Kneeling In The Right Direction And Any Faith At All

January 9, 2024

"Thus you [the priests] shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."  Numbers6,23b-26 NRSV

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness; how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. Mark9,49-50 NRSV

"John said to him, 'Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.' But Jesus said 'Do not stop him;Mark9,38-39a NRSV

"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes will he really find faith on earth?" Luke18,8 NKJV

When I was a newbie Christian (and a convert to the RCC) in New Haven Connecticut back in the late 1980s I would occasionally go the the Traditional Latin Mass ("TLM") at Sacred Heart (closed since 2010) on Columbus Avenue in the Hill section of the city.

So even though I am no longer Catholic, it still surprised me that the present interation of the Latin Mass on Sundays at St. Stanislaus on State State was recently cancelled- as of January 14, 2024.   

The TLM received a slight rebirth in 1985 when Karol Wojtyla brought it back in a limited fashion- as long as it didn't replace the new order of the Mass passed by Vatican II in 1968. 

The organ music at the the Scared Heart TLM service was top notch and yes the service went sort of long- compared the occasional 45 minute quick and easy-light-on-the-preaching masses of the weekly dogma. But as a New Christian I not only enjoyed the majesty of this amazing church, I also learned a lot from the postural reality of this service- in that everybody including the priest(s) was clearly directing his or her spirit and faith, and faces, and sight, and sacrificial worship, and even the incense, firstly towards God's face so to speak. 

This rightly God directed worship, ad orientem, to the East, of the TLM stuck well and fast in my Spirit as I went through the seminary and throughout my almost ten years as a priest.

And about three years into my priesthood I had some time off and found myself travelling on a Sunday, and then at a ordinary mass at a random parish. And since I was not concelebrating I was kneeling like everybody else- facing the priest who was standing behind the altar.

And truth be told- it didn't feel right to me that we in the congregation were all kneeling- trying to direct our prayer to God- while the priest was standing facing us doing his physical re-presentation of Calvary sacrificial task.

And then another awkward moment, for me anyway, ocurred when the priest bellowed out the final exclamatory "Per Ipsum" prayer, "through Him, with Him..." which, as far as words go, is a great prayer. But as I see it now, it would be a really great prayer for all God's baptized people to exclaim, all standing up no less, as Jesus' one universal priesthood, not just said by the ordained.

Perhaps the priest was just having a bad day- or was trying for the first time a new or improvised tone. But as I am kneeling there in the congregation- my thirsty spirit didn't quite receive the beautifully worded "Through Him" exclamation that day. It wasn't just the tone or the improvisation or whatever it was that went not so right, it was more that I was kneeling before some grandly vested person who was in a triumphant standing posture facing and exclaiming for us, while we were all keeping silent and kneeling- and to be honest not doing much of anything.

So even though I am not a Roman catholic anymore, I'd like to add my two cents from what I learned from it at Sacred Heart in New Haven. And that is- at least the prevailing one directional, ad orientem (to the East) posture of the TLM taught me that first and foremost we all are there to worship our living God only, in the Name of Jesus.

And please note if you will, dear Catholic friends, as the more cheerful or less cheerful TLM aficionados might also mention, that the claimed physical sacrifice of any RCC mass arguably (with the new post Vatican II Ordo) now has the priest on the wrong side of the altar- if he in fact is re-presenting a physical sacrifice. (Yes, the eucharistic service is also a meal, and a Passover meal at that, which was not celebrated in the Temple, or in synagogues, but in Hebrew homes, or according to Jesus, messiah of Israel, in some covenient upper room-holy place place as it was at the last supper.)

Now I left the Roman church in 2006, no longer believing that its traditional and territorial province by province institutionality and its vast panoply of dogmatically efficient teachings line up with the Word. I also later soon gave up trying to believe that Ignatius- who went home to Jesus after his faithful martyrific service very very early in the second century- wrote the travelogue letters attributed to him- in that these depict a perfect and flourishing very late fourth century Roman hierarchical and triumphal Bishop based ecclesiology.

And I now believe that the Lord's Supper is celebrated on and around the table of the Lord. This is a Spiritual sacrifice (1Peter2,5) as led by all adult baptized believers, by God's universal Christian priesthood (1Peter2,5,9 and 1Corinthians10,16 "The cup of blessing we bless..."). It is not a re-presentation of Jesus' one and last physical sacrifice by transubstantiation (dogma of 1562AD) that brings back his pre-Calvary physical body, which no longer exists, and would not fit the present Spiritual reality of His heavenly resurrected body which does still exist, 1Corinthians15,40.

The consecration, ie the resultant blessed holiness of the bread and wine, at the table of the Lord according to Zion Pentecost Mission, comes from the holy and faithful blessing of the bread and wine by all God's universal priesthood, by all his holy and faithful ones.  

That said, I am still grateful for the folks who organized and celebrated the Latin Mass in New Haven back in the late 1980's. It helped me focus my faith on God in all things we call church, and also to keep asking Him how to best worship him in public, and at church, and at home. 

By the way, regardless of the TLM- or any other religious issue- in any church or denomination- we all  best remember that when Jesus comes back in the end- He will not necessarily be concerned about one type of service or another, such as TLM or the almost 56 year old "new" Ordo in the Roman church, but if any of us stilll has any saving, repentent, and personal personal faith at all- which, as far as I know and teach, is what saves us.

So peace out to all who worship God, From New Haven County, CT in the good old freedom loving USA. Would that God's face, revealed by Jesus, shine on all of us, in Jesus Name I pray.

Br. Tobin




Preaching Hour TV weekly on Cox PATV Channel 15 in Cheshire, Southington and Meriden CT and on VCAM Channel 15 10pm Fridays in Burlington VT.



Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.