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Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison

This past weekend the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin made an announcement of great liturgical importance. Going forward His Excellency will be offering all of his Masses at the Cathedral ad orientem. Make no mistake about it, this is a major development on the liturgical landscape of American Catholicism.

While Bishop Morlino is a strong supprter of the Traditional Latin Mass, and has offered it publicly on numerous occasions, his recent announcement pertains to Masses offered in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

This is the positive manifestation of Robert Cardinal Sarah’s call to action at this past July’s Sacra Liturgia Conference in London. At the time Cardinal Sarah made the following request:

“And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice (ad orientem worship) wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people. Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, when we attend ‘the Lord who will come’ and ‘who will not delay’…

Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”

What is possibly even more inspiring than the bishop’s decision itself is the acceptance and (indeed) desire on the part of the faithful for a return to this traditional liturgical orientation. As one parishioner who was present said, there was an actual gasp from the pews when the announcement was made. “After the gasp, the Bishop said how wonderful it was that not only did we know what that means, but that he was seeing so many smiling about it. It was a truly magnificent moment!”

As we have reported previously, Bishop James D. Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln has offered all of his Masses ad orientem each of the last two Advents, also with widespread acceptance on the part of the faithful.

May the examples given by these two shepherds inspire more of their brother bishops to rise to the occasion. There is a developing momentum for this return to the historic discipline of the Church. While many in the Church seem to lack enthusiasm for it, beginning with Rome itself, a growing number of the faithful long for it.

As liturgical catechesis continues, particularly through the internet and social media, it will become easier for more dioceses to follow in the footsteps of men such as Bishops Morlino and Conley.

27 thoughts on “Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison”

  1. It’s a start, don’t get me wrong. And it’s great to see a bishop publicly take a stand such as this, given how Cardinal Sarah was just run over with a double decker bus by Francis’s minions on this issue.

    But in all seriousness: If you’re going to offer the Mass ad orientem—and inevitably p*** off a whole host of people in the process—why not just go all the way and commit to only saying Mass in the traditional Rite? At least then, the good Bishop would expose a greater number of souls to the true liturgical heritage of the Roman Rite, rather than the bastardized, options-a-plenty, hey-everybody-let’s-stand-up-and-shake-hands-even-though-the-Body-and-Blood-of-Christ-are-physically-present-on-the-altar (’cause it’s all about us, don’t you know?) ritual that currently passes for the “Ordinary Form”. I mean, “haters gonna hate” no matter what, so why not go all in?

  2. I am going to post this 1Peter5 column to my bishop in hopes that the practice will catch on. I hope many bishops will receive a heartfelt request for their parishioners.

    As for LB236’s suggesting that the bishops commit to saying the Mass in the Extraordinary Form:
    The Mass in the Ordinary Form can be offered very reverently. I’ve attended such a Mass.

    It was solemn and dignifiied. At the appropriate time, the priest (who also says Mass in the Extraordinary Form) offered his “Peace be with you,” the congregation responded, and the priest then omitted the “invitation” to the congregation to “offer each other a sign of peace.” No one was confused. They stood silently and reverently, waited for the priest to complete the fraction rite, elevate the consecrated Species, and announce, “Behold! The “Lamb of God”. And the people responded. It was beautiful!

    • I also have seen a very reverent and dignified celebration of the Ordinary Form. There is a parish in my diocese not too terribly far that celebrates a Latin High Mass in the Ordinary Form every Sunday at 10AM, ad Orietum included, and has for decades. I’ve gone there a number of times.

      However, with that said, I have to say that the entire Ordinary Form is deficient in its very structure. I’ve recently been attending the Extraordinary Form almost exclusively for the past couple of months after discovering a FSSP Parish only 20 minutes from home. The last 2 weeks, however, due to various circumstances, I’ve had to attend Mass once at my closest parish, and once at another reputedly conservative and traditional parish. My local parish has been doing a very good job after getting a new Associate Pastor at returning to some traditional practices (no more handshaking, receiving on the tongue at the altar rail, no more My Little Pony Gloria) as well. So I figured I’d be ok. But the Form of the Mass, even with appropriate music, without hand holding during the Our Father… all of that stuff… it’s STILL focused on US, NOT on God. It’s all about US having some way to “participate” in some active way. It’s orchestrated to turn our attention away from the place we should be focused. Admittedly, both of the parishes I just listed (not the first I mentioned) celebrated versus populum. But aside from that, the Ordinary Form was celebrated “as it should be.”

      The contrast with the Traditional, Extraordinary Form is striking. Quite simply, I’ve lost my taste entirely for the new, and I love the old. This coming from a convert of only 6 years who came into the Church after seeing liturgy for the first time at a Youth Mass.

      • Good on you Jafin! That’s great that you have found the Roman Rite of Mass.

        You can call the “Extraordinary Form” the traditional Mass, and the “Ordinary Form” is properly called the Novus Ordo Missae, according to Paul VI.

        The EF and OF terms were coined by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum, in order to place both rites on an equal footing, but here’s the problem: One one expresses the Catholic Faith (“absolutely free from error”, said the Council of Trent), and the other one simply does not. A rite that deliberately supresses many elements of the Deposit of Faith, (especially among them the essential nature of the Mass itself) and by these very supressions re-directs the faithful’s understanding of the Faith towards error, cannot be considered a Catholic rite, can it? The Novus Ordo does not express Catholic theology.

        Keep studying the issue!

        While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to have a look at the critical studies out there regarding the new rites of Holy Orders that our old friend Paul VI invented in 1968. You may find that the local SSPX chapel is a safer place to go to Mass and receive the Sacraments. As good as the FSSP are for having the traditional Mass, their sacramental situation is not as solid as the SSPX, who do not use any of the new rites that came in after Vatican II. Since the entire situation in the Church is completely novel, as far as I understand things, the safest option is to hold fast to things as they were before the catastrophic changes came in. As you said elsewhere, the rest is not for us to sort out. Our duty as the faithful is to hold fast to tradition, as St Paul commands us.

        • This post, I should note, is 4 months old and I have continued to study the issue. For sake of ease I still refer to the traditional rite as the Extraordinary Form, but I’ve taken to calling the OF the Novus Ordo, as it is its full name. I’ve attended 1 NO mass since writing this post you’re replying to and the disparity I mention was only more clear and I realize I can’t stand it anymore.

          I do still hold the NO rites as valid, if dangerous and foolhardy, since they do contain all the necessary elements required for validity (I’ve consulted many resources for this. I know you don’t agree.) If the new Rites are valid, then the FSSP’s sacraments are on firmer ground than SSPX since the FSSP has been given proper faculty to administer the sacraments under canon law. The SSPX, while maintaining valid orders and thus valid sacraments, does not have jurisdiction under canon law, so those sacraments are not celebrated licitly. If you take their arguments of supplied jurisdiction then they are licit, but that requires their arguments, which are on shaky ground, to actually work the way they think they do. Marriage is the most questionable. I think I believe their arguments, but I’m simply not 100% sure… so I shy away in favor of full canonical regularity.

          There’s no questioning the crisis present in the Church. Something I ran across this last weekend is the Ordinariate of St. Peter… looking to the future and learning from the past, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see that form of the liturgy one day becoming the norm for all the English speaking world… and that would be very good. I need to look into it a little bit more, but it seems that may be the way forward and out of the liturgical disaster we’re in for the English speaking world at least. I know you hold a moderate sedevacantist position and so you see other serious obstacles… but it’s an interesting thing to look at, no?

          • We live in the most fascniating time in the history of the Church, as much as I wish it were otherwise!

            My thinking is that if something as evil as the Novus Ordo can be promulgated, then whatever the cause, it could not have come from the Church, because She is indefectible. So the new rites promulgated by the same people who gave us the new mass have as much reliability to transmit the Faith whole and entire as the new mass. There is a striking difference between what Piux XII taught as necessary for validity in the old rite, and the changes that were made in the new one. The principle of non-contradiction comes in handy. The Church is not a gnostic sect. Her teaching is public, binding and irrevocable.

            If the local Bishop of my Diocese could provide the traditional Mass as received by tradition, offered by a Priest ordained in the rites received by tradition, and made sure that, as far as possible there were no heretics in his pulpits and no scandals in his confessionals, then I would go there today.

            The situation is that the Church is in an extreme emergency. I know that because I can compare what was handed on in previous times to now. The Faith is not being transmitted by the usual means, and I have a duty to hold to tradition. In ordinary times, there would be no need for a Fraternity like the SSPX, but unfortunatlely, that’s not the case. I believe it will eventually return to normal, and long for that day.

            Anyway, I always enjoy our exchanges. This post came up at the bottom of another current one as a suggestion.

    • Patricia, I’m happy for you that you’ve been fortunate enough to find such a reverently-offered OF Mass. But does the fact that such a Mass is so difficult to find not speak to the inherent flaws in the OF’s construction, with its plethora of options, loosey-goosey rubrics, and “anything goes” nature?

      This is the Mass, we were told, that would lead to a revival of Catholicism in the West. Can anyone honestly say that this has been accomplished?

    • “Revanchism” implies “revenge” — in politics, to retaliate for “lost territory.”

      Read the history of the Council of Trent and the “Tridentine” (“of Trent”) Mass as established inviolable by Pope St. Pius V in 1570 until 1962.

      Then, study the concerted — and, so far, successful — attack on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Cardinal (and suspected Freemason) Annibale Bugnini and his six-man anti-Catholic cabal, and their motives: to strip the sacred liturgy of its God-centered majesty and reverence and refashion it in the profane imagery of the Protestant Revolt.

      Revenge? No.


      • I see your point, but a better definition might be “a usually political policy designed to recover lost territory or status,” which is the sense in which I was using it.

  3. This is excellent news. May other bishops and priests follow Cardinal Sarah’s recommendation and Bishop Morlino’s lead. And let us support Cardinal Sarah with our prayers as he continues to examine a reform of the Mass of Paul VI.

  4. It’s a start, hey Bishop do away with the inane, idiotic, ridiculous sign of peace that everybody I know despises and we can restore some dignity back to the Mass.

      • It clearly says in either the Roman Missal or Canon Law that they are ***NOT to be at every single Mass,**** They are only for exceptional occasions where there are way too many people receiving Communion to get done in reasonable time (such as World Youth Day or Pope’s Mass at Giants Stadium) or the priest is injured or sickly and cannot distribute communion.

        • You are right of course but our bishops are almost all either spineless or untrue to their calling — state dinner types like Dolan know better (he really does) but he still chooses to shirk his duties.

  5. I am trying to understand how Ad Orientum works in the Ordinary Form. The Priest turns away from the congregation but still speaks to them? Does he face away from them during the Homily? etc etc. Any quick help much appreciated.

    • No dear. It’s done the same as the TLM. When the priest is speaking to the people (Dominus vobiscum, Benedicat vos, and homily, for example) he turns to face the people. The rest of the time, when he (and we ) are speaking to God, he turns to the tabernacle and crucifix (Confiteor, Kyrie, Pater Noster, “Eucharistic prayer”). Ever since I was a child I always thought it odd we were facing the priest at the end of the Our Father (for the kingdom power and glory are yours…) always seemed we should all face God. Now I know why….the Mass was written for us to face God together. Once again, we’ve been misled for 50 years

  6. If the Bishops are paying attention, they KNOW or should know, that traditional parishes are thriving. I think what would be absolutely IDEAL is to offer the ordinary Mass ad orientum and ALSO offer a Traditional Mass at least once on Sunday. I think if you ease people into it, they will without a doubt start seeing the benefits and graces from a more dignified and respectful Mass, and one that puts the focus back on Our Lord and NOT on us! I absolutely think ‘easing them into it’ will have a beneficial outcome, and will lead to more and more Masses in the EF. People (out of just habit and human nature) tend to ‘get stuck’ in what they’re comfortable with. I absolutely think it would be a ‘slippery slope’ in the right direction.

    That said, I once voiced my opinion with a senior parishioner (cradle Catholic byw) that I would love to have the TLM back…………she was APPALLED! She said…..’No way, not me, I NEVER want to see that Mass come back, I never want to hear latin again for that matter!’ She was a staunch Catholic parishioner……daily Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration weekly, very active in the parish etc……. You may find a good number of people that don’t want TLM. I don’t understand it personally, but they’re around.

    • We have the same problem here. You say “Latin,” they hiss and recoil as if you said “worship Satan.” Anyone paying attention will see that TLM and traditional N.O. parishes are the only ones thriving, growing, with people of ALL ages in attendance, producing vocations, etc….So when Cdl. Wuerl and Cdl. Cupich, for example, disdain tradition and Latin Mass, it becomes pretty clear that their priority is NOT the good of the faithful nor of doing right by the Lord. God forgive me, but what other conclusion can one draw when someone opposes something God and His church ordained and is bearing good fruit? ??


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