Ad orientem posture in the Novus Ordo Mass

Is it acceptable, in a Novus Ordo Mass, for the priest to have his back to the congregation? I know this is required for the TLM, but I’ve never seen it done before in a NO Mass until we came to our present parish where we now belong. DH and I were wondering, is it acceptable to combine the posture of the TLM with everything else NO? The only time the priest faces us is for the “kiss of peace” (which is never extended for everyone to share - and I’m ok with that). And during Benediction, he also turns with Jesus in the monstrance toward the people. But the rest of Mass is with him facing the altar as in a TLM.

Hope I’ve explained this clearly. :blush:

~Liza

Yes it is acceptable. I’m just guessing the readings/homily are also done facing the people, right? It’s also, according to the Pope, permissible for priest to face the people in the EF.

You can look here for more ifo on ad orientem: ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/fessio_massv2_1_jan05.asp

If I’m not mistaken, the official ruberics in the Missal still specify the celebration of Mass ad orientem. Celebrating versus populum was merely an indult issued in the 1970’s, or it might have been an abuse that was later tolerated (like Communion in the hand). But to answer your question, not only can a priest celebrate ad orientem, it might still be the specification of the ruberics.

Outstanding! Thank you to both of you! :smiley:

And yes, the readings and homily are done facing the people from the ambo. The lector reads from a lower one on one side, the priest from the higher more elaborate one on the other side of the sanctuary.

~Liza

Rather than saying the priest has his back to the people, we should say we are all facing God together.

Yes it is proper and was actually anticipated when the Pauline Mass was promulgated.

liza,

if you read the rubrics in the missal, you will actually find references that indicate to the priest to turn and face the congregation at certain points in the Mass. This indicates an assumption that the priest is facing the same direction as the people.

A priest doesn’t need permission to face East (ad orientem), use Latin, exclude altar girls or EMHC’s, only distribute the Host at Mass, or only hear confessions with the screen.

I have a copy of the 1970 missal booklet, and the picture illustrations are ad orientem. I think in the early years of the NOM it was like the TLM, but it was abusively changed during the 70’s to present and continuing. I prefer the full traditional rites (e.g. TLM, Exorcism, Extreme Unction, etc.) of the church whether in latin or english, but not the fabricated rites.

Pax

Instaurare omnia in Christo

Should we really be using the term ‘ad orientem’ today? Perhaps my area is the odd one out, but we don’t have a single Church that I can think of which faces east. ‘Versus populum’ makes sense, but surely there should be another term for the opposite, rather than the grossly inaccurate ‘ad orientem.’ Of course, I personally think there is no excuse for building churches with the sanctuaries pointing the wrong way, but until we wake up and fix it it just seems a bad choice of words.

Also, what I find interesting is how the rubrics should apply in these modern round churches? How can the priest “face the people” when it is an absolute fact that almost half the congregation are behind him at all times? I would have thought that this whole modern idea that the Mass must always be celebrated by a priest facing the people would have actually precluded these ugly round churches, but oddly it seems the same groups are pushing both.

Patrick

As I understand it everyone facing ad Orientem is saying everyone is facing the “Liturgical East” not Proper East but The East of the New Jerusalem…

I would say ad Orientem is correct

I was a Catholic Chaplain’s Assistant in Europe when the change came about. Our chaplain was on good terms with the local bishop as well as in regular contact with what was then called the Military Ordinariate.
We asked about moving the altar. He said such a move would not be necessary since the NO could be celebrated facing either way. We continued using the TLM, but with a little more English.
We shared the chapel with a Protestant chaplain (Wisconsin Lutheran) who saw no reason to move it either.

Do you or anyone have a link to such a rubric? I had understood that the rubrics of the Mass are silent on the issue, apart from a couple of directions to the celebrant to “turn towards the people and say…”, implying that he **may **not be alkready facing them. This would indicate that to celebrate Mass facing the people is an acceptable option, not an abuse.

But the point is that for ALL Masses the celebrant faces the ALTAR. Where the people may be in relation to the priest is not really important, except that, as indicated, at the parts of the Mass when the priest and people are talking to each other rather than to God, they should be facing each other.

Celebrating versus populum is not an abuse. It is a legitimate option.

As far as using the term ad orientem, what some people use now is the term ad apsem, or “towards the apse”, which refers to the domed end of the church (usually where the altar is located).

That makes a bit more sense considering the current state of affairs. Though I do still think properly orienting our churches would make good sense.

Patrick

You are correct, however, try telling a finance committee that you want to re-orient the church…:wink:

Ours couldn’t be reoriented!!! The altar weighs more than a ton. The church was constructed around it!

Also, what I find interesting is how the rubrics should apply in these modern round churches? How can the priest “face the people” when it is an absolute fact that almost half the congregation are behind him at all times? I would have thought that this whole modern idea that the Mass must always be celebrated by a priest facing the people would have actually precluded these ugly round churches, but oddly it seems the same groups are pushing both.

Actually, some churches built in the Byzantine Era were round-- for instance, Santa Constanza in Rome (4th century) and San Stefano Rotondo in Rome (5th century). From Stephen Shloeder’s book Architecture in Communion the reason why these churches were built wrong were not for liturgical reasons, but because they were shrines, baptistries, etc.

San Costanza in Rome

San Stefano Rotondo, the largest circular church.

I hope this helps.

Yes, but did people during the period these were built insist that the priest had to “face the people” as they have been doing for the past thirty-odd years? I read quite often online from this or that group that the altars had to be moved because it was basically wrong to celebrate the Mass with the priest facing in the same direction as everybody else. I see no problem with ancient peoples building round churches (or building them now I suppose though I think they are ugly as sin) but how can you justify doing so if you are also demanding that the priest should not have his back to the people? It is just impossible to have it both ways, or so it seems to me.

Patrick

Well as I said earlier the churches wern’t built round for liturgical reasons, but because they were shrines or locations of martyrdom or whatnot. Either way, the priest faced east, and in fact I beleive Steven Schloeder states that a sort of nave was made by not having the congregation surround the altar.

We also must remember that at St. Peter’s Basilica the Pope traditionally faces eastward, and in doing so ends up facing the congregation.

So, perhaps it might be like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. I have seen pictures of the inside of that structure and it looks completely round to me. But, I know that the Orthodox do not have their liturgy around an altar, and use icon screens and such. So the actual interior in that regard must have looked very different than now, and perhaps these churches above did too. Of course, as you have said, these were not really parish churches in the first place.

Patrick

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