GIRM WARS: Another front opens in Iowa

Francis_Ad_OrientemWhen the 2000 GIRM was issued (now usually cited as 2002 GIRM because it is in the 2002 Missale Romanum), a question was put to the Congregation for Divine Worship: Can a bishop, in his role as moderator of the Sacred Liturgy in the diocese, forbid ad orientem worship?

On 10 April 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued an official response (Protocol No. 564/00/L) about GIRM 299 (my emphases):

This dicastery wishes to state that Holy Mass may be celebrated versus populum or versus apsidem. Both positions are in accord with liturgical law; both are to be considered correct.
There is no preference expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favor of law, the legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.

In a nutshell, bishops can’t overrule universal laws, including rubrics.  Bishops cannot forbid legitimate options.

The rubrics of the modern Roman Rite, the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form, do NOT favor celebration of Holy Mass versus populum, so-called “facing the people”.

That said, one bishop after another is tumbling headlong into the trap laid in the purposeful mistranslation of GIRM 299.   More HERE.  Alas, most bishops these days did not have any training in Latin before, during or after seminary, including those trained after the 1983 Code of Canon Law laid down in can. 249 says that seminarians are to be be “very well-trained” (bene calleant) in Latin.

We are now beginning to see what damage can be done when clerics depend on translations.

The mistranslators, and those who are in the trap pit with them, say that GIRM 299 reads in such a way as to favor Mass “facing the people”.  The false, erroneous translation reads:

299. The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. …

No. That last clause, introduced by the relative pronoun quod, does not refer to the orientation of the celebration of Mass.  Rather, it refers to the first clause and separation of the altar from the wall.  And I refer everyone to the quote from the Congregation at the top of this post.

What does 299 really say?

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 at it.

Recently in the Diocese of Little Rock, the local bishop sent a letter to priests in which he says that he “expects” that priests will say Mass “facing the people” because of what GIRM 299 says.  HERE  He didn’t try to impose that, because, well, he can’t.  Bishops cannot forbid the legitimate option of ad orientem worship and impose Mass “facing the people” only.  However, they can torture priests who say Mass ad orientem in a thousand ways.  But that would be abuse of power.  And that would be something new, wouldn’t it!

Now I read that another bishop, in Davenport, IA, has written to priests. HERE  He cites, again, the erroneous English version of 299 and then writes: “To be clear, this is the posture [“facing the people”] that priests are to take when celebrating the liturgy (in the Ordinary Form) in the Diocese of Davenport.”

Ad-Orientem-Cartoon-Meme-640x578BTW… Bp.  Amos says that the “normative” posture is “better”. Why? Because the priest and the assembly are “facing the altar together”.  Ummmm….

While Bp. Amos’ language doesn’t seem to rise to the level of a formal decree, and the letter isn’t framed in a juridical form, the bishop takes a step beyond that of the Bishop of Little Rock.

The good news – if there is good news in this development – is that some bishops might issue preemptive statements like this because they think priests will listen to The Sarah Appeal™!

Here’s the deal.

It is surreal to have to write this, but we now have to defend ad orientem worship in the Roman Catholic Church!

To be clear, while we have to acknowledge that versus populum celebration is an option in the rubrics (as it also is and was in the Extraordinary Form), given our tradition, ecclesial realities today and, yes, rubrics, I agree with Card. Sarah and strongly believe ad orientem would be of great benefit to the whole Church.  

I and others, therefore, are left with the bizarre task of writing again and again that ad orientem worship cannot presently be prohibited.  And neither can be versus populum!  

It is unfortunate that the poor English (and Italian, etc.) translation of GIRM 299 lead unsuspecting bishops and priests to think that worship versus populum, “is desirable whenever possible.” It was this very confusion that lead to the submission of the question, the dubium,  to the Congregation some 16 years ago and, consequently, to the official response which I quoted at the top.  Back then, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (who was not acting merely as a private citizen, btw…) made clear that, according to the law, Holy Mass in the Novus Ordo could be celebrated in either position.

Two final points.

Confusion flows from the poor English and Italian translation. However, the French, German and Polish managed to get it right!

FRENCH: (299) Il convient, partout où c’est possible, que l’autel soit érigé à une distance du mur qui permette d´en faire aisément le tour et d´y célébrer face au peuple.

GERMAN: (299) Der Altar ist von der Wand getrennt zu errichten, so dass man ihn leicht umschreiten und die Feier an ihm dem Volk zugewandt vollzogen werden kann. Das empfiehlt sich überall, wo es möglich ist.

POLISH: (299) Ołtarz winien być zbudowany w oddaleniu od ściany, aby łatwo można było obchodzić go dookoła i celebrować przy nim w stronę ludu. Wypada go tak umieścić wszędzie, gdzie to jest możliwe.
PORTUGUESE (299) Onde for possível, o altar deve ser construído afastado da parede, de modo a permitir andar em volta dele e celebrar a Missa de frente para o povo. Pela sua localização, há-de ser o centro de convergência, para o qual espontaneamente se dirijam as atenções de toda a assembleia dos fiéis.

But I, friends, don’t need translations to be able to read 299, and neither should any other priest or bishop of the LATIN Church.

Next, way back in 1969, when the first Novus Ordo Missal was released, the 1969 GIRM 262 (the predecessor of 2002 GIRM 299) said:

262. Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit.

The main altar should be built separated from the wall, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out at it.

Note well that the pesky quod clause, which has caused such confusion in the 2002 version, is absent.

So, you might be asking, WHY was that quod clause inserted into the 2002 version?  It was probably an attempt – ham-fisted – to curtail the wide-spread destruction of existing altars that was going on.  There is NO LEGISLATION that requires that existing altars be reworked or destroyed or detached or chopped off or … anything.  That quod clause expresses a suggestion that, if it is possible, altars should be constructed far enough from the wall that they can be circumnavigated and Mass can be said from either side. That’s it.

Fr. Z’s position: All things being equal, ad orientem worship is superior, but both ad orientem and versus populum are provided for in the rubrics of the Ordinary Form. Attempts to forbid ad orientem worship today are based both on erroneous scholarship from decades ago that promoted versus populum worship (later repudiated by some of the scholars who proposed it), and on bad translations of present day liturgical legislation (which were subsequently clarified the Congregation for Divine Worship).

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Prayerful says:

    One thing which was very offensive to many was how Church legislation was interpreted to thrash and destroy beautiful work paid out of the pennies of parishioners. A person can search online for many example of dreadful wreckovations, of which one of the worst elements was destruction of so many altars.

    I am sure many of those anti-ad orientem bishops know full well what GIRM 299 says and doesn’t say. The thing is, they don’t like ad orientem worship. They think it unpastoral. Any priest who defies this episcopal whim will experience the ‘thousand ways’ he can be tormented.

    [A good point was made here. Millions of the faithful gave their pennies and contributed labor to build churches. Even were the erroneous scholarship turned out to have been true… even if there were legislation that more forcefully indicated that altars should be detached from the wall, clerics came along and, without so much as a “by your leave” trashed what God’s people gave.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Jackie L says:

    It is interesting that we are now in a position where it is easier to celebrate a TLM than it is to celebrate an ad orientem NO mass.

    [Perhaps this will push more priests to learn how to say the TLM!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. Ralph says:

    Well this is a supreme disappointment to say the least. I just moved to the Diocese of Davenport! I had hoped I might find the Bishop somewhat more accommodating to tradition than the one I just departed. Guess not.

    I’m only about 50 miles to the diocesan territory of the Extraordinary Ordinary. Perhaps I may have to look at a Sunday drive.

  4. CPT TOM says:

    Jackie L. It’s funny you bring that up….in our parish our NO Latin/English Chant Mass was suddenly canceled…so, the group (schola, and other laity) that used to support that Mass have moved on to becoming our Parish’s Latin Mass Society, For a few reasons: 1) It was too difficult to get the Parish to cooperate with doing the Chant Mass, correctly 2) there were willing young Priests from other parishes happy to celebrate Vetus Ordo Masses, and 3) Because of Summorum Pontificum they were told by the Chancery they can’t say no if we have priests willing and able to say the VO Mass. We continue our occasional Sunday and Monthly First Friday Masses. Brick by brick

  5. TNCath says:

    As many have said before: the single most disruptive change in the Mass was not so much the change from Latin to the vernacular as it was the position in which the Mass was offered. With the change from ad orientem to versus populum, there was also a change in the understanding of what the Mass was all about.

    Consequently and unfortunately, the two issues that are generally true about this change are as follows:

    1. Most bishops truly believe that Vatican II mandated the “versus populum” orientation.

    2. The vast majority of bishops truly prefer the “versus populum” orientation.

    They don’t care about what “quod” means. They don’t care about any other documents that argue for ad orientem worship. They don’t care what Pope Benedict said. They don’t care what Cardinal Sarah said. They don’t care that daily Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica are said ad orientem. They don’t care about legislative texts or anything else that argues otherwise. THEY. JUST. DON’T. CARE. They (the Pope included) will spin it however they wish to do so for their advantage. They want what they want when and how they want it.

    So, what does a priest do? He stays under the radar, offering Masses versus populum on Sundays and weekdays. When the occasion arises that he is able to do so, he offers Mass ad orientem. If someone complains, fine. If a bishop complains, fine. What’s the bishop really going to do? Fire him? With the dire priest shortage we have in most dioceses, the worst he can do (as long as the priest stays out of other trouble otherwise) is put him in some obscure parish somewhere, which may turn out to be a blessing in the long run.

    What are the laity to do? Go to Mass (ad orientem or versus populum, go to confession, comfort the afflicted, say your prayers, look after your fellow man, and stay out of the way. Keep your eyes on the prize of heaven and wait patiently (it may take awhile) for a new pope to sort this all out.

    There is just not much more anyone can do at this point. Just watch and wait.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I just realized there are two fine recent articles by Dr. Leroy Huizenga, on of which Fr. Z linked earlier (15 July) and another which I do not think he has happened to link yet, namely:

    In this one, he says, “Catholics are people of reason, and so it would be helpful if someone could demonstrate how the rubrics or the GIRM demand (or merely favor) versus populum and forbid (or merely tolerate) the ad orientem posture. […] One does not find them [those who disdain the ad orientem posture] making good rational arguments about the meaning and import of the rubrics and the GIRM, to say nothing of broader theological and liturgical principles.”

    If TNCath is correct in thinking “The vast majority of bishops truly prefer the ‘versus populum’ orientation” (even where there is no question of disdain for the ad orientem posture), it would be good to try, seriously and respectfully, to elicit good rational arguments about why, in fact, they (and any so minded) prefer the ‘versus populum’ orientation. Learning (and teaching) together in civil discussion is something almost anyone can at least try to do at this point.

  7. majuscule says:

    After hearing The Sarah Appeal™ a priest I know who had just become parish administrator set up the table altar with six candles and a crucifix.

    A friend was telling me that he told Father that there were so many candles on the altar that it would be difficult to see the priest. And Father agreed! That was the idea.

    (To be clear, the friend was not complaining!)

  8. jbazchicago says:

    Bishop Amos taught Latin at my college seminary. He knows better,

  9. Chatto says:

    So that’s…what…3 or 4 letters from bishops to their diocese, de facto banning ad orientam OF Masses. Where’s the one saying, “Fathers, check out Cardinal Sarah’s idea. Think about it. Any help you need, any advice about introducing this to the flock I’ve placed in your care, let me know. Yours in Christ, +His Nibs.”?

    I think we only need one to cheer us up a bit, don’t we?

  10. RobS says:

    This bishop will celebrate his 75th birthday in early December. Just a thought.

  11. rdschreiner says:

    I brought this up with the Rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul and needless to say, we won’t be seeing ad orientem at the high altar anytime while he is around. He has celebrated TLM and Novus Ordo ad orientem at other parishes and definitely knows and loves Latin (Father Z knows him). He mentioned that Cardinal Sarah’s comments were out of line with Pope Francis’ vision for the Church and honestly, doesn’t want to get into fights with the new Archbishop or the inevitable parishioners or visitors who might complain.

  12. Didacus says:

    Fr. Z, in Portuguese, the translation also states expressly “where possible”:

    299. Onde for possível, o altar deve ser construído afastado da parede, de modo a permitir andar em volta dele e celebrar a Missa de frente para o povo. Pela sua localização, há-de ser o centro de convergência, para o qual espontaneamente se dirijam as atenções de toda a assembleia dos fiéis.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. allenmurphy says:

    I think whether the translation says where possible or expressing a preference for versus populum is a distinction without a difference. Clearly misguided GIRM folks want(ed) mass facing the people. Also even though mass ad orientem or versus populum has equal objective weight that does not preclude an ordinary from citing ” pastoral reasons” for wanting his priests to celebrate versus populum. The problem is that bishops do not understand or have a grounding in the liturgical benefits of ad orientem

  14. jhayes says:

    I think Fr. Hunwicke has the answer:

    Let’s be human about this. I could understand a bishop pointing out in a kindly way that Facing The Other Way might cause hassle and dissension in a parish; and asking whether it was really worth the trouble. His judgement might very well be correct. He does have a responsibility in his diocese for Liturgy and for peace and harmony. I could understand it if he said “I would very much prefer that you didn’t do it without having a chat with me”. Or even “I’m the one who will have to pick up the pieces, and I’ve only got one secretary”.

    Which is consistent with what the CDW said in another part of the April 10, 2000 response. [That’s not all Fr. H said about this. Everyone, go read the rest HERE.]

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    “I am sure many of those anti-ad orientem bishops know full well what GIRM 299 says and doesn’t say. The thing is, they don’t like ad orientem worship.”

    Another factor may be that many bishops likely are focused more on finances than liturgy. They may personally not have strong liturgical preferences, either way, but fear a decline in donations and attendance if marginal Catholics react adversely to ad orientem, or to Latin, or to kneeling for communion, or to . . .. But they know that faithful and committed Catholics, even if refused the more reverent liturgy they prefer, will continue to “pray, pay, and obey”.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, the Davenport Diocese is my home parish. I have suffered the abuses and wreckovations as well as personal antipathy from some priests in the past, for my stands when working in a Catholic College and parishes when I was in some authority, on issues like inter-communion, abortion or contraceptive counseling on campus, new age retreat centers, and false teaching in the theology classes as well as from permanent deacons, who publicly taught contraception as a given, ssm as ok and women priests as a sure thing for the future…One famous priest in that diocese who is now in his late 80s told me point blank that his generation joined the priesthood and I quote, “to make the Church more Protestant”. They succeeded. Father Z, you may remember the horrible closing of a classical church in Clinton, where the pastor himself axed a precious oak reredos made by German craftsman. My own family on both sides, maternal and paternal, gave much money to several parishes in the old days for traditional ornamentation and more, some of which no one can account for as lost.

    This diocese has a long history of the heresy of Americanism, Marxism, and Modernism, noted most especially in an article I linked below, but also in the fact that the diocese has the 4th largest pay-out for pedophile and homosexual activity among priests

    The majority of priests see the Latin Mass, as one told me, as “divisive”. It is a wonder that there is one in the city

    One only needs to look at this list of award winner of the highest honor given from this diocese to understand that Davenport has been for my entire life a center of rebellion and heresy. Liturgies have been “cleaned up” recently, but there is still a great barrier to both what the Vatican advises, and tradition. Therefore, what Bishop Amos writes is in keeping with the atmosphere in this diocese.

    Needless to say, in my adult life, I have been a prophet unwelcome in my own home town. I was ahead of the realization of the rot in the Church just be living in this diocese.

  17. kiwiinamerica says:

    Whatever happened to “diversity”? I thought the Church was all about “diversity”, these days. No room for a little liturgical “diversity”, bishop?

  18. e.davison49 says:

    Supertradmum: I’m sorry to read about your sad experiences in your own home.

    I googled the Pacem in Terris Award you wrote about and found video of the actual ceremony youtube. It’s very strange. They have a “litany” of past award winners. After saying a name they ring a bell and then “meditate” or something. Some of the names they mention I guess I can understand, like Sargent Shriver. But SAUL ALINSKY? REALLY?

    (Sorry, Fr. Z, I don’t know how to embed.)

  19. Sixupman says:

    Prompted by an accidental happening upon a parish web-site, this a.m. I visited the church and heard Mass there. It had relatively recently undergone [I assume] a second re-ordering – which would please Cardinal Sarah – with the high altar [a salvaged side-altar presumably] fixed to the wall. The altar rails have also returned and all knelt for Communion – under one kind only. Two altar boys immaculately garbed to complete the scenario. From the web-site it is a very active multi-cultural parish. St. Joseph’s Longsight Manchester UK.

  20. jhayes says:

    Supertradmum wrote the pastor himself axed a precious oak reredos made by German craftsman

    That isn’t required by the GIRM. [I can’t believe that you are so ideologically bent that you would write such an insensitive thing.] It says:

    303. In building new churches, it is preferable for a single altar to be erected, one that in the gathering of the faithful will signify the one Christ and the one Eucharist of the Church.

    In already existing churches, however, when the old altar is so positioned that it makes the people’s participation difficult but [it] cannot be moved without damage to artistic value, another fixed altar, skillfully made and properly dedicated, should be erected and the sacred rites celebrated on it alone. In order that the attention of the faithful not be distracted from the new altar, the old altar should not be decorated in any special way.

    Beauvais and Chartres come to mind as places where that has been done. The new altar is in the crossing, a long distance in front of the original altar, which has been left untouched at the far end of the choir [Which is appalling.]

    [The Congregation contradicted that in Notitiae when it said that the unicity of the altar is important enough that when there is an altar of artistic importance, having a table altar in front of it is not preferred.]

  21. Dom Gregory says:

    After great catechesis and preparation, I started celebrating daily Mass ad orientem. Later I did the same for the weekend Masses. I was told (by the bishop you mentioned) that “it is against the Law” to celebrate the OF ad orientem. [FALSE] It is also “against the Law” to wear a maniple at an OF Mass. [FALSE] Don’t you just love subsidiarity? [For libs, its right up there with diversity.]

    [Persevere, Father!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  22. Broggi66 says:

    The Diocese of Davenport is my home diocese and I am well aware of the priests that Supertradmum is talking about. Although I was disappointed in Bishop Amos shutting the door on Ad Orientem NO, having survived being raised in this Diocese in the 70’s and 80’s, the Bishop seems like a staunch traditionalist in comparison to those days. You have to pick and choose your battles in this Diocese and there are traditional bright spots, you just have to seek them out. We do have a TLM mass. My sons attend the Catholic high school in the city and are taught religion by the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher. These are not LCWR nuns. They wear full habits and are great women. Interestingly enough, they are so traditional that not a lot of the 70’s and 80’s priests know they exist. So it is not all a disaster. That being said, we are directly across from the Diocese of Peoria, which is considered very conservative and traditional. So I looked to see what Bishop Jenky had to say about Ad Orientem. He hasn’t written a letter to his priests but their Catholic paper printed an article from CNS about how the mass wouldn’t change. So I guess they are not on board either.

  23. RobJ says:

    Perhaps some minds could be persuaded by communicating in the style of a recent, successful political campaign:

    Versus populum. Priest standing at the elevated altar, opposite the people. Looks like he descended from Heaven. Weird!

    Ad orientem. Priest facing the same direction as the people. Looks like he’s leading them to God. Good symbolism!

  24. moon1234 says:

    We have been so lucky in Madison with bishop Morlino. I have almost forgotten how bad it is for so many in surrounding parishes.

  25. Midwest St. Michael says:

    jhayes says (in answer to Supertradmum):

    “Supertradmum wrote ‘the pastor himself axed a precious oak reredos made by German craftsman’
    That isn’t required by the GIRM.”

    I offer the following from the document on the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II (“Sacrosanctum Concilium”) :

    Wherefore it has pleased the Fathers to issue the following decrees on these matters.

    123. The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own; she has admitted styles from every period *according to the natural talents and circumstances of peoples*, and the needs of the various rites. Thus, in the course of the centuries, *she has brought into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved*. The art of our own days, coming from every race and region, shall also be given free scope in the Church, provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honor; thereby it is enabled to contribute its own voice to that wonderful chorus of praise in honor of the Catholic faith sung by great men in times gone by.

    124. Ordinaries, by the encouragement and favor they show to *art which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display*. This principle is to apply also in the matter of sacred vestments and ornaments.

    Let bishops *carefully remove* from the house of God and from other sacred places those *works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety*, and which *offend true religious sense* either by depraved forms or by *lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense*.

    Stars added.

    God bless you, SuperT!


  26. Sal says:

    Fr. Z, Let me ask you a question: What percentage of Roman Catholics in North America have ever attended an ad orientem mass, or have any memory of such? I was 10 in 1965 when churches started the remodeling process and moving altars around. That means that anybody who remembers the pre-Vatican II ad orientem altars would have to be in their 60’s. I realize there are a few places around North America that buck the trend, but surely less than 5% of parishes hold ANY ad orientem services. I would venture to guess that probably 5% or less of priests have ever served a mass ad orientem. The majority of that 5% would have to be VERY OLD.

    I don’t have a problem with those congregations that want an ad orientem service. However, I don’t support ramming that down everybody’s throat as the norm. Frankly, I just don’t see the majority of priests, bishops and laity supporting such a move. I generally agree with your theological positions, but I think this is much ado about something that will never happen, except in a rare parish. I don’t think that masses at St. Peters are even said ad orientem.

    I would view ad orientem masses as a relic of the past, much as Rood Screens (I suspect you are one of the few readers who know what that is).

  27. iPadre says:

    A few years ago in speaking to our presbyterate, Archbishop Chaput said: The new corer stove is liberal and the new liberal is conservative.” True, true!

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Sal, as the vast majority of people in the Masses I attend in the States are from my generation (I was born in 1949) or older (my parents’ ages, and they go to Sunday Mass regularly, 1923, 1928

    Of course, we remember the Ad Orientem. As the church ages, these older folks, will go into eternity and leave the Gen Xers and Millenials who do not know the facing East form. However, as so few of them are in church, why not go back to what the majority remember?

  29. Supertradmum says:

    BTW, I see many more young people in Mass on Sunday in Luxembourg than I have in Great Britain or most parts of the States. Interesting. Many youth at Mass this a.m. and young couples with babies.

    And, if these youth are like most practicing Catholic youth, they are more conservative than their parents.

  30. un-ionized says:

    Sal, Once you experience it, I guess they figure, you won’t want to go back. I do think some are conflating other things with the directional issue. But then, I am clearly a candidate for the biological solution. (joke)

  31. Benedict Joseph says:

    Sal, surely you have some memory of how all of the post-conciliar reforms (hijackings?) were ever so gently applied (rammed down our throats) could it be a new generation would profit from a similar application of reform? No. It appears those sympathetic to tradition aren’t given to violent imposition of their will upon others. That has been my experience for sixty-four years. Against reason, such gentleness has not served the Church well at all.
    My parish, Novus Ordo, adopted ad orientem mass three years ago. There was no comeuppance. Only those with a axe to grind, in the throws of protracted adolescence, and we know they are Legion, get a cramp over this.

  32. ncstevem says:

    I’ll repeat what’s been mentioned many times before about the subject of Mass celebrated ad oriented. It’s extremely important in reorienting those in the pews what is the purpose of the Mass.

    Sal obviously doesn’t understand that concept.

  33. Henry Edwards says:

    Sal: “I would venture to guess that probably 5% or less of priests have ever served a mass ad orientem. The majority of that 5% would have to be VERY OLD. ”

    I’m seeing the reverse of this. The younger priests I know favor ad orientem celebration, but few of the older ones do. All of the ad orientem OF Masses I’ve personally attended have been celebrated by young priests ordained since 2000. Just yesterday, our diocese saw a high profile solemn sung OF Mass celebrated ad orientem with glorious music–the Ordinary (Gloria, etc.) in Latin Gregorian chant, Latin motets, chanted English propers (rather than substituted congregational hymns), the whole Mass chanted including the Roman Canon. And all the 7 TLM celebrants in our small diocese are in this same post-2000 category. A well-known priest predicted in the year 2000 that the current liturgical chaos would be all sorted out by the year 2030. Sounded quite optimistic them, but perhaps on track now with the rising generation of orthodox of young priests who will pastors and even bishops by 2030.

  34. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Sal said, “I don’t think that masses at St. Peters are even said ad orientem.” Since the apse of St. Peter’s is in the west, unless I am much mistaken, any Mass celebrated at the Papal (i.e., Main) Altar is celebrated ad orientem. So, anyone who has been present at a Mass celebrated at the Papal Altar has attended an ad orientem Mass, and anyone who has ever seen one televised probably has a memory of one. Whether they realize those facts or not, is another question, though if they ever looked at a map of Rome they could figure it out easily enough.

    The English “Chair of St. Peter” Wikipedia article includes a 2014 photo with an altar clearly arranged to celebrate ad orientem. The first detailed ground plan I found online marks 21 other altars (if I counted them correctly), but gives no details about their orientation or whether there is room to circumambulate them to cense them.

  35. musicus says:

    There are 2 reasons that GIRM #299 says that the altar “should” be constructed away from the wall: 1. To bring out the meaning of the altar as the “rock which is Christ” (I Cor 10:4), [Hmmmm.] and 2. so that Mass “may” be celebrated facing the people. In this the reformers were clearly expressing a preference. In many cases, however, the stipulation in #303 is broken, in that altars are further replicated (from 1 to 2 and from 3 to 4), as an altar table is added. As in our church, the old altar continues to be decorated. This tells me that the people continue to desire that it not be relinquished. Therefore, I have begun using it again after some 50 years (!).

  36. jaykay says:

    Sal says: “That means that anybody who remembers the pre-Vatican II ad orientem altars would have to be in their 60’s.”

    Not necessarily, Sal, with respect. In fact, not at all. It wasn’t the case that everything just changed totally in 1965. Certainly in my town the old High Altars remained in use for quite some time – up to late 1967 in my school chapel, which was also open to the public and well attended. To any average Mass-goer, then, the differences were quite minimal, mainly making responses in English – and not everybody even bothered with that. As I say, this continued well into 1966/67, when I remember the first “wooden altars”, as everybody called them, being introduced. Some older priests just didn’t bother with the English at all, and the altar boys continued to make responses in Latin as previously – admittedly at Low Masses on weekdays. I’m 56 and I remember all this very clearly. While I didn’t serve Mass (I was in the choir) boys my age and only slightly older did. None of us is yet 60.

  37. jhayes says:

    Musicus writes There are 2 reasons that GIRM #299 says that the altar “should” be constructed away from the wall: 1. To bring out the meaning of the altar as the “rock which is Christ” (I Cor 10:4),

    From serving the Mass in pre-Vatican II days, I still remember the priest saying, as he washed his hands “Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.”

    In biblical times, altars were free-standing and the priest could walk around the altar as in that quote from Psalm 25 and as #299 describes. [Jewish altars were free-standing. So what?]

  38. pattif says:

    I think you’ll find +Conley did this a couple of Advents ago.

    [Bp. Conley has been supportive of Mass ad orientem. May his tribe increase.]

  39. WYMiriam says:

    TNCath: 1. Most bishops truly believe that Vatican II mandated the “versus populum” orientation.

    If so, then perhaps “most bishops” ought to re-read Sacrosanctum concilium!

    Hmm. Come to think of it, perhaps they also ought to read it to their priests, who in turn ought to read it to their congregations.

  40. cl00bie says:

    Bishops can politely request that their clerics do it one way or another. Right?

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    musicus suggests that “In this [suggesting “that Mass ‘may’ be celebrated facing the people”] the reformers were clearly expressing a preference.”

    My impression (under correction!) was that this might just be speaking in the tradition of rubrics in the Missal down the ages of clearly allowing for the circumstance that some Roman (and other) Churches were built with the apse in the west, and that it was an implied conditional with reference to any such Churches (where ‘ad orientem’ is ‘versus populum’).

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