Yes Virginia, both these Masses at St. Joseph Church face the symbolic or liturgical east, both are ad orientem! Why? because the celebrant of the Mass faces a crucifix in front of him (although barely seen in the first photo) and does so also when the celebrant faces the same direction as the congregation. The crucifix for both the congregation and the laity is the point of the symbolic or liturgical east according to Pope Benedict. Thus when facing the congregation, the celebrant must have a crucifix in front of him for him to see and orient himself as the point of the symbolic or liturgical east where the crucifixion occurred in Jerusalem.
When the celebrant faces this way, the common crucifix for the celebrant and congregation doesn't work and thus an additional crucifix central on the altar for the celebrant to see is required for the "symbolic" ad orientem or facing eastward liturgically:
Those who think it is retro to celebrate the Catholic Mass toward the east like Bishop James Conley does in his ultra modern cathedral are apoplectic that this tradition is finding a recovery in the 21st century.
Yet, this tradition of the celebrant facing eastward for the Mass is the most ancient tradition of the Church and still maintained by the eastern rite of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
However, traditionalists who have a narrow view of ad orientem should reorient their narrow view to a wider one. At St. Joseph Church, no matter which way the priest faces the altar, toward the nave or toward the apse, symbolically he is facing the liturgical east. Why? Because of the placement of the crucifix in front of the celebrant, not the direction the priest and people are geographically facing.
At the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, the celebrant faces the geographic west toward St. Peter’s Basilica.
Symbolically Saints Peter and Paul face each other. At all the major basilicas in Rome beginning with Rome's cathedral, St. John Lateran, the first to be built by Constantine when Catholicism became the law of the Roman Empire, basilicas were built with a free standing altar and the celebrant facing the geographical east while at the same time facing those in the nave who faced him.
The ancient great basilicas all had the
celebrant facing the geographical east all the while facing the nave
except for St. Paul’s. When the Church was able to go public in Rome
with St. John Lateran the celebrant facing the geographical east was the
earliest tradition for church buildings, but the real question is when
did the symbolic “liturgical east” develop?
It is important to keep in mind that after Vatican II the major basilicas did not have to reorient their altars whatsoever. the novelty, though that developed in the late 1960's or early 70's was the reorientation of candlesticks and the central crucifix. At St. Peter's the novelty was for very low flung candlesticks and no crucifix. Then Pope St. John Paul placed four taller candlesticks on its altar and a large crucifix, but it was to the side, not central.
Pope Benedict recovered the
emphasis on the central crucifix on the altar even when the celebrant
faces the nave, thus the crucifix becomes the point of the symbolic
liturgical east, not necessarily the direction of the celebrant.
seems both traditions in this regard, the central crucifix or celebrant
and congregation facing the same direction developed in close proximity.
In the immediate aftermath of Vatican II when the altars were
repositioned a central crucifix still remained for some years until
liturgists decided otherwise somewhere in the very late 1960′s or early
70′s. They didn’t want the elements of bread and wine (consecrated or
not) to be in competition with candles and cross or obscured by these
let alone the celebrant. The whole concept of competition with what is
on the altar and being able to see the bread and wine prior to
consecration and afterward seems to be the modern novelty (abuse) based upon an
over-emphasis on meal to the detriment of sacrifice. Of course the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is both sacrifice and banquet, not either/or but both/and.
In my parish one of our four Sunday (Ordinary Form) Masses is toward the
apse for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but for all Masses here, there is
still a central crucifix although low-flung on the altar serving the
purpose that Pope Benedict suggests. And in my church when I face the
congregation I am facing geographically eastward and when facing away,
geographically westward but all Masses are symbolically eastward. I love
ad orientem! Don't you?