Q: What documents of the Council mandate or even talk about the priest facing the assembly during the celebration of Mass? The nature of some the elements of the ritual—readings, preaching, dialogue, invitation to prayer—certainly suggest that set-up. But where can specific discussion or even mandate of this be found? I grew up in a culture where the Council was received with gratitude–and with wide acceptance. Now I find myself needing to explain context—and to explain that the Council was not all about change to “modernize” as a fad.
A: The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy does not address the direction that the priest faces. Nor does it say anything about incense, processions, or the collection. It set the direction for the liturgical reforms, which Pope St. Paul VI put into the hands of the Consilium for Implementing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal calls for the priest to face the people in no. 299. You can find more references in my article: https://paulturner.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Amen-Corner-Ad-Orientem.pdf .