At the end of Holy Mass this morning, I experienced a powerful sense of gratitude because of two things: that I find myself living here in Ukraine and that I could arrange my chapel for celebrating the Eucharist ad Orientem. Some might rather suspect a case of spring fever aggravated by the fact that there is bright sunlight now at Mass time in the morning again after a very long and dark winter. But I give you no hearing and no choice; I will simply insist that my elation can only be explained by accepting my two reasons.
When it comes to established Churches and their houses of worship, Ukraine is by and large Byzantine and hence oriented. Even if walking about town here in Kyiv my inner compass tries to convince me I am walking north, I can be confident that if a church building is Byzantine, whether Catholic or Orthodox, then the apse of that building is to the east. Everyone at Divine Liturgy, Catholic or Orthodox, prays facing east. Even though our house isn't exactly oriented and the chapel conforms to the house plan, my liturgical east is not far from due east as the bird flies. In my chapel we pray the Eucharistic Prayer facing together the Dawn from on High, Who came to save us and will come again on the clouds of heaven, to judge the living and the dead. He will come from the east.
Maybe you have to live in Ukraine to get excited positively about such. That's why I guess I say for ad Orientem and for my greater context in a Byzantine world, Deo gratias! Maybe this particular elation simply comes from "having my bearings". If that is the case, then I wish it to you all: that you might find your bearings and find yourself inserted in something greater than just the cosmic flow which it is, greater than turning to Mecca or Jerusalem. Turning to the East, Who is our Risen Lord! Alleluia!
I guess I could feel this year's disjuncture over a disparity of 5 weeks in our date for Easter, but at least for this morning common orientation in worship has the upper hand.