The Priestly Character of Ad Orientem Worship – Zachary Thomas

The altars were turned around in the first place so that the people could participate more fully in the action of the Mass, so that liturgy would not be only a clerical affair. Paradoxically, however, the understanding of the Mass’s action as it is conveyed in the new ritual prevents such participation in that action by eliminating consciousness of it. That is because the static versus populum posture implicitly denies the priest’s mediating role, and so obscures the Mass’s nature as an efficacious action. If the Mass is physically acted out as if it were only the “proclamation of the Word,” or “a communal meal” in which a past action is celebrated, and not the active, efficacious, dramatic re-performance of the act, its priestly character breaks down. The Mass is then reduced to a clerically imposed tyranny.

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