Ad orientem worship is the worship of God by priest (celebrant) and people facing in the same direction, i.e., toward the rising sun, which is the direction from which the Son of God will return. Some refer to this orientation as an orientation toward the liturgical East, the point being that priest and people face together toward the crucifix (which symbolizes East) above the altar which is located in the apse. If one attends the Ordinariate Mass, a Byzantine Divine Liturgy (e.g., the Liturgy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, ad orientem is the orientation of which this blogger speaks.
Fr. Z fisks Nicholls' position.
Fr. Hunwicke weighs in.
As of 2002, the GIRM says:
Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.
As we saw in Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s article, the correct English translation of this sentence is:
Correct Translation: 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.
Unfortunately, the official English translation is faulty, and contradicts the official ruling of the CDW (see below), dated 25 September 2000:
Erroneous Translation (used by pro-versus populum advocates): The altar should be built apart 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 wherever possible.
(i)f the priest were assumed to be always or normatively facing the people throughout the Offertory, there would be no need for the rubric to specify that at the “Pray, brethren” (Orate Fratres) he should now be “facing the people.” This phrase is to be taken in contraposition to “standing at the altar,” i.e., in the ad orientem position.
After the Preface, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the giving of peace:
127. The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” The people reply: “And with your spirit.”
Again, if during the Eucharistic Prayer and ensuing Communion Rite the priest had already been facing the people throughout, the boldfaced rubric would be superfluous. There is no reason to specify that the peace should be given “turned towards the people” unless he has been turned away from them until this point.