One of the best descriptions of Ad Orientum that I have heard came from an unlikely source: a moderate priest. I wouldn’t classify him as a liberal, but he certainly isn’t a conservative. Here is what he wrote on a message board. Emphasis mine.

Respectfully, it seems that the proponents of both sides of this discussion have missed an important point. The priest standing at the altar in the position prescribed by the 1962 Roman Missal is not “turning his back of the people”, but “standing with the people in prayer”. When he says, “Te igitur, clementissime Pater … rogamus, ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas haec + dona, haec + munera, haec + sancta sacrificia” illibata … ” [We therefore humbly pray and beseech you, most merciful Father … to accept and bless these + gifts, these + presents, this holy and unblemished Victim …” he is not speaking in some form of the royal We”, but uniting himself with the members of the congregation in the normal grammatical first person plural: We, not Me!

On the other hand, the priest who stands behind the altar facing the congreation, is, by his stance, separating himself from the people for whom he is celebrating the Eucharist, not uniting himself with them.

Interesting thought! The priest who faces the congregation from behind the altar is separating himself from the congregation while the priest who faces the same direction as the congregation is uniting himself with them. Now, I know he wasn’t the first person to make this distinction, but I thought he was the perfect source to highlight since he isn’t the typical person to make a comment like this.

For more from Fr. John, check out his blog: Bear Witness to the Light.

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