Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ad Orientem Or Not Ad Orientem

As a Catholic with a rather traditional leaning I cannot help but pose six reasons traditionalists say facing "ad orientem," or "to the east," is better than the more recent and modern "ad populus," or "to the people." I see the benefits of both but for arguement sake I post the six reasons why facing ad orientem is better in my opinion.

I. It binds the priest and people together. The priest is doing as the people do. Both priest and people face the same direction. Seeing ranks of priests confronting the people over an altar can create the image of a two class system.

II. It recalls Mosaic and Old Testmanent typology. The priest leads the poeple to the place of meeting at the altar where he offers the sacrifice. From there the priest returns to the people with the body and blood of Christ.

III. It also recalls typlogoy of the resurrection.The early Church Fathers likened the rising sun in the east with the Rising Son of the Father at the resurrection. The east was the source of new light, as Christ is the source of light to the workd Thus creation itself witnesses to the life of Christ.

IV. The priest is the mediator. By leading the people to God, the priest also brings God to the people. This emphasizes the ontological nature of the priesthood.

V. Christ completes the Eucharistic Community. When priest and people face the same way, there reamins something of an incomplete circle in the worship. However, after Christ becomes present on the altar, He completes that circle and, as such, the Eucharistic community, which is His mystical body. If the priest is already behind the altar, this valuable image is destroyed.

VI. The Mass does not rely on the priest's personality and whims. By turing to the altar, the priest has fewer opportunities of showing off. Too often, masses become the Father.... show. While this can be fun and seemingly more people friendly, it can also distract the faithful. The priest is not the leading part; Christ is!

So, your opinion?

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