Celebrating Mass


In the (Engliish language, Eucharistic Prayer#2) mass I participated in yesterday, the priest celebrated at the altar with his back to the congregation. I haven’t seen that for a long time.

It’s a 20th Century building… From the 1980’s, I’d guess. Not a chapel, but the main “auditorium,” about 500 communicants present. The altar was not against a wall. It was about a third of the way back from the front edge of the podium, the same position as most of the rest of the churches in this diocese.

Is there a canon law governing which way a priest faces, or is it a choice of the celebrant’s?


It’s actually the celebrant’s choice. The Church does not require one or the other.

Unfortunately, it was a common misconception (well-fertilized) that the priest was obligated to face toward the congregation instead of facing with them.

This misunderstanding is very very slowly dissipating.


Cool. Thanks for your quick reply.

I hadn’t seen such a celebration since the Latin Mass was the norm.


It’s making a comeback. Many of our younger priests are learning to appreciate the genuine value in the fact that everyone is facing the same direction.

In the Holy Land, many of the churches and shrines have altars that make it impossible for the priest to celebrate Mass any other way.


I’d rather have Ad Orientem with Latin but to be fair, the ad orientem posture was not always the case when the Latin Mass was the norm.


Ditto ProVobis…totally agree…facing the Altar was beautiful/the Sacrificial nature of the Mass…the communal nature is always there…but I prefer facing the altar/east


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