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Facing East During Mass


It is not only in Eastern Rites that the priest is supposed to face east (that is, facing the Lord) while praying the Mass, but even in the Latin Rite. Peter Kwasniewski, writing on the direction the priest should face while celebrating the Mass in the Latin Rite, uses the main and primary source regarding this question: the rubrics of the Mass itself. In the Missal, priests are given instructions on what to do while celebrating the Mass; Kwasniewski analyzes the instructions in the Latin Rite Mass and concludes that the priest is instructed by the Missal itself to face east , and only during specific moments in the Mass is he to face the people (i.e. when he lifts the paten and chalice and announces: “Behold the Lamb of God…”). He says in his opening line, “Today, most people who take a serious interest in liturgy know that celebrating Mass ‘facing the people’ or versus populum was never mentioned even once in the documents of Vatican II” (emphases mine). This is a strong, concise and relevant article for all to read.