Verus Populum, the practice of the celebrant facing the people during the mass is a serious rupture in historical, traditional Catholic worship. In the last few decades, new liturgical modes were imposed and many churches were redesigned with this in mind High altars were either ripped out or abandoned, new churches had these omitted altogether. The new norm was for verus populum worship, where the priest faces the congregation during the mass. But this is a very serious rupture from historical Catholic practices and is comes with very serious theological implications
Here is what the Methodist church says on this issue: “In our churches, the Communion table is to be placed in such a way that the presider is able to stand behind it, facing the people, and the people can visually if not physically gather around it. While architectural integrity should be respected, it is important for churches to carefully adapt or renovate their worship spaces more fully to invite the people to participate in the Holy Meal. If altars are for all practical purposes immovable, then congregations should make provisions for creating a table suitable to the space so that the presiding minister may face the people and be closer to them.”
- Verus Populum is a very protestant idea. It’s aim is to strip away the idea of the mass as a holy sacrifice and make it into a “meal”.
- Rather than making a holy offering to God we are simply a family gathered around a “table”.
- The Priest is not making an offering on behalf of the people, acting 'in persona Christi", rather he is a “presider”, leading a ceremony for the congregation.
- Historical churches have been “wheck-tovated” to accommodate for this practice. New church design has been dramatic departures from traditional designs that supported and reflected Catholic theology.
- AND verus populum contributes to clericalism because it puts at the center of the mass the personality of the celebrant, while Ad Orientem keeps the focus on worshiping God.
I believe strong that how we worship should reflect what we believe and likewise how we worship influences our beliefs. It should be no surprise that since versus populum has become the norm we have seen declined belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, dramatic increases in apostasy, and dramatic declines in vocations. We need to turn to God, we need to return to traditional and historic Catholic worship done Ad Orientem.