Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Mass "Ad Orientem"?

Mass "Ad Orientem" (The Priest Facing the East) or, as it is typically referred to falsely as "The priest celebrating Mass with his back to the people", is the way 22 of the 23 Catholic Rites celebrate Mass EXCLUSIVELY.

Some in the Latin Church advocate celebrating the Mass "versus populum" or with the priest facing the people.

And some dioceses in the United States have started REQUIRING Mass be celebrated by the priest "facing the people" sighting the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraph 299.

Father Z has written over and over again about how the translation of paragraph 299 of the GIRM, and the subsequent request for clarification sent to Rome on GIRM 299, expressly forbids dioceses from banning Mass celebrated by the priest "With his back to the people"

I quote from some of his article below:

GIRM 299 actually says that what is desirable, when possible, is that the altar be separated from the wall, not that Mass be versus populum.

The GIRM 299 in Latin from the Vatican: "Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit."

The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out. (Emphases added)

THAT’s what the Latin really says.

On 25 September 2000 the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a clarification (Prot. No. 2036/00/L) regarding 299 in the Latin GIRM. That clarification, Responsum, says:

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in n. 299 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which the position of the priest versus absidem [ad orientem] is to be excluded. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds: Negatively, and in accordance with the following explanation.

The explanation includes different elements which must be taken into account. First, the word expedit does not constitute a strict obligation but a suggestion that refers to the construction of the altar a pariete sejunctum(detached from the wall).  It does not require, for example, that existing altars be pulled away from the wall. The phrase ubi possibile sit (where it is possible) refers to, for example, the topography of the place, the availability of space, the artistic value of the existing altar, the sensibility of the people participating in the celebrations in a particular church, etc.

Expedit refers to a suggestion about the construction of the altar.  It is suggested that, where possible (depending on the topography of the sanctuary, etc.) there be an altar that can be used from either side, that can be used for versus populum Masses.  It does NOT say that versus populum is preferable."

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