A Western Australian correspondent informs me that, for some time now, Mass on Saturdays at St Charles' Seminary, Perth, has been said ad orientem versus; and that for the first time – when my friend was there a month ago – the same Eastward stance has been taken at Sunday Mass. I hear that the singing of the Ordinary (including Latin for the Sanctus) and the choice of decent hymns were both pleasing, and that it was good to see the seminarians alike all in cassocks: indeed, the Rector, Monsignor Long (who was the chief celebrant), sets a very good example to them by always wearing his.
I recall how Bp Jarrett of Lismore likes to quote the Apostle's words "Let all things be done decently and in order" (I Cor. xiv, 40) when describing the unpretentious and sober manner in which Mass ought be said, the priest being thus a servant of the sacred liturgy, not a third-rate actor in a melodrama, nor a robot: I recall the then Fr Long saying Mass in the Catholic college chapel at the University of Western Australia, and such was the ars celebrandi he employed then, and still does now: without affectation "doing the red, saying the black". I would think that this is one very important aspect of Pope Benedict's patient hopes for resacralization of worship – a making clear what it really is.
At Communion, it was also pleasing to hear of various of the seminarians quite unselfconsciously kneeling to receive Our Lord, as a godly freedom obtained as to which of the lawful postures for reception were employed, for the particular spiritual good of each person (for it stands to reason that, given the choice between Communion "kneeling on the tongue" or "standing on the hand", one should receive in the method best calculated to increase one's reverence).
Do spare a prayer, gentle reader, for the seminarians and staff of this seminary, which, ever since its reopening by Archbishop Barry Hickey (now very soon to retire) has produced a good crop of new priests. Pray that the Archdiocese of Perth may be granted a strong, confident, Catholic successor in due time, that this work, and all else, may continue to grow and flourish.
By contrast, I recall attending one Mass, about a decade ago, at the Melbourne seminary, which got the priest who said it into enormous trouble (and some of the seminarians as well), just because, celebrating a Marian feast day by using the altar in the adjacent grotto, he said Mass ad orientem; the rumour – itself revealing – was that he said a Latin Mass (this in the days when to even imagine doing so was considered naughty if not worse), whereas it was just a normal vernacular celebration at which, by reason of the altar used being up against the back wall of the grotto, he had no option but to stand facing it.
What a difference a decade makes!