“We praise You, Lord!”

Yes. He has a point.

The great 20th century liturgist Klaus Gamber said that the single most damaging thing done after and in the name of the Council, was the “turning around” of altars.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. FrCharles says:

    One of my classmates at the Boston College School of Theology & Ministry used to insist on translating ‘Mass versus populum‘ as ‘Mass against the people,’ somewhat to the irritation of some of the teachers. He’s now a seminarian.

  2. Maltese says:

    I would say the most damaging aspect of versus populum is the demystification of the sacrificial nature of holy mass. Many masses today carry the air of tent revival, and not the unbloody sacrifice of our Lord.

  3. VexillaRegis says:

    FrCharles: LOL!

  4. benedetta says:


  5. iPadre says:

    As Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) put it, Gamber is a “father” of the true reform needed today.

    EVERY Pope, Bishop, priest and seminarian ought to read Gamber’s “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy”!

  6. romanrevert says:

    As I have told others, versus populum is like talking (or in this case praying) to someone and refusing to make eye contact with them. It is rude.

  7. robtbrown says:

    The medieval description of theology comes to mind. Theology is speaking about God to God. The new liturgy seems to me to be speaking about God to each other.

  8. Deacon Augustine says:

    We had an excellent presentation this weekend on the subject of the Liturgy as “doxa” – glory. Within that, one of the concepts spoken about was the “exitus et reditus” of salvation history and how the liturgy was very much part of that reditus – of returning all to God, glorified and sanctified.

    It seems to me that the sign of the liturgy as reditus, together with the whole eschatological focus and longing for the return of the Son, has been annihilated by the simple turning around of the altars. If any bishop wanted the New Evangelization to be effective, he could do worse than encouraging his priests to turn to the Lord in worship again. The people of God need to know and be part of a Church which is actually heading somewhere again.

  9. Robbie says:

    It’s interesting to read this post in light of the homily one of the deacons at my parish delivered last night. He used his opportunity to speak about what he called the most important success of VCII, the reform of the Liturgy. He praised John XXIII for inviting the laity to actively participate in the Mass and he also praised John for placing the Popes, the bishops, and the priests at the service of the people.

    Very quickly, the homily became a criticism of the way Mass was conducted before the reforms. He said it was boring and people had nothing to do but pray the Rosary (horror!). He also said most people never knew what was going on in the Mass because the priest had his back to the people. He seemed particularly aggrieved by the ad orientem manner of worship and he said it was off putting.

    I’m not sure why the deacon chose the topic, but it was, as I wrote, interesting in light of this post. The deacon finished his homily by praising Francis for his openness to new ways of thinking and for his willingness to keep those who wished the Church to return to its “old ways” at bay.

    It wasn’t one of my favorite homilies.

  10. Legisperitus says:

    “Yoo-hoo, I’m over here!…. Hey!… Hey, you with the chasuble! How come you’re the only one not paying attention here?”

  11. Johnsum says:

    In our parish the “music minister” rules the roost. She starts Mass with welcoming “our regular parishioners and visitors”, then chatters on for some minutes about this and that. Bangs on the piano and sings with great voice all the banal music written since V-2. Last Sunday we even had an Easter hymn (in November). Argues with Father about the liturgy. She evidently is winning the arguments because she has not been fired. In short, the priest, the alter Christus, who is offering the Sacrifice to the Father is made to look a secondary participant in our Masses. She faces the congregation and so is the priest. She is laud, has more to say/sing than the priest who does not chant. Consequently, he appers to be the second most important figure in the liturgy. Turning ad orientem would help to limit the doctrinal confusion about the ministerial priesthood created by her aggressive, performance oriented behavior.

  12. Darren says:

    The more and more I assist at the EF, the more and more this makes sense. I go to Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ about once per month with friends who are regulars there (approx 75 minute drive) … and that is enough of the EF for me to see how wrong so much of what I witness in the OF truly is.

    Pray for me and a friend who have just recently begun the undertaking of finding that stable group and bringing the EF to our area.

  13. Priam1184 says:

    Totally agree with Maltese. The versus populum Mass made it about the priest, as he becomes the center of attention solely by virtue of the layout, and not about the Sacrifice. Very Protestant style and needs to go away. Most church buildings have a built in excuse to refuse the return to ad orientem though: they put the altar on a second raised dais above the first with no space in the front between the edge of the altar and the drop down so there would be no place for a priest to stand where he could reach the top of the altar unless he is 7 foot 9 inches tall. Very clever.

  14. So very true. Honestly, it’s unfortunate that this is even allowed to fester as an academic and optional issue. One would think that the dominant Tradition of the Universal Church in most of her various Rites of Liturgy for the large part of two thousand years would be enough for all to be convinced that just maybe the Holy Spirit knows what He’s doing in teaching the Church how to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice.

  15. Bruce Wayne says:

    Priam1184 is pointing to a huge frustration to me in the fact that the architecture makes reform or change impossible, or at least a huge and expensive undertaking in most parishes. It was a clever/diabolical strategy.

  16. PA mom says:

    The most sensible proposal I have seen was that which contained both. Vs populism for the “teaching” piece and ad orientum for the Eucharist. It is amazing the difference in perception when our priest leads Adoration facing the Host.
    It would also be the most likely to smoothly transition.

  17. Lin says:

    Since most churches were remodeled after VII, they can be remodeled again. When the priest faces the people, he is more apt to feel obligated to insert his own personality into the mass at very inappropriate times. I’m ok with English as opposed to Latin, but it must be standardized and enforced! Follow the rubrics of the mass with no ad libs. And put the tabernacle back on the high alter in the center of the Church! And while we are at it, how about alter rails and priests only distributing the Eucharist. Years ago, only 20% of the parish felt worthy of receiving the Eucharist! Now no one sins, so no need for confession, and everyone receives the Eucharist. Lord, hear our prayer!

  18. pannw says:

    Two summers ago, my diocese was celebrating it’s anniversary which occurred shortly before my priest came to the parish. During the preparations for the Mass which was held at my parish, a seminarian who was helping with them made a comment about our new priest possibly being of the mind to remove the front altar someday and using the spectacular high altar. Of course, I made it known that I thought this a great idea. Well, Father was at the parish for about exactly a year without making the change and informed us that one of the soon to be ordained priests wanted to say his first Mass at our parish and that for this, they would be removing the front altar and he would be saying it ad orientem. Interestingly, the front altar was not replaced after the new priest’s first Mass. Father is so sly!!! (Not that he needed to be, as the vast majority of parishioners would not have minded…in fact the parish is exploding!)

    A few weeks ago, though, I walked into the church and the front altar was back. My heart just sank. I thought Pope Francis had made some sort of directive or something. May he forgive me for jumping to such a conclusion! But Father still said the Mass ad orientem at the high altar, so I was confused, but relieved. I just love the ad orientem Mass, for all the reasons given. Turns out that the bishop was celebrating the White Mass and due to ill health, he is unable to deal with the steps, etc… and so they had returned the front altar. Took a few weeks, but today the front altar was gone again. Deo gratias! I am so blessed.

  19. lana says:

    That homily must have been a real trial for you.  
    But, I love the Rosary and say it daily, but during the Mass one ought to be praying the Mass!  I just bought Fr Lasance’s “My Prayer Book” and it is beautiful, but it is full of prayers to be said during Mass.  Was there a general shortage of Missals back then?  If it is true that people used to spend their time saying  private prayers, then I Am glad the OF has changed that.

    I have a quote from Pope Francis you can share with your deacon, and I think it has bearing on this ad orientem thread:  In the Orthodox Churches, they have retained that pristine liturgy, which is so beautiful.  We have lost some of the sense of adoration.  The Orthodox preserved it; they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time does not matter.  God is at the centre, and I would like to say, as you ask me this question, that this is a richness.  Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the older Church, they said this phrase to me: Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus. (Light comes from the East, and from the West, luxuries. My translation I read somewhere.)  Consumerism, comfort, they have done such harm.  Instead, you retain this beauty of God in the centre, the reference point.  When reading  Dostoevsky – I believe that for all of us he is an author that we must read and reread due to his wisdom – one senses what the Russian soul is, what the eastern soul is. It is something that does us much good.  We need this renewal, this fresh air from the East, this light from the East.  John Paul II wrote about this in his Letter.  But many times the luxus of the West makes us lose this horizon.  I don’t know, but these are the thoughts that come to me.  Thank you.


  20. Priam1184 says:

    @lana Yes we do need to start breathing with both lungs again, and the Orthodox are much better at the Liturgy than we are. We need to take a lesson from all of the Eastern churches. Just a note though: in the days of the Empire all the luxury came from the East, and the Western Latin speaking provinces outside of Rome itself and Carthage were far poorer than those of the East.

  21. Priam1184 says:

    And I am not saying it is impossible to remodel a church building, just that this is something we have to confront parish by parish and brick by brick if worship ad orientem is to return.

  22. Robbie says:

    A trial would be overstating it, but I was very disappointed with the tone. I recognize many are more comfortable with the way things are done today, but there’s no need to make those who prefer a more reverent style of worship feel as though we’re on the outside looking in. As Benedict said, both forms are equal so why not treat it that way?

  23. Transportsjoie says:

    I regularly attend a Byzantine rite parish, where the Divine Liturgy is in Old Slavonic, and also attend the EF which is offered twice a month in my diocese here in Canada. Since basically leaving the NO on Sundays, ( I used to serve as an organist) I am learning what a wonderful holy day Sunday can be. The Divine Liturgy and the Traditional Latin Mass both promote and encourage proper worship of Almighty God by us creatures. These rites leave me feeling complete and at peace, with my spirit at rest, instead of feeling vexed by liturgical chaos, bad music and a too-casual attitude throughout – perhaps the need for the creature to profoundly worship its Creator had not been fulfilled.
    I find that a single Eastern DL and TLM has a weight and a force that stays with me longer than the NO. The whole sensory experience is so powerful that gestures, words, and sounds – not to mention the sublime reception of Holy Communion – continue to resonate.
    I have noticed that in the Eastern rite parish, about 50% receive Holy Communion on normal Sundays – and I’ve heard that the preparation which some people observe is quite elaborate.

  24. lana says:

    @Robbie, Well, just reading about it was a trial for me. Particularly because some of his points are valid ones that I agree with, yet at the same time I prefer the EF. For example, I did initially find the ad orientem to be off-putting, as he says, as if we have no business with what the priest is doing. But thanks to the OF I know that I -am- supposed to be reading and praying along, ( Pius X said we are supposed to read and pray along) and that got me over it. I now prefer ad orientem.

    Anyways, I was happy to read that the Pope would like to restore the sense of adoration and God-centeredness that we have lost, and perhaps ad orientem is the way to start. Or rather, return to what VII originally intended because if I understand correctly, it was not said anywhere in VII that the altars should be turned around.

  25. Two items tie for the second most damaging thing done to the Mass: (1) lousy music; (2) microphones.

  26. Pumpkin Eater says:

    These cartoons are silly! In both, the altar is bare. We don’t go to mass to praise a man-made crucifix on a wall. We go to witness and worship his real presence on the altar.

  27. Rich Leonardi says:

    Commenting on the turning around of the altars after VII, the late Evelyn Waugh wrote, ‘The Mass is no longer the Holy Sacrifice but the Meal at which the priest is the waiter. The bishop, I suppose, is the head waiter.”

  28. joan ellen says:

    Transportsjoie says:
    ” The Divine Liturgy and the Traditional Latin Mass both promote and encourage proper worship of Almighty God by us creatures. These rites leave me feeling complete and at peace, with my spirit at rest, instead of…”
    Priam1184 says:
    “this is something we have to confront parish by parish and brick by brick if worship ad orientem is to return.”
    I am going to make ad orientem a constant prayer. Please God, help ad orientem, in each parish, to return a.s.a.p.

  29. lana says:

    Miss Anita, I vote for drive-through communions as the most damaging.

    I like PA Mom’s suggestion.

  30. Imrahil says:

    the Orthodox are much better at the Liturgy than we are.

    As they kept their liturgy (and so did, out of patriotism, the Eastern Catholics), yes.

    Compared to the Old Mass, I wonder.

    There is something to be said about “Roman brevity” and all that… if it is not taken to extremes.

  31. Michael_Thoma says:

    Any deacon, priest or bishop who has an issue with celebrating the Liturgy facing East has a serious theological defect and – dare I say – is unfit to stay in their clerical state without correcting this error. Of course, there are examples and circumstances were facing West is desirable, or even preferable due to various needs, but to deride the authentic Tradition of the universal Church, East, West – Roman, Greek, Copt, Syriac, Armenian, Assyrian, Ethiopian, Indian, etc – with no idea of the ramifications. I don’t think anyone who says this is qualified to lead a public discussion regarding the Church, let alone the Liturgy. For what it’s worth, Very Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Robert Taft, SJ of the Russicum, would have a field day with him – he wouldn’t we worthy of a response nor dialogue, just a public thrashing. If there was a “ignore” list in life, he would be on it!

  32. LadyMarchmain says:

    Fr Charles, still laughing!

    Darren, may I ask where you are located geographically? I’m also within driving distance of Mater Ecclesiae (about 90 minutes for me) and I would like to help if I can.

  33. Austin Catholics says:

    This is another pet cause of the conservative types that I just don’t understand. And I was just thinking about this very issue this morning at Mass. I’ve never been to a Mass where the priest faced away, but it ran through my mind this morning how weird that would be.

    God isn’t OUT THERE. He’s everywhere, and we see Him most clearly in other people. The architecture of this church – which I love – has 270-degree seating so if I sit on the side I see the altar right in front of me and other parishoners on the other side. This is so much better than the old style churches where the altar is up on a stage and all the parishoners face the same direction. But at least with that set up the priest faces the crowd.

    God isn’t just OUT THERE. He’s IN HERE.

    [Wow. You need to keep working on this. I suggest reading Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy and Lang’s Turing Towards the Lord.]

  34. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate,

    The top version as a cartoon makes ad orientem look rather like idol worship. [?!?!?]

    Its something I’ve encountered before talking to people about ad orientem. There seems to be this mentality among some that it is better because the priest is facing the crucifix or the tabernacle. [?!?!?] In my opinion, these are both very fine lines to be walking. Better, in my opinion, to stick with the ideas of “liturgical East” and “everybody in the same direction”.

    All that said, I do appreciate the ad orientem mass, and see the value of a crucifix as a reminder of why we are there.

  35. mburn16 says:

    “The most sensible proposal I have seen was that which contained both. Vs populism for the “teaching” piece and ad orientum for the Eucharist.”

    This. The sacrifice is offered to God by the people – therefore it makes sense to “face God” when offering the sacrifice. That said, however, the Mass also contains scriptural elements that are to teach and instruct the faithful in Christian life…..in which case, Ad Orientum isn’t “like” talking to someone without looking them in the eye, it IS talking to them without looking them in the eye.

    Of course the cartoons simply the debate a little too much for my liking. The sacrifice, whether Orientum or Populum, is still “we offer this to you [God]”. Although I would say AO places the emphasis on “offer” and “you [God]”, whereas AP places the emphasis on the “we” and the “this”. AP is, at its heart, I believe, the result of attempts to make the people feel more active in the Mass.

    Perhaps, in the end, we could solve the debate by building most churches “in the round” or with seating in transepts immediately to the side of the altar. Probably not, since trying to please everybody usually pleases nobody, but just a thought.

    Personally, I have few qualms with either form – I want to hear the sacrifice being offered….I don’t need to physically watch every movement.

  36. Pumpkin Eater says:

    Sorry Austin, can’t agree with you either. The priest and the congregation should and do face the altar, but not necessarily each other. Yes, God is everywhere, in everyone and in everything, but it’s at the altar that we make our offering and where the Holy Eucharist is effected. That is where our focus needs to be and where the priest’s focus needs to be. I would imagine, but don’t know for sure, that it could be a distraction for the priest to be facing the people at the same time he is offering our gifts and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus to God.

  37. lana says:

    Austin Catholic,

    Yes, it seems very strange to start with. But with time you see it is better. I can’t put my finger on why. I had never gone to an EF Mass before a year ago. Let me see if I can explain why….
    1. The priest and his personality recedes- you cannot see his face or hear his voice most of the time. This lets you focus more on God.
    2. You cannot see what he is doing. At first I did not like this, but over time you stop trying to watch him and you focus on the prayers in the missal, which you can say as slowly as you need to to be able to pray them well.
    3. There is an aura of mystery about it. There was a recent video on this blog from a college girl that explained it well. Seeing the actions and hearing the simplified vernacular makes you -think- you understand what is going on. To a certain extent, you do, but in fact it is a great mystery. The fact that you cannot see what the priest is doing accentuates the mystery.
    4. At first, the priest seems remote. Once you get over this, you see him as leading the worship towards God, and it is beautiful. This part I can’t explain. I guess I prefer to look at a beautiful altar than at people. My fraternal charity is not that perfect yet. :)

    I did not get any of that the first few times. I was too busy figuring out what was going on at the start. If you ever go to one, be prepared for a level of discomfort and keep trying. It is worth the effort.

  38. mburn16 says:

    “There is an aura of mystery about it. ”

    Its interesting, in my mind, how traditionalists – who probably still have the best retention of God, Christ, the sacrifice, and the Eucharist as literal things, rather than abstract concepts or figurative metaphors, are also the quickest to seek out elements that increase the mysterious aura. Of course God’s power is mysterious….but God is also a literal being (albeit a divine and omnipotent one). The sacrifice, we believe, is not simply a memorial or symbolism, but the real transformation of bread and wine into body and blood.

    I love the beauty of the EF, and the dignity, and the reverence. But I’m far from convinced that it isn’t a good thing for people to be able to hear what the Priest is saying, see what the Priest is doing, and in general be a witness in every sense to the act.

  39. Austin Catholics, God is everywhere, but Jesus is truly present in a special way in the Eucharist. Clearly, whoever is supposed to be teaching Catholics in certain places about the Real Presence is lying down on the job.

  40. mburn16 says:

    “Austin Catholics, God is everywhere, but Jesus is truly present in a special way in the Eucharist.”

    ….yes, Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, but I’m not convinced that’s an effective argument for AO. Applying the real presence to the cartoon above, we should see the Priest with the host in his hand, saying not “we praise you Lord”, but “behold the body of our savior Jesus Christ” – in which case, having all people focused on the host as the center of attention, with the Priest viewing it from one side, and the people from the other, actually seems to make a great deal of sense.

  41. Michael_Thoma says:


    Why can’t the people focus on Christ in the Eucharist while facing East with the priest? He holds up Christ so that the people may worship.

    I think the major problem with the modern (protestantized) styled Western Liturgy and those Eastern Catholics who mimic the West, is the idea of the priest “acting in persona Christi” to the exclusion of the unique and special action of the Holy Spirit. When you focus on the Holy Spirit acting through the priest to consecrate and perfect the bread and wine to the Body of Christ, through the prayers of the priest (primarily) and the people TOGETHER, this idea that the people need to be “doing something” to “participate” goes away. The idea that we need something called “charismatic catholics” goes away too, since these special gifts that they think they are so special in receiving is actually received in the Sacraments (which are direct actions of the Holy Spirit in the world). The Western Liturgy somehow diminished the active role of the Holy Spirit, while there are acknowledgements of the Spirit’s presence, the actual role is very muted compared to any of the Eastern Liturgies. This, I think, is why there is a much less natural pull toward these “charismatic gifts” and other innovations from 60s-era American pentecostalism, from the Eastern Churches (of course, you can always find some Easterners somewhere attempting to mimic the Latins and do this in a very awkward and ridiculous way, I’m sure its on YouTube somewhere).

    When the actions of the Holy Spirit are emphasized in all the Sacraments, especially the Liturgy, this idea that the priest is performing should diminish. Turn the priest toward the action of the Holy Spirit, along with the people who he represents to God.

  42. St. Rafael says:

    “There seems to be this mentality among some that it is better because the priest is facing the crucifix or the tabernacle”


    Well, what do you actually think is inside the tabernacle?

  43. catholictrad says:

    The very idea that the Church followed the “Revolt” into Cranmer’s table is incredibly sad. Consider all the holy souls who died for the holy mass. Michael Davies wrote thousands of pages in his career detailing the effort of the Modernists to destroy the Faith. They won’t succeed, but they will take many souls with them, both those they fool and those who fight back with hate.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear @AustinCatholic, this is the particular thing I understood from the onset (of real thinkinh about it that is). So I’m perhaps not goog at explaining.

    Anyway, if you look at someone, you adress the one you look at. While it is true that God is everywhere, when talking to God and not to the congregation, we shoul not face the Congregation. Which is why we face Heaven, or the liturgical East, or a Cross, or the Tabernacle, or even in private prayer the floor, rather than look in each other’s eye.

    (This is no iron rule. A priest can substitute ist by looking at the Altar’s Cross – which, at the very least minimum, shoul then face the priest and not the congregation. If the Pope faces the real East and perhaps also in an attached signification of his papal office, that is not wrong.)

    Dear @Salvatore Giuseppe,
    it is, of course, nor idol worship precisely because it is not an idol that is worshipped. Looking like idol worship, only not to an idol, is not a bad thing.
    (Just as the somewhat only reason we do not call Transsubstantiation magical is that it is not occult, but a miracle.)

    Dear @mburn16,
    there are reasons the Canon should be silent, but I agree I prefer to hear the Words of the Lord which are forma sacramenti. Some priests do speak them louder.

    As for the lectures, they are primarily praise to God for his glorious deeds. Sometimes they are therefore repeated afterward in the vernacular, facing the Congregation.

  45. Jim of Bowie says:

    Miss Anita Moore, O.P.,
    Glad to see you posting again.

    If it’s Cranmer’s table, it’s ironic that Novus Ordo parishes use versus populum while Anglican, Anglican Use and Ordinariate parishes use ad orientem.

  46. mr205 says:

    Granted, I’m a newbie to the Church, but it seems to me this is an issue that is way to emotionally charged for widespread discussion for at least another generation. In my local St. Thomas More Society meeting, “the bad old days,” where the “Priest’s back was to the people,” were recently discussed by several attorneys who were children prior to Vatican II. In RCIA, Father, who is in his 90s, said he absolutely refuses to celebrate the “old rite” and would “never turn his back to the people again.” My generation, I believe, is open to such ideas if properly explained.

  47. Imrahil says:

    Please excuse all the terrible spelling mistakes. I was writing from smartphone…

    Also, I seem to have forgotten to explain properly my point in my second paragraph. I said that “we look at the one we address”, which is true. But the reason for looking not at each other (where, it is true, God can also be found, by omnipresence and even by that Mt bible verse about the two or three assembled together in His name), is that, vice versa, we cannot but feel that we are adressing the one we are looking at. Which here we are not.

    (This is the end of that explanation of my point, so what follows are merely some additional thoughts.)

    A OF parish I sometimes attend has the custom to have the Mass, in general, versus populum, however the readers of the Prayers of the Faithful read them in an ad orientem position. I take this as somewhat circumstantial evidence: if we are addressing God and praying for something, we do not look as to others we are praying together with.

    But all of Mass is prayer.

    When I was a child, my teacher of religion asked me what the difference between a Church and a chapel was. I said instantly that in the chapel they did more praying. I was, of course, justly corrected instantly, and I might even then have already known myself that Mass is prayer and it was kind-of wrong what I said… but still. Why do we feel a sort of difference?

  48. LadyMarchmain says:

    The elevation, as I understand it, is offering the sacrifice to God. This is so very clear in AO worship, whereas in VP, this aspect is vastly diminished so that we are being shown something that is offered to us.

    Austin’s response is understandable, as he or she has never seen anything different. The strange thing will always seem weird and contrary to what Austin has gleaned and learned (correctly) from the NO–he or she understands exactly what the NO conveys.

    Every Catholic should be familiar, though, with the historic EF rite, the Church’s liturgy throughout history. So please, Austin, do try to go!

  49. Giuseppe says:

    @Miss Anita Moore OP – re. microphones. See this article on hearing Mass while hearing impaired.


  50. mburn16 says: Applying the real presence to the cartoon above, we should see the Priest with the host in his hand, saying not “we praise you Lord”, but “behold the body of our savior Jesus Christ” – in which case, having all people focused on the host as the center of attention, with the Priest viewing it from one side, and the people from the other, actually seems to make a great deal of sense.

    In fact, at the “Ecce Agnus Dei…” in the E.F. Mass, the priest is holding up the Host and facing the people.

    One small point. It is not immemorial customs but innovations that should have to be justified. Celebrating Mass ad orientem does not count as an innovation.

  51. Nathan says:

    I do have a question about this, aimed primarily to the good priest readers (sorry to join in this discussion so late): I have heard, for many years, about the good reasons for offering Holy Mass in the OF ad orientem, but, other than in occasions that I have learned of that I can number on my fingers, haven’t seen it actually implemented. I think it is fair to say that it is much, much easier to find a TLM than an OF Mass offered ad orientem.

    Given that there is no positive liturgical law in force, at least in the USA, prohibiting the OF from being offered ad orientem, and given that the rubrics themselves are written for exactly that orientation by the celebrant (i.e., “the celebrant turns to the people and says…”), what is keeping so many good, holy priests from doing what good Pope Benedict (when he was Card. Ratzinger) told them they ought to do?

    I don’t mean the question as rhetorical, or a “zinger” at all. There has to be a reason why this practice isn’t occuring in the OF, and I’ve wondered for a number of years what the explanation might be, given the amount of ink spent in the past decade on the subject.

    In Christ,

  52. av8er says:

    Mr205 said; ” My generation, I believe, is open to such ideas if properly explained.”
    I agree 100%. There is a great lack of proper explanation of a great many things in the Church. This being one of them.
    To the cartoons themselves, the first one looks like the guy in charge is leading the rest, kind of like a shepherd leading a flock. Hmmmm… While the second looks like a guy giving a lecture about Christian related things.
    I strongly believe that posture, whether individual or as a group means something. Priests and deacons when they recieve Holy Orders, are prostrate during they’re Mass. When we kneel in the Novus Ordo, it means something. If, as the Body of Christ, is oriented (intended) a certain way, it means something.

  53. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    On this 1787th anniversary of the consecration of the old St. Peter’s (and 487th of the new), it is interesting to think that it was (if I am not mistaken) so constructed and its interior so arranged, that literal ad orientem celebration always meant ad populum celebration as well!

    Was that so for every celebration during the 1157 years from the completion of the old in 349, until the beginning if the new in 1506, or even longer? And do we know, or have good surmises as to, how the Popes while celebrating ad orientem ad populum avoided all the problems considered above?

    (Incidentally, an interesting edition entitled Ordo Romanus Primus (1905) is available at the Internet Archive.)

  54. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Surely Imrahil is right in saying “There is something to be said about ‘Roman brevity’ and all that…” as well as about the excellences of the Liturgies of St. John and St. Basil – and (I expect, though I have no experience, equally) about those of the Liturgies of St. James and St. Mark!

  55. Dixit PumpkinEater, These cartoons are silly! In both, the altar is bare. We don’t go to mass to praise a man-made crucifix on a wall. We go to witness and worship his real presence on the altar.

    Alright, where shall we sketch in the Tabernacle?

  56. Gratias says:

    Mrs. Gratias and I just returned from a trip to Paris. There the destruction of the altars has been extraordinary. What the Modernists do is to wreckovate the churches. They place altars the size of a double wide teabox at the center of the transept in cruciform gothic churches. Notre Dame has an awful box with four stylized human shapes on the front. But what happened to the St. Germain dès Près Abbey is worse. They used a six million Euro grant from the city of Paris to supposedly restore the building to create an elevated platform with one of these awful altar-boxes at the very center of the transept. The box is surrounded by chairs on three sides, a sort of almost circular theater. The situation was even worse at an ancient parish just across the Pantheon. It houses the tomb of Sainte Geneviève and Blaise Pascal but even so did not escape the depredations of Vatican Council II priests. The transept has a platform with double-wide teabox surrounded by seating on all four sides. What they did was to turn the pews in the choir so they face the front instead of the main altar at the abside or back of the church, where the tabernacle is. So, the faithful would sit with their backs to the consecrated host. This was one of the finest high Middle Ages parishes in Paris. Only three years ago we were there for a beautiful Eucharistic adoration and the pews were positioned in exactly the opposite direction. I got so hopping mad that my dear wife threatened with not accompanying me to any new churches while on vacation. On other trips we had seen similar destruction of the altars in the Catholic Churches of Germany, for example in the Cathedral of Würzburg.

    I think the USA is to the present what Ireland was to the Middle Ages. Latin America can be written off because the Latin Mass has been very effectively suppressed with the one exception of Guadalajara, Mexico.

  57. JonPatrick says:

    To answer Nathan’s question from yesterday, I can think of a couple of reasons why we don’t see Ad Orientem in the OF.

    1) Many sanctuaries have been wreckovated to an extent that there is no altar to offer the Mass this way. Often the new altars/tables are placed so that there is no room in front for the celebrant to offer the Mass from there, and the old altars in the back have been removed, replaced by chairs, potted plants, etc.

    2) Unless a lot of care is taken to educate the congregation and ease them into it, people would be upset and raise a ruckus, the Chancery would be getting calls, etc. Might happen even if care is taken to educate.

  58. Darren says:

    Re: LadyMarchmain says:
    Darren, may I ask where you are located geographically? I’m also within driving distance of Mater Ecclesiae (about 90 minutes for me) and I would like to help if I can.

    LadyMarchmain: Toms River, Diocese of Trenton…. yes, Ocean County… the land of many new Nomadic Tent and other warehouse and futuristic new churches! :) [but some beautiful older ones as well]

  59. Liturgy says:

    I too, Father, stumbled over this cartoon. I am advocating a new term: in circuitu altaris



  60. lana says:

    Darren, have you been to St. Anthony’s in Hamilton (in Trenton)?

  61. Uxixu says:

    The concept of ad orientem is more easily misunderstood (if not misrepresented) by those who’ve only attended the Novus Ordo and don’t know that the priest WILL turn around for the parts of the liturgy where it’s appropriate (to address the congregation) and doesn’t address facing the Deacon or Subdeacon, Asperges, incensing, etc in the Solemn Mass. The sacred silence has always moved me, even when I first beheld the Extraordinary Form.

  62. Darren says:

    Re: lana : Darren, have you been to St. Anthony’s in Hamilton (in Trenton)?

    No, but December 1 at St. John the Baptist in Allentown is on my schedule. I have gone to Mater Ecclesiae because I go there with friends, and because the high mass there is earlier, at 11 AM. Allentown is closer to 45 minutes from me, where Hamilton is an hour.

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