Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 27 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Vincent de Paul

Ad Orientem and Versus Populum both make sense

Simcha Fisher - published on 05/14/14

Here we see a cartoon meant to illustrate why it “makes more sense” for the priest to be facing the altar and the crucifix, as he does when celebrating the Traditional  Latin Mass:

PIC ad orientam versus populum cartoon

I’ve seen this cartoon in various places, most recently here. It’s cute, but misleading. Recall what the catechism says:

1368The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.

When the priest and Christ crucified are both facing the same way, it brings out the idea that Christ allows us, with the priest as a mediator between heaven and earth, to share in the sacrifice that He re-presents to the Father.  This is particularly obvious during the Elevation, when the priest raises the consecrated Host above his head, and the congregation makes a profound bow.

It’s an error to refer to Ad Orientem as “the priest with his back to the people”; but it’s also an error to refer to Versus Populum as “the priest with his back to God.” Each orientation is a valid way to celebrate Mass, and both expresses something true, mystical, and profound about what is happening.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
2
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
5
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
peace
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More