By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The 5th False Myth About the "Vatican II" Mass

Holy MassImage via Wikipedia
5. The fifth false myth is that it is improper to celebrate the Mass of Justin Martyr with the priest "facing the people." The official rules that govern the celebration of the Mass provide as follows:
299. The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. 

Source link (General Instruction on the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, 2002; emphasis added by blogger ).

That's the answer. 

Here are some purely extra comments by me:

1. "Facing the people" does not imply that the priest is ignoring God, or that the people are transfixed by the wonderful face of the priest during the liturgy, especially at the time of or immediately after the consecration. Any such allegation is clearly polemical and, in my view, absurd, although it is commonly made and strangely presumed to be a self-evident description of celebration facing the people.

2.  In fact, the most accurate way to describe celebration facing the people is that both the priest and the people are together offering the sacrifice to God the Father. The priest is, certainly and of course, not offering the sacrifice to the people and is not fixing his gaze at the people at the moment of consecrating and offering the host and chalice, just as the people are not focused on admiring the face of the priest during the consecration. What the priest does after the consecration is to show the sacrificed body and blood of Christ to the people-- appropriately enough because, at the moment of Christ's crucifixion, the veil of the Jewish Temple was torn (Matthew 27:51).

Interestingly, offering the sacrifice "toward" a crucifix arguably blurs the fact that the priest acting in the person of Christ is actually offering the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus to the Father. A crucifix behind the offering priest or above the offering priest in fact better matches in visual terms the role of the priest standing in the person of Christ to make the offering of the broken body and poured out blood to the Father. (But I am not implying in any way that offering the sacrifice toward or facing a crucifix is in any way improper or blameworthy. Of course, it's not.)