High Schoolers Facing East

Six high school boys stayed after Thursday’s daily Mass at St Joseph’s Catholic School:

“Father, why didn’t you celebrate Mass facing East today?”

“I’m doing so on two days of the week, and on the other two the usual way. Do you like the Mass when I celebrate facing East?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“It feels more holy. It’s older right? But you’re not really facing East here.”

“There’s something called ‘liturgical East.’ It’s when the priest faces what used to be the East ’cause all the churches were built to face the rising sun, which was a symbol of the resurrection and also because Jesus would return to Jerusalem, which was in the East.”

“Like Muslims facing Mecca.”

“Sort of, but I’m not going to start wearing a turban”

“You could wear your biretta more often.”

“Shall I?”

“I like Mass when you face East because it feels like you are offering the Mass for us more.”

“I just like stuff that’s more traditional.”

“I think it feels more, well, manly. Do you know what I mean. Is that dumb?”

“That’s interesting. No, I don’t think it’s dumb, but I have to think about why it might be true.”

“I think it’s good because I was thinking more about God and not you, and when you elevated the host it was like Jesus floating there. It was more mysterious. It was cool.”

“Would you like me to continue saying Mass facing with you to the Lord?”

“Yes please.”

“You don’t feel slighted because I have turned my back to you? You sure I haven’t hurt your feelings?”

Laughter all around. “You’re not that good looking anyway Father.”

“OK, why don’t you all go to lunch now?”

 by Father Dwight Longenecker

  Brought up in an American Evangelical home, I went to Bob Jones University–the jewel on the buckle of the Bible Belt. While there I came down with a severe case of Anglophilia from reading too much C.S.Lewis and Tolkien and T.S.Eliot. I went to study theology at Oxford, was ordained as an Anglican priest and stayed in England for twenty five years. After ten years wearing a dog collar I was received into the Catholic Church. I spent ten years as a layman writing articles and books no one reads. Then the call came to return to the United States. In December 2006 I was ordained as a Catholic priest. I am now chaplain at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina, and I am on the staff of St Mary’s Greenville.

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