Monday, June 6, 2011

Priests With Their Back to the People?

I'm preparing to publish a post in the near future on the idea of the priest celebrating Mass again with "his back to the people" as people have so commonly (and WRONGLY) labeled that liturgical orientation of the priest. There is a lot of education that needs to take place before this happens, but it should be noted up front that it is really what the Church has envisioned, and that Mass as we see it today in most parishes is woefully off course from where the 2nd Vatican Council seemed to be steering things. Historians say it takes 90 years for everything to sort itself out from a council, so if that's the case, we still have over 40 years to go.

To grease the skids for my owns post, I wanted to share this post from the Vultus Christi blog which Fr. Z. quotes on his blog. To read the excellent post just click here.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, so let's start the dialogue. Questions about what the priest is saying? Questions about what the priest didn't say in his post? Leave a comment and we'll see if we can't get some good dialogue on this topic.


  1. Ad Orientem is such a beautiful practice, and has such a venerable history in the life of the Church. It's wonderful to see this practice making a resurgence! There are several interesting blog posts I've seen on the subject over the last couple of years, and I've attempted compile a short list below:

    First, Father Mark has written on ad orientem before...this earlier posting is also very interesting. Five years of ad Orientem

    Also, there is an interesting post by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, Nuncius to the Antilles: "ad Orientem" will be our saving grace

    Also, Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote last year on the practice of ad Orientem, giving some good historical background: Fr Longenecker on ad orientem worship

    And of course there is Bishop Slattery's decision to celebrate ad Orientem: Bishop of Tulsa: his choice for ad orientem worship

  2. Because I was born in the early '60's, I don't have a memory of the "Latin Mass" or of the people and priest facing the same direction; however, I got to experience the ordinary form of the Mass a year or so ago when Fr. Hollowell opted to celebrate in this way. I was very surprised at the affect this had on me. Instead of feeling excluded (a feeling I had anticipated), I felt much more included in the prayer of the Mass.

    When the priest faces the people, it sometimes seems to me as if he is performing for the congregation--the center of attention is him. When Father faced the same direction as the congregation, it was more obvious to me that he was praying to God with us and on our behalf. It seemed very natural, and I hope this will become a more common practice. Of course, education will be needed, so everyone understands where everyone's focus should be during Mass--the people's as well as the priest's. The last 45 years or so have caused a lot of confusion, and the orientation of the priest in relation to the congregation is only one example.

    Thank you, Father, for the opportunity to experience a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated in this way.