Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I love the Benedictine altar arrangement for Masses that are ad orientem. But when the Mass is facing the people as in the photo below, it just doesn't look right. And certainly if the priest was facing "toward God" and not the assembly, the bow with his head cocked to the side to read the missal wouldn't look as dreadful as it does when he faces the people as in this photo.

I have a sympathy for ad orientem Masses and see its benefit, but I also have sympathy for facing the people if the focus of the priest is not on them. A simple crucifix on the altar that is not overpowering, meaning lower than the head of the priest would help dramatically in this regard. You could still have the six candlesticks but much lower ones and angled differently on the altar so that it doesn't become an obstacle course for the congregation. The priest looks like he's behind bars and in this day an age not a good image at all!!!!

Now if you look at St. Joseph Church's altar arrangement, you notice a very modest crucifix on the altar for the priest but the huge crucifix on the reredos for the laity. The six candles are behind the altar not on it. The floor candlesticks flank the altar but don't compress it. I like this much better for Masses facing the congregation:
Click twice on the photo to blow it up and you'll see what I mean better:


Anonymous said...

I read on another blog (I think it was Fr. Z's, not positive, though) that this Mass actually was celebrated ad orientem. This particular altar is set up like the main altar in St. Peter's in Rome, i.e. the celebrant faces true East and not liturgical east.


Anonymous said...

Celebrate Ad Orientem. No confusion, no cluttered "peekaboo" distracting from the sacrifice of the Mass. Stop trying to include the laity in the mystery. I believe it has caused a conflict in the psyche of the faithful; as does calling a priest "Father Allen", instead of "Father McDonald". Classroom teachers and professors keep that respectful distance by being addressed as Mr. or Mrs. "last name". Anyone will tell you it elevates the teacher to a position of authority. Sorry ... bit of a tangent, but all part of the same problem ... a loss of respect for the priesthood, the sacrifice of the Mass, and ultimately of the absolute belief in the true presence and transformation of the Eucharist.
Which leads to another pet peeve .... receiving in the hand. It is like the domino effect.

SqueekerLamb said...

Wish list:
Ad Orientem OF Mass

No Congregation raising arms during the Lord's Prayer
No Shaking hands during the Agnus Dei
More folding hands in prayer during Mass

L. Boyer said...

"Stop trying to include the laity in the mystery." This statement belies a thorough misunderstanding of the purpose of the mass.

We ARE to be drawn into the mystery - the become partakers in this great mystery so that we can be transformed by that which is given to us - the Body and Blood of the Lord, offered to the Father in an unbloody manner.

The mystery beongs to the whole Church, laity and clergy alike.

Adlai said...

Wish list:

Pater Ignotus (a.k.a. L.Boyer, John Brown's Body, A.N.Historian,... ad infinitum pseudonyms) allowing the TLM to be said in his parish.

Baltimore Catechism and CCC in the hands of all school-age Catholic children in the Diocese of Savannah. (Might not be a bad idea for most Catholic adults too!)

No gum chewing or eating non-spiritual food at Mass.

I'm still waiting patiently.


Anonymous said...

L. Boyer ... Good point, I probably should have expressed that better.

I think the Laity are being sent mixed signals. Holding hands in "fellowship" and raising them up during the Lord's prayer, instead of folded in supplication; The sign of peace during the Agnus Dei - just seems to me to be a distraction from the true mystery. It redirects attention to self and surrounding congregation, instead of on the mystery and the sacrifice. I often find myself distracted by the "forceful" will of the person in front of me affronted by my choice not to shake hands, hug, and greet.

Certainly my catechism was not fully formed correctly; but as my faith has grown, the pull within me to do what is at times uncomfortable (because it is not what the majority do) has not seemed to be a choice at all.

When the priest faces the congregation, isn't it like a subliminal gesture that he is raising the cup to those he faces?