Saturday, January 7, 2023


In India and with one of its Eastern Rite Churches, Latinization of this Rite’s Liturgy has taken place since Vatican II, so much so, that their Liturgy began to be celebrated facing the people, a breach in their tradition in the East. It was and is also a breach in the Latin Rite’s tradition too!!!

Like many of us Latin Rite Catholics who are rediscovering our Tradition of liturgical orientation, so has the Eastern Rite of the Indian Church. 

Thus, in a desire for a unified orientation in celebrating the Liturgy, it was decided that the Liturgy of the Eucharist would be celebrated Ad Orientem or towards the Liturgical East. The Introductory and Concluding Rites at the chair facing the congregation.

Most stunning of all, Pope Francis approved and wants to enforce the unified way this rite will celebrate the Liturgy and ad orientem at that. Pope Francis is threatening sanctions against those clergy and others who want the irreverent orientation of Mass, facing the congregation, and forms, in an obvious way there, irreverent and sacrilegious Catholics!

But one loud and irreverent group in this Eastern Rite Church refuses to celebrate the Liturgy ad orientem! 

And to prove how Catholics, either in the west or the east, have lost their sense of reverence and respect for the sacred as a result of celebrating the Mass facing the congregation,  this is what these Catholics who hate ad orientem did as reported by the Pillar:

The long-running “liturgy war” in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has been punctuated by street brawls, hunger strikes, the burning of pastoral letters, and the immolation of cardinals’ effigies.

But it took an even more shocking turn shortly before Christmas, when rival groups clashed inside a cathedral in southern India. In the melee, the altar was dragged across the sanctuary by protesters, sending sacred vessels crashing to the ground.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Ernakulam was cleared by police and shut down, forcing parishioners to celebrate Christmas elsewhere.



TJM said...

Just muscle flexing by a tyrant - he places little value on good liturgy, a Jesuit tradition

Carter said...

1. @TJM, it seems you didn't read the post, Pope Francis is supporting the celebration of the liturgy ad orientem....not sure how your comment follows from that? It seems to be some Francis derangement syndrome at work.

2. It is a bit of an error to say that versus populum is a breach of our latin rite tradition, especially considering that Mass in the major Roman basilicas have been versus populum since their construction. What was sort of new in the 60s was idea that the liturgy is always celebrated toward the nave rather than toward a cardinal direction such as east or south. However constructing altars and celebrating Mass versus populum is not a new arramgement. St. Charles Borromeo writes about the proper construction of Churches, promoting free standing altars and if the Church was built such that the altar was on the west end of the Church, then the priest would face the nave and the people just as in st peters basilica. Further, basically as long as the Roman Missal has had rubrics, it has had rubrics which allow mass facing the people if the altar is so constructed that it faces east that way. See link below and your own 1962 missal. Therefore Mass facing the people has a long presence in Latin Rite and is not per se destructive. What is and has been destructive is the mentality of the priests celebrating mass in an irreverent manner, thinking they are saying the eucharistic prayer to the congregation and not God the Father.

In fact, it might be the case the Roman Rite was the only rite that had versus populum celebrations for 1000 + years, as I am not sure about the history with eastern liturgies.

Carter said...

I forgot to include the link mentioned in my previous comment...

and here is the Vatican on versus populum which gets at the heart of what my previous comment was saying, it's not facing the people that is per se wrong, it is the mentality of the priest that is wrong.

I would certainly agree that versus populum every single time can foster such a wrong idea, which is why it is nice pope francis publicly celebrates more ad orientem Masses than Benedict XVI did.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you Carter for your thoughtful comments. I believe, though, that in all the major Roman Basilicas, the celebrant at the altar facing the congregation is facing the geographical east as the building of these basilicas foresaw this configuration with a free standing altar.

And yes, the attached altar (to a reredos or a wall) is a later development.

The only exception that I am aware of to the configuration toward the geographical east of a major basilica is St. Paul's Outside the Walls. However, the reason I was told is that when celebrating Mass, the altars and celebrants of St. Peter's and St. Paul's are facing each other thus a symbol of St. Peter and St. Paul as individuals facing each other.

And yes, the 1962 Roman Missal has an image of a freestanding altar to show how to incense it by going around it completely.But the traditional altar set-up remains the same.

I do not think that facing the congregation on an altar capable of it is forbidden by the pre-Vatican II Roman Missals. However, the candlesticks and crucifix remain on the altar as Pope Benedict desired.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

BTW, the central crucifix facing the celebrant, no matter which direction the priest celebrates the Mass, functions as a symbolic liturgical east, as the Crucifix becomes the symbol of facing the geographical Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. I think that is a good compromise and should be mandated for altars in the Modern Roman Missal, when these altars allow for the celebrant to face the congregation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, the Eastern Orthodox and the Rites in union with the Pope always had free standing altars, but the priest still had his back to the people, so to speak.

ByzRus said...

"Also, the Eastern Orthodox and the Rites in union with the Pope always had free standing altars, but the priest still had his back to the people, so to speak."

I'm afraid this is not correct when we consider the Armenian Catholics, Chaldean Catholics (who continue to retain the practice in places, the Syro-Malabars and perhaps other Thomasene Churches and I believe the Maronites retain this in places as well. Similar to the Roman Church, altars often, and continue to be, placed against the wall in the apse.

The Eastern Churches that follow the Byzantine Tradition always had freestanding altars ideally facing east when the priest and people are unified facing the same direction for prayer. I'm unaware of a "liturgical east" in the Byzantine tradition - among other things, liturgical prayer has historically faced cardinal east.

TJM said...


A pope who issues Traditiones Crudelis (Custodes) is not a friend of the Liturgy. Moreover he has buddies like Cardinal Cupich in Chicago who forbids ad orientem in the Novus Ordo except for a select few parishes. Why does the pope not correct Cupich, tell him it is in the rubrics or even better yet mandate it in the Latin Rite? That’s why I see this as an exercise of raw power rather than any real concern for proper liturgy.

Carter said...

Father McDonald, you are correct that the original emphasis was on the Cardinal direction. So most churches were built with the altar on the east end and everyone faced east. The exceptions being those that had the altar on the west end, and so the priest would stand behind the altar to face east and thus simultaneously be facing the people. St. Borromeo in his instruction says churches can be built facing east, west and south but never north. However, "liturgical east" developed later as way of explaining an eastward direction even if the priest was facing any direction at an altar attached to the wall. One could say that with Benedict's idea of the crucifix as representing the "liturgical east", the concept has evolved even further. You are also correct that the altar arrangement in the pre-reform missal stays the same, but the priest doesn't turn from the altar bit rather addresses the various dialogue parts looking over the altar to the congregation.

I forgot to attach the link to the Vatican commentary on it being a grave abuse to think the priest is facing the people during the eucharistic prayer....

Carter said...

@TJM, it is rather easy to understand why Pope Francis does two things which on their surface appear contradictory.

2.a. We live in the Era of undoing some of the centralization thay occurred at the reformation and following the Council of Trent. The papacy following Vatican II has continually promoted this decentralization in many areas...such as translations and understanding the ordinary power of each Bishop. Francis' support of the Church in the original post follows from the fact that their episcopal conference has determined to imposes a legitimate option in their liturgical life. Rome has been much more supportive of this kind action by local bishops and conferences. Further, the Church in question is a "Sui iuris" Church which Rome often supports their decisions in these kind of matters, unless they propose something objectionable. So, his support for their decisions follows obviously from what has been said, but what about his suppression of the 1962 missal?

2.b. The pope posses two powers over the Roman Rite, namely ordinary and Supreme power. His ordinary power over the Roman Rite follows from his office as the bishop of Rome and thus has ordinary episcopal authority over the rite of his diocese. This ordinary authority of a bishop over the rite of his diocese has been active for 2000 years with the greatest restrictions on bishops coming after the council of trent. The only exception to the bishops ordinary power over his diocesan liturgy is the authority and power kf the supreme and universal legislator of the Church. Therefore the bishop of Rome is the only bishop authorized to alter the Roman liturgy except for the Supreme legislator of the Church. Who is the Supreme legislator of the Church, the Pope who happens to be Francis. So Pope Feancis has two levels of authority over the Roman Rite, that of the ordinary of a diocesan rite and the authority of the Supreme and universal legislator. Therefore, he can alter the Roman Rite to whatever degree he sees fit, with of course the integrity of doctrine. (see encyclical mediator dei 58.) However we know that the papacy cannot error in a harmful manner to souls in her proposal of doctrine on the universal level, even when not infallibly defined. (Ratzinger commentary on profession of faith and donum veritatis, and mediator dei) The Roman Pontiff has judged that the unlimited use of the 1962 missal has helped foster heretical opinions regarding Vatican II and the reformed Roman Missal, universally promulgated. Therfore he has suppressed the unlimited use of the former missal to a limited use again. However, such action was well within his lawful authority and from my experience (I served the 1962 missal regularly in a parish) in the TLM community as well as their presence online (Kwasniewski, Marshal, et al.) his decision was justified to try and stem the rising tide of heretical opinions in those communities. Many of these folks continue to rage against the papacy and its authority to do so, which only further demonstrates his correct judgment on the issue.

2.c. Why doesn't the Pope come down on the those who have heretical opinions on the liberal side of the Church? Well that can be answered in many ways, some positive and others not as positive, but such answers and even this question have no bearing on his restrictions placed on the 1962 missal. Because group A is reprimanded and group B isn't does not in any way deligitimize what was handed down to group A.

TJM said...


If a person has principles and decency, he applies the same standard to Group A and Group B. PF has neither principles and decency. That’s why people who are not idiots can see this and either are awaiting a pope with principle and decency or are walking away. If you want to make excuses for this unmitigated disaster, be my guest.