Ad orientem, or facing away from the people. When I first read facing East, I actually thought, “I already face East”… took a second for this image to appear in my mind
Stunned and then figured I was dreaming. I figured I would just have my people turn around and we would all be covered. I already have a Mass in the extraordinary form, I didn’t need that for everyone else too!
But as seems par for the course with this Pope, the ship was quickly righted and normalcy restored.
But It got me thinking. Instantly, I had a bad reaction to that statement. I heard the remarks just after preaching about the universal Church. I think a huge issue for the Western Church especially in the US, is that we forget that we are just one part of the Church of over a billion members. We have less than 75,000,000 Catholics in this country, a fraction of the whole. Our force is great in the world, but in a Church of Mercy and universality, we have to remember it isn’t just us, we are catholic. Our very title means universal, we can’t lose sight of the richness of that gift.
I like how the Pope is reaching out to the smaller countries and naming Cardinals where there have never been Cardinals before. But when we look to facing East, that is a cultural things for us. We have in only about 40 years yet to totally embraced the dialogue of the Eucharist. It isn’t what the priest does for the people, it is what we do together as one people on a journey together.
I always have thought that when there were multiple priests that we were co-confecting. The assembled faithful are the true concelebrants or those that celebrate with. That is a topic for another blog.