Ad Orientem – Facing together toward the Lord

Fr. John Jirak, pastor of the Church of the Magdalen, 12626 E. 21st St. N, Wichita, KS 67206:

Although the priest does not face geographical East when celebrating Mass ad orientem here at Blessed Sacrament, the priest and people worshipping together in the same direction still captures the intended symbolism of Christ’s second coming. It also assists us in elevating our hearts and minds to the One to whom we are offering the sacrifice, recalling the transcendence of God.

The Latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi (the idea that the way we worship forms our belief) conveys the importance of properly expressed worship. First, when we offer the Mass, we are making present Christ’s own sacrifice, which He made to the Father on our behalf. Thus, the priest stands in place of Christ (in Persona Christi) as he offers the Mass to the Father.

The priest does not offer the Mass to the people, nor the people to the priest; rather, both priest and people together offer the sacrifice of Christ to the Father. When the priest and congregation physically orient themselves in the same direction, the reality of what is happening is more clearly expressed: the priest and congregation are not in dialogue but are together offering their prayers and Christ’s sacrifice to God the Father.

Read Fr Jirak’s full article here.