Thursday 4 October 2012

Mass Ad Orientem

 Pope Benedict offers Mass ad orientem.
He wrote,"a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance."

I've noticed a couple of posts about Mass in the Ordinary Form today celebrated ad orientem, completely in line with Vatican II.  On Catholic Collar and Tie and on Forest Murmurs, quoting the excellent Eamon Duffy's research.

I celebrate ad orientem all the time and have done for some years now since way back in my last parish, where I was for nine years.  It is completely normal (and normative) and no longer causes any comment at all.  My experience has been that after explaining it, those who for whatever reasons think it is out of step with the Church's teaching, against Vatican II etc etc are simply not prepared to listen to the facts and continue to tell you the same thing... It's not allowed, it's against Vatican II.  

For lay people, this may be understandable, as they have perhaps been told so by priests in the past and still in the present.  However, I cannot think that any priest can now be under the illusion that the ad orientem position at the altar is "against Vatican II" or "not allowed".  People should be honest and say they just don't like it.  Of course, this does not mean that they should condemn it, nor refuse to celebrate ad orientem if they visit another parish, nor continue to mis-inform the laity.  

I recognise that both are at the moment options in the Church and if I visit a church where versus populum is the norm, I celebrate that way - even though I find it very uncomfortable and not helpful to praying the Mass.  But in such circumstances, I have never preached against it, nor refused to say Mass versus populum.  In other words, I work within the Church's provision.  To my mind, that makes me a Catholic.  To protest against that provision would make me a Protestant.


Jacobi said...

The role of the priest is to say the Mass and to lead the congregation to God. He cannot do this by facing them. He then becomes a distraction and an obstruction to the flow of prayer.

As is now well understood, the turning of the congregation in on itself was but an attempt by reformers to dilute or deny the concept of a Redeeming Sacrifice and turn the Mass into a commemorative meal.

Personally I have taken to following the Novus Ordo with my eyes closed most of the time to avoid this barrier to prayer. The trouble is I sometimes nod off!

Jonathan Marshall said...

It always annoys me when people accuse a priest saying Mass ad orientem of "turning his back to the people".
I respond by asking them if they consider that my great uncle, an infantry subaltern in WWI, was killed "with his back to his men". That usually shuts them up.