ad orientem.jpgA friend started a few years ago, after doing the required study and catechesis, to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass facing East, or if you will, facing God. Father Kirby argues well his case for a priest to offer Mass suing the ad orientem gesture. And for goodness sake, don’t call it “Mass with the priest’s back to the congregation.” It only shows ignorance of a proper liturgical tradition to say such. This aspect praying the Mass is met with fear and anger from bishops and seminary professors, not to mention pastors and laity that has more to do with a lack of understanding of liturgical prayer and too often agenda-ladened.

Father Mark Daniel Kirby lists 10 good reasons why a priest ought to celebrate Mass in the more venerable and correct way of celebrating the Mass:
1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.
2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.
3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.

4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.
5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.
6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.
7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.
8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.
9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.
10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention, and devotion.

I would add: it is not only theologically correct, but it is coherent with history and facing East, even liturgical East, reminds all of us that a liturgical cosmology factors into our “catholic” tradition of prayer.

The of Father Kirby’s article is found here.