So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

FSSP Ordinations - 8am Pacific Time Friday May 26th

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

'Face east... can't make me!' The reluctant Catholic.

reluctance (Online Etymological Dictionary)
1640s, "act of struggling against," from obsolete verb reluct "to struggle or rebel against" (1520s), from Latin reluctari "to struggle against, resist, make opposition," from re- "against" + luctari "to struggle, wrestle," perhaps shares a common origin with Greek lygos "pliant twig," lygizein "to bend, twist," Old English locc "twist of hair". Meaning "unwillingness" is first attested 1660s.
Why is it that we do not worship facing east (ad orientem) as our ancestors did for nearly two millennia? Have we been conned to believe that Mass must be celebrated facing the people? It certainly seems so.
  • Ad orientem worship is the prescribed orientation of the Ordinary Form Mass of the Roman Church. It is the orientation assumed in the Roman Missal! — see article below.
  • Ad orientem worship remains the orientation of the Extraordinary Form Mass of the Roman Church. Deo gratias!
  • Ad orientem worship is the orientation of Divine Worship in the Ordinariate. Thanks be to God!
  • Ad orientem worship remains the orientation of the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. 
It seems that, after 20 years of having discussed the issue with many priests pro- and con-, the main obstacle to ad orientem worship is 1) priests with an attitude of indifference or 2) priests who are poorly formed in liturgical theology or 3) priests who are obstinately revisionist and given to imposing a personal preference that has no basis in the texts of the Second Vatican Council.

Anyone with a computer or smartphone can search online for the term ad orientem and discover in numerous places the aspects of Catholic liturgy described in the instructive article included below. If you have time, check out the original essay in its entirety.

N.B. Red highlighting has been added by Catholic Sacristan.
About Face? by Gary D. Penkala
03 May 2016
I. Ad orientem in the Roman Missal
Trent Beattie, in the National Catholic Register, writes, "None of the sixteen conciliar documents contains an endorsement, let alone a mention, of the practice of the priest facing the congregation (versus populum) during the prayers of the Mass." While I had known for a long time that much of the liturgical practice of the 1970s derived from an "imposed" notion of what the liturgical documents said, I hadn't realized how these notions still contradict even what's found in the 2002 English translation of the GIRM.
The GIRM states that the Introductory Rites are led by the celebrant from the Presider's Chair:
When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair.
During the Liturgy of the Word, the celebrant and ministers, like the people, are seated, except for the Gospel Acclamation and Gospel.
An Offertory Procession may take place, the faithful bringing forward bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. No mention is made in the Roman Missal as to who receives these gifts or where. The celebrant may receive these at the chair or, as has become typical, in front of the altar, handing them to the ministers who prepare the altar. After the altar has been prepared, the Priest prays the Offertory Prayers, "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation…" either aloud, or silently (if there is music).
Incensing may occur, after which the Priest washes his hands, standing at the side of the altar. The Roman Missal then says,
Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people, extending and then joining his hands, he says, "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice…" [#29] emphasis added.
This is the first obvious example that versus populum (facing the people) is not at all assumed by the Roman Missal. If the Priest were already standing at the altar facing the people, the rubric would not need to say, "Face the people."
The Prayer over the Offerings, Preface and Eucharistic Prayer are then said facing the altar (ad orientem), since these require text from the Roman Missal, which has been placed on the altar.
Yet again, the Roman Missal assumes the Priest to be facing East — during the Rite of Peace, after the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you…", the rubric notes:
The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: The peace of the Lord be with you always [#127].
If the Priest were assumed to be behind the altar facing the people, again there would be no need to say "turned toward the people."
Further, after the Agnus Dei, the Roman Missal says:
The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud: "Behold the Lamb of God…" [#132].
After praying with the people, "Lord, I am not worthy…",
The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly, "May the Body of Christ keep me safe…" [#133].
After distributing Communion, the Priest may return to the chair. The Prayer after Communion may be said either from the chair or from the front side of the altar.
Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: "Let us pray…" [#139].
Brief announcements may be made.
Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: "The Lord be with you…" [#141].
Then the Deacon, or the Priest himself, with hands joined and facing the people, says: "Go forth, the Mass is ended…" or another dismissal formula [#144].
It should be clear, from the number of times that the Roman Missal instructs the Priest to "face the people" that this is not assumed to be his default posture during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Ad orientem (i.e. facing liturgical East) seems to be the assumed posture.
But wait a minute, you might say. Doesn't GIRM #299 clearly state a preference for Mass "facing the people"?
It is desirable that in every church there be a fixed altar. The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable whenever possible [GIRM #298-299].
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf contends that this is actually a mistranslation of the Latin. More accurate is:
The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.
Hence, "wherever possible" refers to the altar being away from the back wall, not that the celebrant should always face the people.
Additional excellent information at:

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