Ad Orientem in Ordinary Form of Mass


Should more Catholic parishes celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass, Ad Orientem? (Facing towards the alter). I have been to a Ukrainian Catholic Church service where this did happen during most of the Mass.

Let me know your thoughts on this!


I think both Ad Orientem (AO) and Versus Populum/ Towards the People (VP) have rich histories in Catholicism, and each have their own benefits.

I’d like to see a more even split, maybe 50/50, as opposed to the current 5/95 split in the Roman West.




Either way is an acceptable option. I think the fact that most Masses are not offered this way reflects the desires of both the priests and the people.


Parishes with clip-on microphones would not have the problem that the prayers are more difficult to hear, but would have the advantage of the priest facing in the same direction as they do. (Well, except churches who place pews in the round or 1/2 round, so that some of the people are facing each other…)


I don’t care, I leave it up to the priest.

Only comment I have is that if the priest is facing away, then he needs to either hold the host and chalice up high at the Consecration or there needs to be bells to let us know when to worship Jesus in the Eucharist.
Some parishes I attend don’t have bells, and also at some parishes, the priest is physically unable due to age or infirmity to hold the host or chalice up above his head.
If he’s facing us, it’s not a problem. If he’s facing away, there would be a problem, unless bells let us know what’s happening.


Whichever way the priest faces during the Eucharist he is facing the altar .

I prefer the usual practice of also facing the people gathered in church .


I personally believe there should be a return to Ad Orientem, because I personally believe it more clearly symbolizes the theology of the Mass than Versus Populum does.


I had a parishioner comment to me that he would NOT like the Priest to turn “his back on the people”. He wanted to see what was being done but Father Mike Schmitz said in one of his talks to think about it a different way. Think of the Priest, taking his prayers WITH the laity’s prayers and offerings to the Father. His back isn’t to us his face is to the Lord.


I’m sorry, but tat argument doesn’t convince me. An omnipresent God is not limited to being behind the altar. He is just as much present in front of it, surely?


More like 1/99 currently ;).

At our cathedral the priest faces the people but grand candles and a crucifix are arranged in the so called “Benedictine arrangement”. For important feaats such as Christmas or Easter they break out super fancy gigantic candlesticks. The result is almost a little rood screen or iconostasis. I love it.


No one is saying that the Omnipresent God is limited to behind the Altar.


He is actually present on the altar at the consecration, so whatever direction the priest faces, he is facing God from the moment of consecration onwards.

That said, either direction is licit. I’ve been to Masses in either orientation. In some places versus populum simply doesn’t work, such as an altar built against a wall. In other places like at our abbey where Mass is concelebrated by 15-20 priests (depending on the number of visiting priests), ad orientem would not work.

So instead of creating another source of division arguing which is better or not, why not try something novel: accept that the best (and sometimes only) orientation is very much dependent on the layout of the church/altar, and on other factors (such as the community dimension for monastics), and leave it up to the celebrant to chose according to circumstances?

Because while rarer before the council, versus populum certainly did exist then, and not only because “east” was also where the nave was. So it’s not as if versus populum is a novel post-Conciliar concept.


The theology of the Mass is not that narrowly set out.


Nowadays, the modern man’s tendency toward rationalism is a challenge which must be overcome by the practice of the Catholic faith. Part of this tendency is to minimize the importance of the external actions of the Church’s sacred rites. Every element of the Mass has an important theological meaning, based in centuries of development of Catholic traditions, and this cannot be ignored to relegated to mere “externals”. The simple faithful very much need these “externals”, and for many, the faith needs to be tangible. In fact, this is how children learn the faith. The practices within the liturgy, guarded by the Church for centuries, have the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and are beneficial for the salvation of souls, the mission and supreme law of the Church.


OP, I see you’re relatively new here. Did you do a search on this topic first? I feel like it’s one of those we’ve beaten to death around here.

Bottom line - either way is acceptable. I’ve been to both, I admire both, and I can give reasons for both, but it’s ultimately going to boil down to preference.



I have not. Thanks for the suggestion. And since I am new I am unsure what “OP” means. What is that shortened to?


OP means “Original Poster”. It is used to refer to the person who started the thread in which we are responding.


It means original post/original poster.

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