14 November 2006

Celebrating the Novus Ordo Ad Orientem?

Can the the Novus Ordo be celebrated Ad Orientem? The celebration of the Mass Ad Orientem (facing East, instead of facing the people) is implied in the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM). One does not even need to read it in depth. Here is a post from WDTPRS...

In #132 we find: Sacerdos genuflectit, accipit hostiam, eamque aliquantulum elevatam super patenam vel super calicem tenens, versus ad populum, clara voce dicit: Ecce Agnus Dei,.... The priest genuflects, takes the Host and, holding it raised a little way over the paten or over the chalice, having turned toward the people, says in a clear voice: Behold the Lamb of God….

The people make their response and then in #133 we find: Et sacerdos, versus ad altare, secreto dicit: Corpus Christi…. And the priest, having turned toward the altar, says silently: May the Body of Christ…

In these two rubrics there is a specific order of actions. First, the priest turns to the people. Then, he turns to the altar. This is only possible if the priest is celebrating Holy Mass facing the altar and the people are behind him facing the same direction as the priest. The rubric is clear in this moment before Communion.

Somewhat less immediately clear is the rubric at the Orate Fratres in #29, which says that the priest, while standing at the middle of the altar, turns to the people (versus ad populum) to say “Pray brethren, that my sacrifice and yours…”. Then in #30 the priest is directed to speak the Super Oblata prayer, but there is no indication that he turns back to the altar: there is no second versus. Why? The priest, turning to the people to invite their response, simply continues to turn in the same direction back to the altar. The single versus in this case indicates a completed turn in circle. In #132 and #133 (above) the two different instances of versus indicate two turns, one toward the people by the priest’s right and one toward the altar by his left. There is no complete circle. In this way the Novus Ordo is consistent with the older “Tridentine” Rite at this same moment in Mass. In the older, traditional way the priest turns by his right away from the altar and toward the people. He speaks the invitation. He turns back to the altar, always by his right, in the same direction, thus completing the circle. The rubric in the 2002MR has language very similar to the corresponding rubric in the 1962MR. Thus, HE of TN, we have clear support in the 2002MR for ad orientem celebration.

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