Amy Welborn had a very interesting entry at her blog, Charlotte Was Both. She writes about a Mass she attended which wound up with the priest as the focus. Here I jump into the middle of her post with my emphases:
The priest became the center of the Mass – and not in the alter Christus offering sacrifice mode he’s supposed to – and for the rest of us, there was no escaping him.
But I’ve gone over that before in this space. Here’s what struck me this time.
The parish has a special intention for which they are praying to the Virgin.
So after Mass the priest led the people in this prayer to the Virgin for this special intention.
He turned around. Away from the congregation. With them.
He recited the words of this prayer to the Virgin, on his knees facing her statue – which stood in the sanctuary.
He turned , he faced the statue, he prayed.
I could not help but wonder why embracing this stance and this mode of praying which did not deviate from the given, “rote,” prayer one bit – leading us, but in the same direction – was acceptable now, but not during Mass.
When it cam time to pray instead of celebrate together, the instinct was to face the same direction together to the one whom they were addressing. When the priest got himself out of the way, they prayed together.
The imposition of a versus populum position for Mass was probably the single most corrosive thing perpetrated in the name of Conciliar liturgical reform. That was the opinion of the great liturgical scholar Klaus Gamber.
A reorientation of our Catholic identity requires a reorientation of our liturgical worship. One way to help reorient ourselves as a praying Church would be to reorient our altars to the “liturgical East”.