Facing the Altar

This Q&A was sent to a Sister Jurisdiction, but thought it merited being displayed here.

I was present at a Mass you did for the funeral of a friend.  I am Catholic and was surprised to see you with your back to the people. Why would you do that?  It would seem better to face the people.

Ans: Would a General leading his troop into battle face the troops?  When approaching a ruler, would you face the people or the Ruler? The Priest and the people together form the Church Militant and the Priest is leading the ‘troops’ as it were.  Those in Heaven are the Church Triumphant and the souls in the process of being made perfect are the Church Suffering.

I know many Catholic leaders insist that in facing the people they are returning to the practice of the early church but that is a bold faced lie and they know it.  If you have to resort to a lie to make things seem right then there is something radically wrong.

The church has always faced the East, when possible, for the Mass. Some buildings won’t allow for that but that is the ideal and the goal.

The Priest stands with the people in worshiping God facing East.

The Priest is not the Presider of a meeting or over a group of people that he should face the people.  It was necessary to start calling the Priest the Presider because he was facing the people and the Liturgy became the man centered instead of God centered.

The definition of the Mass had to be changed from a “Divine Sacrifice” to a “community meal” to allow for a “Presider”.

The presence of Christ in the Tabernacle was replaced with the presence of Christ in the people gathered together. This changing theology meant the Tabernacle had to be hidden off in another room or at the side of the Altar. Now it was the people that are the all in all and not the Eucharist in the Tabernacle.

In Holy Rosary Cathedral in Toledo you have to hunt up the Tabernacle hidden away in a different room far from the main Altar of Sacrifice. Speaking of the main Altar of Sacrifice, the Altar may still be there against the wall but they don’t use it other than to hold a few flower pots.

The main Altar of Sacrifice is gone totally in many churches and in all parishes has been replaced with a “table” or sometimes called the altar table.

The Priest faces the people and together they have a “communal meal”.   If you want a happy meal go to McDonald’s.

The modern Liturgy is God centered, not man centered.  For some the Mass has become a happy meal but it is actually the continuation of the Sacrifice at Calvary in an unbloody manner.   It is not a new Sacrifice and it is not a repeating of the Sacrifice of Calvary; it is a continuation of the one Sacrifice offered once for all.

The Priest acts in the person of Christ at the Altar (in persona Christi).  The Priest offers the Sacrifice and the people join in the offering made by the Priest.

For this reason the Priest at one point turns to the people and prays “May my Sacrifice and yours be acceptable……..” (Orate Fratres)

The Priest is the offerant and the people join in that offering.

The Priest is NOT a “Presider”, he is the “Offerant of the Liturgy”.