Mass facing the people - why?
#1
I asked this question on Catholic Answers forums, but I'd like to get a trad perspective as well.

Vatican II never called for Mass to be said facing the people. As far as I understand, it was the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that called for it to be made possible. Even Eastern Rite churches who have traditionally celebrated their liturgies ad orientem have Mass facing the people now.

The chapel where we have our Traditional Latin Mass on Sunday has a beautiful high altar. However, after the Mass is finished, two people move the wooden table back in front of the high altar for the weekday Masses. I don't know why the priest who says the daily Masses can't do them at the high altar, ad orientem.

So why has Mass facing the people, which was never mandated by Vatican II, become almost universal now?
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#2
(04-11-2017, 10:01 PM)MichaelNZ Wrote: So why has Mass facing the people, which was never mandated by Vatican II, become almost universal now?
My two cents...

Abuses became indults or exceptions and then the exceptions became the "rule." We see it with Communion in the hand. We see it with versus populum. We see it with a lack of Latin. The "spirit of Vatican II" folks came in with their drum sets and folk songs and liturgically danced their way into a routine. People who should have spoken up either remained silent or were ignored.
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#3
There were a lot of discussions in the Vatican sessions :) To read all of the Acta would take a long time, and many things weren't even written down.

Also, even if the Council did not explicitly call for it, the Commission that developed the New Mass found it to be an interesting idea. After all, ancient and venerable religious orders used to have the monks seat to the left and right of the Altar, and the Old St. Peter's used to have this unique custom in which the priest and the people would "face the same way" but that's because they were all facing outwards (the people would turn towards the East after the consecration...until then the mass was "ad populum" and "ad orientem" at the same time!).

Of course, it helped that the first NO mass, celebrated by Pope Paul VI, was celebrated facing the people. He never said it was mandatory, but people sort of "took the hint" that this was the way to go. Back then, people kinda did things the way they felt they should be done...

Eastern Rites adopted the "ad populum" posture sometimes out of Latinization, other times to promote greater unity with the Latin Church. Be as it may, their Patriarchs are dealing with that ;)

The new Missal left the option to face East and it was probably never intended to be completely Ad Populum. Cardinal Sarah spoke about this in London, and recommended a slow but sure re-introduction of the Ad Orientem. A rigid re-establishment of the practice would be taken very badly by most parishioners who would get the impression that suddenly the priest is "giving them his back" or some nonsense. Which is why an appropriate liturgical catechesis is needed. But first we need to fix the ordinary catechesis :D
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#4
(04-11-2017, 10:01 PM)MichaelNZ Wrote: So why has Mass facing the people, which was never mandated by Vatican II, become almost universal now?

How can the Mass be all about us when the priest is facing God?
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#5
It's an abuse by modernists who wish to be entertainers rather than priests offering sacrifice to God. Now we have lay people who are afraid of seeing the priest face the other way because they want the Mass to be all about themselves and the community. This practice if anything has decreased the piety of the Mass and has made many Catholics falsely believe that the Mass is not the bloodless representation of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary which exists at all times and all places. When the priest faces the people it gives the illusion of a communal meal rather than a sacrifice. Maybe we need the rood screens back to make the point.

The Roman Missal actually is written in a way that shows the Mass is to be ad orientem. it wouldn't tell the priest at certain points to "Face the people" if he already was facing them. Also, there are times where it says to face the altar, but with versus populum facing the people and facing the altar are one and the same... here are examples of it saying "face the people"
[Image: BGgzJht.png]
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#6
(04-11-2017, 10:01 PM)MichaelNZ Wrote: So why has Mass facing the people, which was never mandated by Vatican II, become almost universal now?

Why?  Well..

“The Protestant Reformers were united in abolishing the eastward celebration of the Eucharist because they understood, quite correctly, that the eastward direction signified sacrifice, and the denial of the sacrificial nature of the Mass was an axiom upon which the entire Protestant heresy was based.” Michael Davies “The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council”; Tan Books 1997, pgs. 6-7

The committee that created the "Novus Ordo" was Masonic/Protestant/Modernist "Catholic" so that is the very short answer.
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#7
(04-12-2017, 02:43 PM)BC Wrote: The committee that created the "Novus Ordo" was Masonic/Protestant/Modernist "Catholic" so that is the very short answer.

But the mass was only enacted under the authority of the reigning Pontiff, Paul VI, correct? So technically it wouldn't matter whether there were heretics, masons, or protestants in the committee that drafted the new edition. And we know the Pope personally made some corrections to the mass and was the first one to celebrate it.
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#8
(04-12-2017, 04:01 PM)Macarius Wrote:
(04-12-2017, 02:43 PM)BC Wrote: The committee that created the "Novus Ordo" was Masonic/Protestant/Modernist "Catholic" so that is the very short answer.

But the mass was only enacted under the authority of the reigning Pontiff, Paul VI, correct? So technically it wouldn't matter whether there were heretics, masons, or protestants in the committee that drafted the new edition. And we know the Pope personally made some corrections to the mass and was the first one to celebrate it.

That doesn't mean the new Mass is perfect just because a Pope promulgated it, or that, compared to the traditional rite, it places more of an emphasis on the meal aspect of the Mass instead of the sacrificial aspect. It's still the same sacrifice, but it's a lot easier to interpret it otherwise if you want to.
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#9
It was a convergence of a few somewhat  unrelated ideas that all came together at once.  It actually started being done before Vatican II (in the 1940s and 50s)

There used to be good article online about one of the early reformers (it was definitely pro- what he did) who helped spread a lot of these things before Vatican II even.  It really explained well the thinking. It all actually stemmed from Mystici Corporis, which was considered the magna carta of the liturgical reform, interesting enough.  Corporate worship--or worship as one body--got a whole new emphasis.  Some reformers took this to mean everyone should be doing and focused on the same thing. Along those lines was developed the idea of "unity of image"--everyone should be focused on the sacrifice on the altar.  To accomplish this, the priest was turned around so everyone could see what was going on at the altar, side altars and a lot of other imagery was done away with to make the altar of sacrifice the sole focus.

Other reformers, especially after Vatican II, took to it because they saw it has helping the priest better engage the congregation for both didactic purposes and dialogue/"active" participation.

The removal of "extraneous" imagery also fed into the ideas of the more ecumenical reformers and the simplification was embraced by those who wanted more of a focus on the supper aspect. 

Then you had the ambiguous instruction which appeared to say it was preferable.

All that came together at once.

I've said this before, but one of the main reasons the reform didn't work is because there were so many different motives that all went into it at once, some often contradictory (like the switch to vernacular to increase the didactic element, with the extreme simplification which removed most of the didactic content, etc.).
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