Robert Cardinal Sarah's recommendation (it isn't a mandate yet) on celebrating the Mass toward the liturgical east of our churches, which is the apse of any Catholic church building regardless of the actual geographical direction of the apse.
The opinions of the callers was mixed, some vehemently opposed because they simply are coloring book Catholics who don't understand the symbolism of ad orientem and think it excludes them, poor little souls. Some endorsed it but again for the wrong reasons saying the Mass should be celebrated toward the tabernacle--what nonsense!
But others, more cogent in their informed rhetoric got it right as a symbol of facing the geographical sunrise, facing the geographical Jerusalem which is ultimately facing the new and heavenly Jerusalem coming down from the sky!
Ad orientem refers to a symbolic geographical position within the building which is symbolically oriented toward Jerusalem. In the Church's case, the New Jerusalem, that heavenly city.
Geographically, but symbolically fulfilled in every Catholic Church (except the major basilicas in Rome, which are oriented geographically east toward the earthly Jerusalem and where the sun rises in the sky, except for St. Paul outside the Walls) ad orientem is an orientation toward the sunrise with its symbolic implications for the Rising of the Son on Easter morn!
Apart from that, it also indicates that the priest and the congregation are oriented together in the same direction for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which eternity touches the finite and Jesus Christ by the will of the Heavenly Father is returned to us in an eternal "Resurrection" upon our altars. He comes again from the east, the heavenly Jerusalem symbolized by the actual Jerusalem on earth.
In addition, the Roman Missal placed on the ad orientem altar is the prayer of the Church, clergy and laity alike, and they are reading from the one book together albeit in a symbolic way. We all see the Roman Missal as it is facing all of us, not just the priest!
But how realistic is it that every priest would implement this wonderful, time honored tradition of the Church interrupted for only 50 years this year by the arrogance of those who did it as some kind of panacea for the "springtime" of the Church that this orientation would bring about but never did and in fact more than likely helped to disintegrate the Church and her liturgy?
So many Catholics actually think that the Mass is a dialogue between the priest and the congregation. What nonsense! They also believe that ad orientem means the priest is turning his back to them and that they aren't important to the Mass--what nonsense, sounds like Adam and Eve all over again!
But the greatest obstacle to Robert Cardinal Sarah's vision for the authentic renewal of the post-Vatican II Mass is that it isn't a mandate. Bishops have to be on board from a mandate on high endorsed by Pope Francis.
So much of the good things that Pope Benedict modeled in his liturgies were proposals not mandates and we see where these have ended up, completely ignored or mocked.
As a new pastor of a parish, I would never begin to implement ad orientem at our three weekend Masses, two on Sunday, one Saturday evening, without my bishop's tacit approval.
That is what is needed! Bishops need to be on board or a debacle will occur!