The Daily Telegraph reports that Pope Benedict recently celebrated Mass facing East in the Sistine Chapel. Shawn Tribe has a picture and more scholarly comment. Fr Ray has more photos and comment.
It makes a lot of sense to me. There are certain parts of the Mass that are clearly the priest’s prayer and offering to God on behalf of the people, and certain parts of the Mass where the priest is addressing the people. In those parts where the priest prays to God with the People of God it makes sense for the priest to be facing the same way as everyone else in the church.
The rubrics in the Novus Ordo sacramentary assume that the priest is still facing East because they tell the priest at certain points to ‘turn and face the people.’ One of the disadvantages of facing the people all the time is that, no matter how much we try to avoid it, the priest becomes the center of focus. I personally sometimes feel awkward whilst facing the people. Why should they be watching me, and even if they’re not, I feel like they are. I’d rather pray with them than to them.
Will more of our masses be celebrated ad orientam before long? Time will tell. Before it becomes the regular practice we will need to do a fair bit of education and explaining.
Father, in November I went on a pilgrimage with my Priest and 37 Parish members. In Rome, Father Erik, my Priest, gave daily Masses at the Vatican, St. John Lateran, and Assisi–when he gave the Masses–except Assisi–Father turned and faced East, away from us–it made you feel that he was no longer the center of attention, but praying with us–I liked it!
Wonderful post –“Will more of our masses be celebrated ad orientam before long?”I hope so.
I think in some churches it would just look silly, the ones where the wall behind the altar is bare for example or there is just a crucifix quite high up. Also there may be a problem of not being able to hear the priest speaking if he doesn’t have a microphone. In a church like the one pictured it looks appropriate though.Angela
Angela, I agree that it would look silly to pray facing a bare wall…but the answer is not to pray toward people, then, but to put tabernacles and high altars back where they belong, IMHO.Also, when was the last time you were in Mass where the priest wasn’t mic’d? Or maybe we just should “know” the prayers that the priest is saying on our behalf, and not need to “hear” them audibly every time? Or maybe we can be saying them in our hearts, silently, along with the priest? Just some thoughts…
When will it happen at St. Marys????
That’s a great question, I’m not sure it ever will.
Yes,it is coming at St. Mary’s. But just down the street at Prince of Peace, it has been happening for years. We even use the Missal that came from the early Church rather than the newly made up and refangled one from the 1960s hippies/heretics/modernists.Come on down to Prince of Peace.
I’ve been to POP several times in the last few month and not seen the Mass celebrated ad orientam. The Masses I have participated in mirrors the ones at St. Marys. Is there a particular time I must go to see the Mass that uses the Missal from the early Church? That last time I went to Mass at POP was two weeks ago. It was a reverant Mass but not any different that any Mass I’ve been to at St. Marys.
As the website for POP is no longer updated I would recommend calling Fr. Brovey if you plan on visiting to see which Missal will be used for the 11AM Mass. Also, the Novus Ordo at POP differs from St. Mary’s in a number of different ways including:1) PoP sings the Propers of the Mass (Introit, Communion, etc) whereas St. Mary’s does not.2) PoP sometimes offers the Mass facing ad orientem whereas St. Mary’s does not.3) PoP lives a particularly authentic Roman style of liturgy whereas St. Mary’s follows an Anglican style of liturgy.4) PoP offers the Holy Mass in accordance to the Holy Father’s wishes by offering it in both the ancient and modern forms whereas St. Mary’s has yet to answer the call of the Holy Father and chooses to only celebrate the modern missal with the exception of the Maronite Divine Liturgy which technically has no connection with St. Mary’s.
Thanks for the info Cath. I went to a 7:00 am Wednesday mass about a month ago and did not notice any differences. Same with the 7:30 Mass on Sunday. Apparently I’m not as astute as I should be. I do believe though that Monsignor Brovey is definitely leading the reform of the reform in the Upstate of South Caroline. I truly wish that St. Mary’s would follow suit.
I have been to both St. Mary’s and Prince of Peace and think that they both offer very traditional Roman Catholic Masses in comparison to other churches I have attended. I have never seen Monsignor Brovey “practice” ad orientam outside of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Does he commonly do this at Novus Ordo Masses or just when the 1962 Missal is in use????????? I would love for ad orientam to be common practice at both Churches for the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I don’t think there is an option in the 1962 Missal to face the people. So Father, please let us know when the 1st ad orientam Mass will be at St. Mary’s and my family and I will be there.
It’s not a matter of facing something; rather, it’s a matter of facing some place — namely, east (whether actual or liturgical east). So even if there is nothing but a bare wall (as someone mentioned), that makes little difference to the symbolism of priest and people facing east, in expectation of the coming of the Lord.