The direction the priest faces during Mass


#1

Which way should the priest face during Mass? I believe that we should go back to the priest facing away from the people and towards God, the Mass is supposed to be a Holy Sacrifice and not an informal gathering. The purpose is not to exclude the people but rather to acknowledge the precence of God, especially of Christ in the tabernacle. If you read Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s (now Benedict XVI of course) he says that the priest facing the people creats the mindset that the parish is self sufficent and needs no one. He also of course other implications. Interesting things to think about.


#2

I believe that the Priests orientation in the celebration of the Mass is his own decision. I don’t think the rubrics require him to face the people and in fact some Priests celebrate the Novus Ordo facing the altar except for the Homily and while giving communion. If anyone knows of a specific guideline could you please direct me in that direction.


#3

In the Byzantine (Eastern) Catholic Churches It’s ALWAYS towards the altar and facing EAST. If you have ever been to a Divine Liturgy and this is NOT the case, then the Liturgy is done wrong.


#4

I’ve only recently started to experience the priest with his back to us. But the way I see it, is that he is there in persona Christi, and in a sense, we are following him in our worship of God during the hour.

I like this and it feels strange now, after just 7 weeks of daily mass, when I end up in another parish where the priest faces me. When he faces me, I feel like he’s talking to me when he is really addressing God during the Eucharistic Prayer.

When the priest says, “Sursam corda” (Lift up your hearts), he looks forward and up, raising his arms and this is one of those moments that makes me feel he leads us in our worship of God. When I experience this same part of the Mass with the priest facing me, it just feels different now as he looks around at the congregation.

I hate to use this analogy, but its kind of like a football coach moving the players to focus on the game. The coach, like the players has his focus on the field of play, forward.


#5

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]I’ve only recently started to experience the priest with his back to us. But the way I see it, is that he is there in persona Christi, and in a sense, we are following him in our worship of God during the hour.

I like this and it feels strange now, after just 7 weeks of daily mass, when I end up in another parish where the priest faces me. When he faces me, I feel like he’s talking to me when he is really addressing God during the Eucharistic Prayer.

When the priest says, “Sursam corda” (Lift up your hearts), he looks forward and up, raising his arms and this is one of those moments that makes me feel he leads us in our worship of God. When I experience this same part of the Mass with the priest facing me, it just feels different now as he looks around at the congregation.

I hate to use this analogy, but its kind of like a football coach moving the players to focus on the game. The coach, like the players has his focus on the field of play, forward.
[/quote]

Suggestion, go to one of our Sunday Liturgies, you will experience the ‘leading of the people’.
In the Byzantine Church, as long as you are older than 6 AND a male you can be an altar server. At 44, I am a server, and I get to see a LOT MORE that goes on with the priest as ‘Persona Christi’. It is very eye opening and beautiful.


#6

the priest’s orientation shouldn’t be given in terms of weather he’s facing the people or not but weather he faces the same direction as the people which traditionally is towards the east. the liturgy is oriented intrinsically to give praise of sacrifice to our God through the offering of his Son under the appearance of bread and wine though this by no means exhausts the meaning of the liturgy.

this means that the orientation of the priest isn’t what it is all about and is why the priest facing the altar is called “ad orientem” meaning towards the east, the common orientation of the faithful during the liturgy.

the idea that the priest should face the congregation to aid in participation is a post vii liturgical development not required by VII’s sancrosantum concilium. i think it’s universal application is an error based on the over emphasis placed on the action of the priest where he is the focal point and not God. i believe B16 said something like this.


#7

How about instead of worrying about which way the priest faces why don’t we worry about if we are going to have any priests to face in any direction?

Personally, I think it’s ludicris that people worry about how people hold their hands when they pray, how people shake people’s hand during the sign of peace, saying Mass in Latin, and which way the priest faces when we obviously have bigger problems to worry about.


#8

We are not the focus of mass, the Lord is. Catholics must get rid of this modernist, pseudo-protestant misconception, that we are the center of the universe.


#9

[quote=Petertherock]How about instead of worrying about which way the priest faces why don’t we worry about if we are going to have any priests to face in any direction?

Personally, I think it’s ludicris that people worry about how people hold their hands when they pray, how people shake people’s hand during the sign of peace, saying Mass in Latin, and which way the priest faces when we obviously have bigger problems to worry about.
[/quote]

Maybe, just maybe, if we correct the little things, the bigger problems will be solved also.


#10

[quote=Edwin1961]Suggestion, go to one of our Sunday Liturgies, you will experience the ‘leading of the people’.
In the Byzantine Church, as long as you are older than 6 AND a male you can be an altar server. At 44, I am a server, and I get to see a LOT MORE that goes on with the priest as ‘Persona Christi’. It is very eye opening and beautiful.
[/quote]

I’ll bet it is sweet.

I’m a female and had pondered “getting involved” in the liturgy in previous parishes that I attended because females were so involved. But, I never did it.

Then, I landed in this traditional parish and there are only males involved. I could let it bother me, but I don’t I came to a realization that I participate fully in the mass right from my pew. I find it very refreshing to see anywhere from 2-4 altar boys/men involved in weekday liturgies, and from 4 to 12 or more in the Latin Mass on sunday. It is an awesome sight. Their motions and cadences are precision in nature and at first it was eye-catching. But, after a few masses, the “sameness” of their motions disappears into the depth of the Mass and I can focus fully on worshiping God.

As for the females…there are no shortage of young girls, in the pews before the Mass starts, and after it ends, sitting or kneeling peacefully and prayerfully. It is inviting to prayer to see so many young people engaged. I don’t see these girls complaining about not being involved.

I believe vocations are higher than the average out of this parish on both ends. There is a group of traditional sisters on the grounds and they are inspiring just by their example.

Some may not be able to accept such a culture, but I see much joy and happiness in it and I’ve only been there 7 weeks. People come to this parish volunarily because the neighborhood is not Catholic for the most part. Rather, people commute from all over the area to be engaged in this culture and it is the youth who have latched on to it as much as the adults.

Young and orthodox :clapping:


#11

[quote=Petertherock]How about instead of worrying about which way the priest faces why don’t we worry about if we are going to have any priests to face in any direction?

Personally, I think it’s ludicris that people worry about how people hold their hands when they pray, how people shake people’s hand during the sign of peace, saying Mass in Latin, and which way the priest faces when we obviously have bigger problems to worry about.
[/quote]

I don’t mean to drift with the thread here away from the main topic, but I can’t miss an opportunity to address this issue. There are some real ways to solve the priest shortage:

  1. Close from 1/2 to 2/3 of all parishes right off the bat. There are way too many Catholics who can’t find one hour per week to give God and so the diocese are paying 2-3x the amount for utilities and the like. This way, they can combine priests and flock into fewer buildings.

  2. Of course the Church has to address why the flock is not in the pews because THAT is one of the primary causes of priest shortages. The homilies need to start shifting in such a way to worry less about our self-esteem and more about our salvation. The Bishops need to send letters out to all registered Catholics to address those who don’t feel the need to give God one hour per week and give them a little pastoral admonishment. They might start by asking people how many hours a week they devote to prime-time television, physical sports and exercise, hobbies, and other things. God should not get what is left over.

  3. The Church needs to continue working to get rid of the theologians and seminary rectors that have supported “psychological” testing of young men who show signs of orthodoxy. They need to stop sanitizing the ranks of good men with this practice because enough damage has already occured as a result of it. In place of orthodox young men, who are devout (a bad word in liberal circles) we have a crisis involving sexual scandals.

  4. We need to hear more about contraception and abortion from the pulpits so people will have the larger families that yield priests and sisters. Too many parents have talked their only son or daughter out of religious life. If they had more sons and daughters they would be more giving.

  5. And finally, please click on the link in my sig and consider adopting a priest to pray for so that he stays on the straight path or gets back onto it, whichever the case may be. It’s a challenge to find the time, but well worth it when you realize that any prayers you offer for a priest indirectly helps all of the many people he comes in contact with. In fact, you can request the name of a seminarian in need of prayers. That will help the priest shortage.


#12

[quote=A.Pelliccio]We are not the focus of mass, the Lord is. Catholics must get rid of this modernist, pseudo-protestant misconception, that we are the center of the universe.
[/quote]

:amen:

That is the whole point.

The Mass is not entertainment. It is for the worship of God.

Somewhere along the line, people got it mixed up when they wanted the Mass to make them feel good. Well, it has nothing to do with making any of us feel good, it has to do with making God “feel good”.

Making God feel good often involves sacrifice - doing things we don’t want to do, not doing things we want to do, and allowing ourselves to experience discomfort instead of experiencing comforts.

For this reason, I now prefer kneeling over sitting or standing when it is optional.

For this reason, I will not retreat to an air-conditioned church, but will remain in my 100+ degree parish in the dead of summer because the priests are willing to sacrifie their comfort as they wrap themselves in traditional vestments wound tightly up their necks in the same environment.

I’m willing to forgo shorts for the same reason. Discomfort is pleasing to God as it is self-denial and sacrifice. What better place to exercise that but during the greatest Sacrifice of all?


#13

[quote=SnorterLuster]Maybe, just maybe, if we correct the little things, the bigger problems will be solved also.
[/quote]

And the bigger problem is not the priest facing the faithful and Mass being said in vernicular.


#14

And the bigger problem is not the priest facing the faithful and Mass being said in vernicular.

first, the whole point of this thread in this forum is for people who have an intrest in the liturgy as does our Pope Benedict the 16th. so why do you care that people are interested in it? i think you must have something against latin and our rich liturgical traditions because otherwise you wouldn’t care to critize people who do care.

i’ll just leave you with what our pope has said about this subject. he thinks it’s important which objectively means a lot more then your opinon.

Raymond: And that sense of sacrifice and worship that you’ve talked about so eloquently, how do you see that being restored concretely? Will we see a return to the ad orientem posture, facing the East, the priest facing away from the people during the Canon, a return to the Latin, more Latin in the Mass?
Cardinal: Versus orientem**, I would say could be a help** because it is really a tradition from the Apostolic time, and it’s not only a norm, but it’s an expression also of the cosmical dimension and of the historical dimension of the liturgy. We are celebrating with the cosmos, with the world. It’s the direction of the future of the world, of our history represented in the sun and in the cosmical realities. I think today this new discovering of our relation with the created world can be understood also from the people, better than perhaps 20 years ago. And also, it’s a common direction – priest and people are in common oriented to the Lord. So, I think it could be a help. Always external gestures are not simply a remedy in itself, but could be a help because it’s a very classical interpretation of what is the direction of the liturgy.


#15

[quote=Petertherock]How about instead of worrying about which way the priest faces why don’t we worry about if we are going to have any priests to face in any direction?

Personally, I think it’s ludicris that people worry about how people hold their hands when they pray, how people shake people’s hand during the sign of peace, saying Mass in Latin, and which way the priest faces when we obviously have bigger problems to worry about.
[/quote]

Because the direction the priest faces and the proper gestures at mass are intrinsically united with the vocation of the priest. People forget that the mass is a lot of things:

  1. It is the representation of the eternal sacrafice that happened once and for all of Son to the Father by entering into the abiding Pasch of Christ.

  2. It is didactic (for those in Rio Linda County that means it teaches). Every gesture, posture, word and motion is defined in the rubrics to teach something explicitely or implicetly. An example of this is the reason we are not supposed to hold hands at the Pater Noster (Our Father) is because we are not united through eachother but by grace which is intangable and we are also united at mass with the Church in Purgatory and in Heaven which we cannot hold hands with. Thus, a minor action distorts both ecclesiology, escatology and systematic theology which are all being taught by a single rubric.

  3. It imparts grace as the Liturgy is the “font of all graces”

  4. Identifies in a public manner proper ecclesiology by distingushing roles of each member of the mystical body of Christ - people as body and priest as head. And, it is the head that leads the body. Further it reminds us that we are the Church “militant” and our officer (the priest) leads from the front in procession to the Holy of Holies.

  5. Solidifies the role and vocation of the priest as head, father, servant, et al. And in and through this solidification of the role of the priest as being consecrated (literally set apart from) those who hear the call can be and will be inlivened by the example that is given them both privately by their personal relationship with the priest and publicaly by the relationship that priest has with the people in the liturgy which defines his relationship with the people outside the liturgy as this springs forth from the first.

I could go on but the point is that each gesture and movement in the liturgy is diliberate and as the old saying goes “lex orandi. lex credendi” or the rule of prayer is the rule fo belief.

Veritas


#16

[quote=A.Pelliccio]We are not the focus of mass, the Lord is. Catholics must get rid of this modernist, pseudo-protestant misconception, that we are the center of the universe.
[/quote]

And when the priest faces the altar as we all do, he is offering the unbloody sacrifice for us and with us; we are all facing the same way, toward the Lord and the Tabernacle.

When the priest is facing the people we also see his personality which is not what we are there for. .Last Sunday at Mass at the final blessing, the priest started to give us the blessing, he said ‘In the name of the Father’ and then he stopped and made a comment to the music director and then he finished his blessing. I felt kind of funny with my hand on my forehead for a minute while Father finished chatting.:whistle:


#17

If you wish to discuss the Tridentine Mass, the shortage of Priests or any other topic aside from which direction you prefer Priests to face, please start a new thread or scan the currently active threads for related topics.


#18

Then mr. all-knowing, since you seem to be the definitive source on all the Church’s problems…why don’t you please enlighten us as to what is the problem.

[quote=Petertherock]And the bigger problem is not the priest facing the faithful and Mass being said in vernicular.
[/quote]


#19

Regardless of what your opinion and what the Pope’s opinion is, if they ever went back to the “traditional Latin Mass” you would see Mass attendance drop significantly which in turn means less money for the Church and more Church’s closing. It is true that mass attendance is already on the decline but going back to the priest facing away from the people would not help things. All you have to do is look at attendence of the Latin Mass’s they currently have. They are hardly any people that show up now.


#20

[quote=Petertherock]Regardless of what your opinion and what the Pope’s opinion is, if they ever went back to the “traditional Latin Mass” you would see Mass attendance drop significantly which in turn means less money for the Church and more Church’s closing. It is true that mass attendance is already on the decline but going back to the priest facing away from the people would not help things. All you have to do is look at attendence of the Latin Mass’s they currently have. They are hardly any people that show up now.
[/quote]

I don’t know where you are but down here in Southern California, we have a LOT that show up, and I do mean a lot. Not just the curious mind you, but week after week steady attendance. I travel extensively to New Orleans, Phoenix and Dallas. They amazingly have a lot showing up as well.

Of course these cities could just be aberrations, but there seems to be quite a demand for the Traditional Mass.


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