The Roman Catholic Bishop of Maasin
Circular No. 15 S2019
To: The Clergy, Religious and All the Faithful of the Diocese of Maasin
Re: Turning to God (“Ad Orientem, ad Deum”)
Dear People of God,
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King this year today, November 24, 2019, let us pledge once again, as His People, the Diocese Maasim, to turn more ardently and devotedly to God, who sent JESUS, His only-begotten Son, Our King and our Saviour. One of the particular ways to express concretely our turning to God is in the celebration of the Liturgy.
We remind ourselves of a very important understanding of the Liturgy as explained by Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, “God, not man is at the center of Catholic liturgy. We come to worship Him. The liturgy is not about you and I, it is not where we celebrate our own identity or achievements or exalt or promote our own culture and local religious customs. The liturgy is first and foremost about God and what He has done for us. In His Divine Providence Almighty God founded the Church and instituted the Sacred Liturgy by means of which we are able to offer Him true worship in accordance with the New Covenant established by Christ.” The Cardinal, in his address on the “authentic implementation” of the Vatican II Document on the Liturgy, “invited all priests to celebrate the Mass ad orientem … and that it is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction - Eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes, in those parts of the liturgical rites when we are addressing God. This practice is permitted by current liturgical legislation. It is perfectly legitimate in the modern rite. Indeed, I think it is a very important step in ensuring that in our celebrations the Lord is truly at the center.”
Indeed, we in our Diocese need to make God truly the center of our life. We just celebrated with gratitude our Golden anniversary as a Diocese, and we renewed our commitment to become true disciples of Christ. We need to constantly focus our gaze on Jesus, whom we are following, even in our celebration of the Liturgy.
Therefore, beginning this new Liturgical Year, the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019, the celebration of Mass “ad orientem” will start in the Diocese of Maasin. The Celebrant and the Faithful will face or turn together in the same direction to the Lord, represented in the Altar and the Crucifix, in those parts of the liturgical rites when we are addressing God. Likewise, the Lay Ministers, who are duly commissioned by the Bishop, through the Parish Priest to lead the Sunday Celebration of the Word and Communion, (Kasaulugan sa Pulong, KSP) will do likewise.
The Diocesan Commission on Liturgy will do whatever is necessary so that the priests, the Lay Liturgical Ministers for the Kasaulugan sa Pulong (KSP) in the chapels, and the faithful in general will be informed on the particular way of implementing this mode of celebrating the Mass, and its meaning and spirituality.
We hope that introducing this way of worshipping God in the Liturgy, we become “fellow worshippers united in the one same act of adoration.” The Clergy (Bishop, Priests and Deacons) and the Lay prayer-Leaders will lead the Faithful towards the Lord and not be at the center of liturgical woship themselves. “We bishops, have a great responsibility, and one day we shall have to answer to the Lord for our stewardship. We are the owners of nothing! As St. Paul teaches, we are merely ‘the servants of Christ and the stewards of the mysteries of God.’ …we are responsible to ensure that the sacred realities of the Liturgy are respected in our dioceses and that our priests and deacons not only observe the liturgical laws, but know the spirit and power of the liturgy from which they emerge.” (Cardinal Sarah)
With Mary our Mahal nga Patrona, Assumed into heaven, we may always turn to the Lord in heaven, as we celebrate the mysteries of our faith here on earth.
May God be praised, now and for ever!
Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB
Bishop of Maasin
Rev. Fr. Vincent D. Salang
November 24, 2019
Maasin City, Southern Leyte Philippines
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