In a recent thread (on a different topic) it was mentioned that Catholic Churches are traditionally oriented so that the people face to the east during Mass. This is the first time I have heard of this tradition. The parish where I attend Mass is oriented in such a way that the people face west. Our local cathedral has the people facing north. These are just a few of the many churches in my area that face in directions other than east. I guess my question is, how “important” is this (seemingly often ignored) tradition?
Wherever the altar is is the liturgical “East.”
Though traditionally, churches have traditionally been arranged where the altar is in the geographical east.
A very very long time ago they both were suppose to face east, also towards the tabernacle which was east. But things do change and we just except it. Our altar we face west our priest faces east towards us, but the tabernacle is west behind him but it faces east itself. .:shrug: Our Church building is fairly new 8 years, but the altar is free floating out in the open so our priest would still be able to turn and face the tabernacle but then he would still be west. ?
So a better question or the way to put the question.
Our priest is facing east.
We are facing toward the tabernacle.
The tabernacle is facing east.
So who is suppose to face east?
I wasn’t there when the built the Church, but it has been a big discussion even now.
Christians have been facing East since just about day one. The Jewish tradition was to face Jerusalem, but Christians worship facing the East for a number of reasons (one being that the oriens (East) represents the coming of the Lord, so we worship looking to the Lord’s return).
Churches would generally be built such that the congregation and the priest faced East during the liturgy (or at least during the Eucharistic portion of the liturgy).
There was never any directive from Vatican II to change or stop this tradition…