Ad Orientem

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I find your blog to be very helpful. We have a few priests in our Archdiocese who are now using the posture Ad Orientem. My pastor mentioned that one specific priest says he is following the GIRM in doing this. I couldn’t find the reference; perhaps GIRM 42. In reading your discussion from pg. 27-29 in Ars Celebrandi, you refer to GIRM 299, and I would understand this to direct the priest to face the people. I am curious as to why the Ad Orientum posture is becoming the preference of some priests. My pastor said it should be used during Consecration. He also mentioned that we need to be more reverent at Mass.
Thank you for any insights.


A: The GIRM, in fact, does not promote having the presider turn his back to the people. Quite the contrary, GIRM 299 says that it is “desirable whenever possible” for the priest to say Mass facing the people. If it is possible for him to face the people, then that is what he is to do.

The Order of Mass does give instructions for moments during the Mass when the priest is specifically to face the people. This covers the rare circumstances when it is not possible to do so throughout the Mass. Even in the Order of Mass, however, there are no instructions for the priest to turn away from the people—only instructions for him to face them.

I cannot speak for those who prefer not to follow these instructions, but I suggest you ask the priests in question for their views.

Regarding your pastor’s comment, if he is implying that turning away from the people at the consecration is more reverent, I find that hard to defend.