I recently attended my first ad orientem mass. It was an English Novus Ordo mass. One of the reasons given for the ad orientem orientation is that it better draws the distinction between the dialogues where the\ priest addresses the people and the prayers directed by the priest on behalf of all to God. Yet, during the preface dialogue, the priest was ad orientem. From the internet research I was able to do, this seems to the correct orientation for the priest at that moment. Is there some reason why the orientation during this part of the mass is ad orientem rather than versus populum?
Firstly, I glad to hear of an ad orientem Novus Ordo Mass. That’s a step in the right direction. An important step.
I think the answer lies in the fact that the whole of the Preface, including the dialogue is considered an integral part of the Roman Canon (read: anaphora, actio, Eucharistic Prayer). Once that mighty prayer begins, the priest remains properly oriented at the altar. In ancient manuscripts for saying Mass, there was a notation just before the beginning of the short “dialogue” “Incipit canon actionis… the Canon of the sacrificial action begins”. So the Preface that followed was perceived as part of the anaphora.
Let me put this in terms that libs will get in a possible new English translation that will be imposed once that last remnants of the JP2/B16 crew are finally extirpated.
The priest summons the community with a strong imperative statement: HEARTS UPWARD! Sursum corda! The people respond: OKAY, WE DID THAT (“We have them now presented to God… habemus ad Dominum.” The priest commands: “LET US GIVE THANKS TO… YOU KNOW… THE THING!” and the people reply, “GREAT IDEA, WE’LL DO THAT TOO! (“It is right and just… dignum et iustum est.)” And the priest picks up that phrase and runs with it into the Preface: “YEAH, IT’S A GREAT IDEA… vere dignum et iustum est“. At the end of the Preface comes, seamlessly, the Sanctus… sorry… 🎶 santo 🎷 santo 🥁 santo 🎶. When the maracas and tambourines die down, in the Roman Canon the priest continues with “THEREFORE… igitur…”. The Canon is a seamless continuation of what has preceded.
It is “right and just”, therefore, for the priest to maintain his sacerdotal position at the altar for the entirety, not turning about this time to say, “Dominus vobiscum” at the introduction to the Canon.
Just a thought.
Let’s get our Masses turned toward the Lord again!