Tonight, I did an experiment with the liturgy, in the (true) spirit of Vatican II.
For the Solemnity of the Assumption, we had the schola present; we chanted the introit--in English--as well as the offertory and communion. In fact, the only hymn we sang was the Salve Regina at the conclusion.
We did use some Latin and Greek: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.
I chanted the Gospel, the Roman Canon and a lot else.
Oh--and I offered the Mass toward the Lord.
Before Mass, I explained what I was going to do; and then I elaborated on it during my homily.
I chose this occasion because it was not an obligatory Mass, and I'd warned in the bulletin there'd be lots of incense and chant, so I figured that would be something of a clue.
But I didn't decide, until 15 minutes before, to go ahead with ad orientem.
I let folks know they didn't have to like it, but they might; I invited them to let me know what they thought about it. (A few gave comments and those where positive ones.)
In my homily, I explained how Pope Benedict has prompted this reconsideration of ad orientem, I attempted to explain how, after Vatican II, some things were given so much emphasis that other important aspects of the liturgy were obscured, and I explained how the priest needs to decrease, so that Christ may increase. I explained that I wasn't planning on doing this all the time, just now and then.
We had about 40 folks present.
Now I'm having some dinner.
Update (ca. 11:55 pm)...
Well, I had my dinner, and had some time to think about the Mass tonight, so now I can share some further thoughts about offering Mass ad orientem. (Welcome Fr. Z readers!)
It's not the first time I've done it; but I haven't offered Mass ad orientem in the parish many times other than privately. I was a little nervous, because I thought, is someone going to get upset about this? Really upset? And it didn't help that I am getting over a cold and developed a bit of a cough as I'm finishing the Canon (singing it); it was really hard finishing the Per Ipsum.
The servers, including several adults, in cassock and surplice, were excellent. The three boys were all brothers, sons of the music director. The schola was excellent. The acoustics in Saint Boniface--now that the carpeting is gone--are excellent. The one downside of ad orientem was I couldn't see the clouds of incense I know the servers were offering behind me, during the elevations.
I might also add, that having a procession carried out well is very edifying.
I am sorry I forgot my biretta, but--it is just as well. It was probably better I didn't wear it; as well, that I didn't use the Roman Canon in Latin, as I was going to do initially. Why do I say that?
Because, as it was, it should have been clear we were offering the newer form of the Mass, not the extraordinary form. Had I used a biretta, and used Latin, it might have been less clear.
Finally, I have to tell you, there is something tremendously powerful, for the priest, in offering Mass toward the Lord. For one, the architecture of the church makes so much more sense. As I offered the Sacrifice, I was aware of the beautiful sanctuary lamp over my head, I was gazing at the massive crucifix ahead of all of us, and above that, the Good Shepherd window in the apse. The light from the evening sun poured in through the windows, a dappled gold light.
I knew everyone was behind me, but--I was there alone; but not alone, with the Lord.
A couple of curious things happened, none of which I orchestrated. The servers were all kneeling behind me, at the top step of the altar, as I made my communion; they remained kneeling for communion.
Then, when I went down to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful, it seemed a lot of folks received on the tongue--more than usual. And there seemed a tremendous sense of awe among all who came forward. It's hard to know if that's actually what others felt, unless folks present say so, or just my perception.