord who comes. It isn’t, as one hears sometimes, to celebrate with the back turned toward the faithful or facing them. That isn’t the problem. It’s to turn together toward the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned. By this manner of celebrating, we experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration. We understand that the liturgy is first our participation at the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have personally had this experience: In celebrating thus, with the priest at its head, the assembly is almost physically drawn up by the mystery of the cross at the moment of the elevation.

But is this way of celebrating the Mass authorized?

Cardinal Sarah: It is legitimate and conforms to the letter and the spirit of the Council. In my capacity as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I continue to remind all that the celebration toward the East (versus orientem) is authorized by the rubrics of the missal, which specify the moments when the celebrant must turn toward the people. A particular authorization is, therefore, not needed to celebrate Mass facing the Lord. Thus, in an article published by LOsservatore Romano June 12, 2015, I proposed that the priests and the faithful turn toward the East at least during the Penitential Rite, during the singing of the Gloria, during the Propers and during the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the minds of many, the change of the orientation of the altar is tied to Vatican II. Is this accurate?  More than 50 years after the closure of Vatican II, it becomes urgent that we read these texts! The Council never required the celebration facing the people! This question is not even brought up by the Constitution [on Sacred Liturgy], Sacrosanctum Concilium.  What’s more, the Council Fathers wanted to emphasize the necessity for all to enter into participation of the celebrated mystery. In the years that have followed Vatican II, the Church has searched for the means of putting this intuition into practice.

Thus, to celebrate facing the people became a possibility, but not an obligation. The Liturgy of the Word justifies the face-to-face [orientation] of the lector and the listeners, the dialogue and the teaching between the priest and his people. But from the moment that we begin to address God — starting with the Offertory — it is essential that the priest and the faithful turn together toward the East. This corresponds completely with that which was willed by the Council Fathers.

I believe that we need to review the Council text. Certain adaptations to the local culture have probably not been fully developed enough. I have the translation of the Roman Missal in mind. In certain countries, important elements have been suppressed, notably the moment of the Offertory. In French, the translation of the Orate fratres has been truncated. The priest must say, “Pray my brothers that my sacrifice which is also yours would be agreeable to God the almighty Father.” And the faithful should respond: “May the Lord receive from your hands this sacrifice for the praise and the glory of his Name, for our good and that of all his Holy Church.” [Translator’s noteIn French, currently the people respond: “For the glory of God and the salvation of the world.”] At the audience which the Pope granted me on Saturday, April 2, he confirmed that the new translation of the Roman Missal must imperatively respect the Latin text.

What do you think about the participation of the faithful?

Cardinal Sarah: The participation of the faithful is primary. It consists, first of all, of allowing ourselves to be led to follow Christ in the mystery of his death and of his resurrection. “One doesn’t go to Mass to attend a representation. One goes to participate in the mystery of God,” Pope Francis reminded us very recently. The orientation of the assembly toward the Lord is a simple and concrete means to encourage a true participation for all at the liturgy. The participation of the faithful, therefore, would not be understood as a necessity to “do something.” On this point, we have deformed the teaching of the Council. On the contrary, it is to allow Christ to take us and associate us with his sacrifice. Only a view tempered in a contemplative faith keeps us from reducing the liturgy to a theater show where each has a role to play. The Eucharist makes us enter in the prayer of Jesus and in his sacrifice, because he alone knows how to adore in spirit and in truth.

What significance does the Church give to this question of orientation?

Cardinal Sarah: To begin with, we are not the only ones to pray “oriented,” that is, facing the East. The Jewish Temple and the synagogues were always facing East. In regaining this orientation, we can return to our origins. I note also that some non-Christians, the Muslims in particular, pray facing the East.

For us, the light is Jesus Christ. All the Church is oriented, facing East, toward Christ: ad Dominum. A Church closed in on herself in a circle will have lost her reason for being. For to be herself, the Church must live facing God. Our point of reference is the Lord! We know that he has been with us and that he returned to the Father from the Mount of Olives, situated to the East of Jerusalem, and that he will return in the same way. To stay turned toward the Lord, it is to wait for him every day. One must not allow God reason to complain constantly against us: “They turn their backs toward me, instead of turning their faces!” (Jeremiah 2:27).

Welcome Back to Salem, Archbishop Gullickson!

Monday, June 13th, 2016



Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Robert Cardinal Sarah was appointed by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Robert Cardinal Sarah was appointed by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments


By Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect

Office of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments

L’Osservatore Romano, June 12, 2015

Translation from Rorate Caeli [] by contributor Francesca Romana

Fifty years after its promulgation by Pope Paul VI will the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council be read? “Sacrosanctum concilium“ is not de facto a simple catalogue of reform “recipes” but a real “magna carta” of every liturgical action.

With it, the ecumenical council gives us a magisterial lesson in method. Indeed, far from being content with a disciplinary and exterior approach, the council wants to make us reflect on what the liturgy is in its essence. The practice of the Church always comes from what She receives and contemplates in Revelation. Pastoral care cannot be disconnected from doctrine.

In the Church, “that which comes from action is ordered to contemplation” (cfr. n. 2). The Council’s Constitution invites us to rediscover the Trinitarian origin of the liturgical action. Indeed, the Council establishes continuity between the mission of Christ the Redeemer and the liturgical mission of the Church. “Just as Christ was sent by His Father, so also He sent the Apostles” so that “by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves” they accomplish ”the work of salvation”. (n.6).

Actuating the liturgy is therefore nothing other than actuating the work of Christ. The liturgy in its essence is “actio Christi”. [It is] the “work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God.” (n.5) It is He who is the great Priest, the true subject, the true actor in the liturgy (n.7). If this vital principle is not accepted in faith, there is the risk of making the liturgy into a human work, a self-celebration of the community.

By contrast, the real work of the Church consists in entering into the action of Christ, in uniting oneself to that work which He received as a mission from the Father. So, “the fullness of divine worship was given to us” since “His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation” (n.5). The Church, the Body of Christ, must therefore become in Her turn an instrument in the hands of the Word.

This is the ultimate meaning of the key-concept of the Conciliar Constitution: “participatio actuosa”. Such participation for the Church consists in becoming the instrument of Christ – The Priest, with the aim of sharing in His Trinitarian mission. The Church takes part actively in the liturgical action of Christ in the measure that She is His instrument. In this sense, to speak of “a celebrating community”” is not devoid of ambiguity and requires prudence. (Instruction “Redemptoris Sacramentum” n. 42).  “Participatio actuosa” should not then be intended as the need to do something. On this point the Council’s teaching has frequently been deformed. Rather, it is about allowing Christ to take us and associate us with His Sacrifice.

Liturgical “participatio” must thus be intended as a grace from Christ who “always associates the Church with Himself.”(S.C. n. 7) It is He that has the initiative and the primacy. The Church “calls to Her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father” (n.7).

The priest must thus become this instrument which allows Christ to shine through. Just as our Pope Francis reminded us recently, that the celebrant is not the presenter of a show; he must not look for popularity from the congregation by placing himself before them as their primary interlocutor. Entering into the spirit of the council means, on the contrary, making oneself disappear – relinquishing the centre-stage.

Contrary to what has at times been sustained, and in conformity with the Conciliar Constitution, it is absolutely fitting that during the Penitential Rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations and Eucharistic Prayer, for everyone – the priest and the congregation alike– to face ad orientem together, expressing their will to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ. This way of doing things could be fittingly carried out in the cathedrals where the liturgical life must be exemplary (n. 4).

To be very clear, there are other parts of the Mass where the priest, acting “in persona Christi Capitis” enters into nuptial dialogue with the congregation. But this face-to-face has no other end than to lead them to a téte-à-tète with God, who through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will make it ‘a heart to heart’. The council offers other means to favor participation [through]  “the acclamations , responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes.” (n.30).

An excessively quick reading and above all, a far too human one, inferred that the faithful had to be kept constantly busy. Contemporary Western mentality formed by technology and bewitched by the mass media, wanted to make the liturgy into a work of effective and profitable pedagogy. In this spirit, there was the attempt to render the celebrations convivial. The liturgical actors, animated by pastoral motives, try at times to make it into didactic work by introducing secular and spectacular elements. Don’t we see perhaps testimonies, performances and clapping in the increase? They believe that participation is favored in this manner, whereas in fact, the liturgy is being reduced to a human game.

“Silence is not a virtue, nor noise a sin, it is true” says Thomas Merton “but the continuous turmoil, confusion and noise in modern society or in certain African Eucharistic liturgies are an expression of the atmosphere of its most serious sins and its impiety and desperation. A world of propaganda and never-ending argumentations, of invectives, criticisms, or mere chattering, is a world in which life is not worth living. Mass becomes a confused din, the prayers an exterior or interior noise.” (Thomas Merton, “The Sign of Jonah” French edition, Albin Michel, Paris, 1955 – p. 322).

We run the real risk of leaving no space for God in our celebrations. We risk the temptation of the Hebrews in the desert. They attempted to create worship according to their own stature and measure, [but] let us not forget they ended up prostrate before the idol of the Golden Calf.

It is time to start listening to the Council. The liturgy is “above all things the worship of the divine Majesty” (n.33). It has pedagogic worth in the measure wherein it is completely ordered to the glorification of God and Divine worship. The Liturgy truly places us in the presence of Divine transcendence. True participation means renewing in ourselves that “wonder” which St. John Paul II held in great consideration (Ecclesia de Eucharistia” n. 6). This holy wonder, this joyful awe, requires our silence before the Divine Majesty. We often forget that holy silence is one of the means indicated by the Council to favor participation.

If the liturgy is the work of Christ, is it necessary for the celebrant to introduce his own comments?  We must remember that, when the Missal authorizes an intervention, this must not turn into a secular and human discourse, a comment more or less subtle on something of topical interest, nor a mundane greeting to the people present, but a very short exhortation so as to enter the Mystery (General Presentation of the Roman Missal, n.50). Regarding the homily, it is in itself a liturgical act which has its own rules.

“Participatio actuosa” in the work of Christ, presupposes that we leave the secular world so as to enter the “sacred action surpassing all other” (Sacrosanctum concilium, n.7). De facto, “we claim, with a certain arrogance, to stay in the human – to enter the divine.” (Robert Sarah, “Dieu ou rien”, p. 178).

In such a sense, it is deplorable that the sanctuary (of the high altar) in our churches is not a place strictly reserved for Divine worship, that secular clothes are worn in it and that the sacred space is not clearly defined by the architecture. Since, as the Council teaches, Christ is present in His Word when this is proclaimed, it is similarly detrimental that the readers do not wear appropriate clothing, indicating that they are not pronouncing human words but the Divine Word.

The liturgy is fundamentally mystical and contemplative, and consequently beyond our human action; even the “participatio” is a grace from God. Therefore, it presupposes on our part an opening to the mystery being celebrated. Thus, the Constitution recommends full understanding of the rites (n.34) and at the same time prescribes that “the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” (n.54).

In reality, the understanding of the rites is not is not an act of reason left to its own devices, which should accept everything, understand everything, master everything. The understanding of the sacred rites is that of “sensus fidei”, which exercises the living faith through symbols and which knows through “harmony” more than concept. This understanding presupposes that one draws close to the Divine Mystery with humility.

But will we have the courage to follow the Council up to this point? Such a reading, illuminated by faith, is however, fundamental for evangelization. In fact, “to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together “ (n.2). It [the reading of S.C.] must stop being a place of disobedience to the prescriptions of the Church.

More specifically, it cannot be an occasion for laceration among Catholics. The dialectic readings of “Sacrosanctum concilium” i.e. the hermeneutics of rupture in one sense or another, are not the fruit of a spirit of faith. The Council did not want to break with the liturgical forms inherited from Tradition, rather it wanted to deepen them. The Constitution establishes that “any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” (n.23).

In this sense, it is necessary that those celebrating according to the “usus antiquior” do so without any spirit of opposition, and hence in the spirit of “Sacrosanctum concilium”. In the same way, it would be wrong to consider the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as deriving from another theology that is not the reformed liturgy. It would also be desirable that the Penitential Rite and the Offertory of the “usus antiquior” be inserted as an enclosure in the next edition of the Missal with the aim of stressing that the two liturgical reforms illuminate one another, in continuity and with no opposition.

If we live in this spirit, then the liturgy will stop being a place of rivalry and criticisms, ultimately, to allow us to participate actively in that liturgy “which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle.” (n.8).

Welcome to Salem, Archbishop Gullickson!

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Archbishop-GullicksonWELCOME, ARCHBISHOP GULLICKSON!  Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson will honor our parish this Sunday by celebrating the 10:00 a.m. Holy Mass.  Archbishop Gullickson was born in Sioux Falls on August 14, 1950, and was ordained a priest for our diocese by the late Bishop Lambert A. Hoch on July 27, 1976.   As a young priest, he was assigned to work in Rome and abroad for the Holy See’s diplomatic service.  On October 2, 2004, he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Polymartium by St. John Paul II, and Papal Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Island nations in the Caribbean Sea.  Archbishop Gullickson chose to come home to Sioux Falls to receive episcopal consecration (ordination), which took place at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls on  November 11, 2004, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop and Confessor.  Archbishop (later Cardinal) Giovanni Lajolo travelled from Rome to serve as Principal Consecrator, with then-Bishop Robert J. Carlson and Bishop Paul J. Dudley serving as Co-Consecrators.  Archbishop’s Gullickson’s consecration was only the second episcopal ordination to take place in St. Joseph Cathedral, the first being Bishop Lambert Anthony Hoch’s consecration as Bishop of Bismarck by Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani on March 25, 1952.  On December 15, 2004, Archbishop Gullickson was entrusted with serving the additional islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Grenada.  On May 21, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Gullickson the Papal Nuncio to Ukraine, where he resides at the Nunciature in Kyiv.  You can read Archbishop Gullickson’s very informative weblog by going to:   Thanks to parishioner and Parish Photographer, Sherry Stoffel, for the photos!

Photos of Opening Mass on First Day of School: August 21st

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Photos from Corpus Christi Sunday Adoration

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Archbishop Gullickson’s most recent blog entry on Ad Orientem Worship

Sunday, April 14th, 2013


From Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson’s blog, Deo Volente Ex Animo ( reprinted with the Archbishop’s permission


Archbishop Gullickson is Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, and a native of Sioux Falls, SD

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

At the end of Holy Mass this morning, I experienced a powerful sense of gratitude because of two things: that I find myself living here in Ukraine and that I could arrange my chapel for celebrating the Eucharist ad Orientem. Some might rather suspect a case of spring fever aggravated by the fact that there is bright sunlight now at Mass time in the morning again after a very long and dark winter. But I give you no hearing and no choice; I will simply insist that my elation can only be explained by accepting my two reasons.

When it comes to established Churches and their houses of worship, Ukraine is by and large Byzantine and hence oriented. Even if walking about town here in Kyiv my inner compass tries to convince me I am walking north, I can be confident that if a church building is Byzantine, whether Catholic or Orthodox, then the apse of that building is to the east. Everyone at Divine Liturgy, Catholic or Orthodox, prays facing east. Even though our house isn’t exactly oriented and the chapel conforms to the house plan, my liturgical east is not far from due east as the bird flies. In my chapel we pray the Eucharistic Prayer facing together the Dawn from on High, Who came to save us and will come again on the clouds of heaven, to judge the living and the dead. He will come from the east.

Maybe you have to live in Ukraine to get excited positively about such. That’s why I guess I say for ad Orientem and for my greater context in a Byzantine world, Deo gratias! Maybe this particular elation simply comes from “having my bearings”. If that is the case, then I wish it to you all: that you might find your bearings and find yourself inserted in something greater than just the cosmic flow which it is, greater than turning to Mecca or Jerusalem. Turning to the East, Who is our Risen Lord! Alleluia!

I guess I could feel this year’s disjuncture over a disparity of 5 weeks in our date for Easter, but at least for this morning common orientation in worship has the upper hand.



About Archbishop Gullickson:

Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on the Vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady, August 14, 1950 and ordained to the priesthood on June 27, 1976. He was ordained to the Episcopate at St. Joseph Cathedral in his hometown of Sioux Falls on November 11, 2004, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours. He is titular Archbishop of Bomarzo.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1st May 1985 and has been appointed successively to the Diplomatic Missions in Rwanda, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Jerusalem, Israel and Germany.

He has a degree in Canon Law and he speaks English, Italian, French and German.

His first posting as Apostolic Nuncio was to Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Suriname, twelve independent States in the region.

His first posting as Apostolic Delegate was to the Antilles Episcopal Conference region, comprising the English, French, with the exception of Haiti, and Dutch territories in the Caribbean, a total of twenty-two with their own governments. There are eighteen Dioceses and two Missio sui iuris, ecclesiastical entities, in the Antilles. Archbishop Gullickson is the fifth Apostolic Nuncio in this region.

On 21 May 2011, the Holy Father named him Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine.

Church Lenten Photos

Friday, March 1st, 2013

St. Mary’s School Children Participate in Holy Mass in Extraordinary Form for the First Time!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

On Thursday, September 13th, the morning parishioner John Streff left for Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, NE, we celebrated a Votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Extraordinary Form at 8:15am with the school children and the parishioners participating, instead of the regular Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form.  This was at John’s request.  The teachers prepared the children very well, and everything went very smoothly.  Since the school children already receive Holy Communion kneeling at the Communion Rail at every weekday Mass, and are learning parts of the Ordinary Form of the (English) Mass in Latin, they see the continuity between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass.  Thanks be to God and Our Blessed Mother!


Traditional Latin Mass at Salem

Sunday, February 5th, 2012