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Top Vatican liturgical official urges 'ad orientem' liturgy

July 06, 2016

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Liturgy, has recommended that priests throughout the world celebrate Mass ad orientem, beginning at Advent.

In the ad orientem posture, the priest celebrates Mass facing altar, facing toward the East; thus the priest and the congregation face in the same direction, rather than facing each other. 

"I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible," Cardinal Sarah said, speaking to the Sacra Liturgia conference in London on July 5. He encouraged pastors to prepare their people for the change by explaining the significance of the ad orientem posture.

It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction-- eastwards or at least toward the apse-- to the Lord who comes," the cardinal said. He said that it would be appropriate to begin using this posture as the Church enters the season of Advent, "when we attend 'the Lord who will come.'"


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Show 12 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Terri11 - Jul. 11, 2016 1:02 AM ET USA

    I have no problem with us all facing the same direction, but East, is towards the back of the church. Maybe his direction should be for all future churches to be built facing East.

  • Posted by: mwean7331 - Jul. 07, 2016 8:58 PM ET USA

    Are we finally "turning a corner"? Seems like Holy Spirit has chosen Cardinal Sarah as His voice. The cardinal has spoken very enlightened words of late. Ad Orientum is his latest. Perhaps he will sit in the chair of St Peter one day. It's not going to be easily accepted I fear the present generation doesn't understand They see Mass as some "social" gathering ( kiss of peace etc) perhaps the Priest won't be the center of attention. How do we get the tabernacle back now

  • Posted by: HKS - Jul. 07, 2016 2:27 PM ET USA

    I've had the opportunity to attend a couple of daily masses with the ad orientem posture. It takes a little getting used but is a beautiful and meaningful way to be a part of mass, priest and people worshiping God together! ( I did grow up when ad orientem was the norm.)

  • Posted by: mark8813 - Jul. 07, 2016 9:14 AM ET USA

    Praise be to God. What a great blessing this will be for all of us.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Jul. 07, 2016 7:18 AM ET USA

    Has he officially recommended or is this more asking? I hope many priests respond positively to his urge. If it is official then he should have directed his comment to the Bishops and instructed them to implement. I am afraid that not many priests will change due to Cardinal Sarah's urging.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 07, 2016 3:14 AM ET USA

    The change will leave no room for personal "creativity" in the Liturgy. Thanks be to God!

  • Posted by: lak321 - Jul. 06, 2016 10:05 PM ET USA

    If we learned anything from the successful transition to the new translation, it is: lots of heads-up and lots of catechesis about what it means and why we are doing it.

  • Posted by: ILM - Jul. 06, 2016 7:53 PM ET USA

    Wow. As Blessed Mother says; "pray, pray, pray".

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jul. 06, 2016 6:22 PM ET USA

    I'm a convert from early Anglican worship, so ad orientem was de guerre behavior for me. I would love to see priests face the east again. Maybe it would remind them they are praying to God and not to the people.

  • Posted by: jacquebquique5708 - Jul. 06, 2016 6:08 PM ET USA

    The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The Mass faced the rising sun as a tribute to the Resurrection. The "old Mass" was very much a show of dominance over the pagan culture of the sun god. In fact, the Celtic cross of St. Patrick has a ring which is synonymous with the cross overcoming paganism. We are a new social church. The links with Jewish traditions are fading and there appears to be a return to paganism.

  • Posted by: DanS - Jul. 06, 2016 1:19 PM ET USA

    Thanks be to God for Cardinal Sarah!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 06, 2016 1:10 PM ET USA

    More and more there is a sense of urgency. It can be seen in writings of Catholic journalists, it can be heard in the voices of "conservative" faithful and prelates. Something has got to give. Pope Benedict initiated the return in 2007 with clarification regarding the extraordinary form, and with reform of the vernacular translation of the mass. This looking to the past for solutions is wise, time-tested, and inevitable. It has taken time and we have paid a price. But there is hope.