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Question Title Posted By Question Date
Consecration Ryan Sunday, January 15, 2012


Is it permissible for a priest to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word in its entirety facing the congregation, but then to perform the Liturgy of the Eucharist facing the crucifix, i.e., with his back to the congregation?

I ask because I am curious, since I am in discernment, if and when I may be ordained if I will be able to do this. I personally think there's a very mysterious beauty involved in offering up the Eucharist during the consecration facing the crucifix. I believe it represents a kind of special intimacy with Christ and an extra emphasis on the intensely sacred nature of this part of the Mass, as well as the focus being on the entire congregation with the minister facing the crucified Christ who gave Himself up as a sacrifice, and continues to manifest Himself and His sacrifice in the Eucharist. Thus, in my opinion, it is a profound spiritual statement. But, my opinion must be utterly subordinate to the GIRM and what the Church allows Her priests to do during the Mass.

This is not to say I am stating that it is in any way less reverent at all to celebrate the entire Mass facing the congregation, but this is just my feeling on the matter. Is this allowed by the Church?

Question Answered by Mr. Jacob Slavek

Dear Ryan,


I agree with all your comments about Mass celebrated "Ad Orientem".

Mass celebrated ad orientem is not in conflict with our current GIRM, however it's not as simple as that.  You would also need to make sure that you're in line with your bishop's wishes.  Depending on the diocese and bishop, you might even want to ask him directly. I don't believe you'll actually need his explicit permission, however if he does ask you to stop then you would need to obey.  Once your sure there are no problems with the bishop, then you yourself will have to make a pastoral decision whether or not ad orientem is right for your particular parish.  Let's face it, some "modern" parishes just won't be able to make such a radical change and it could do more harm than good.

However I really think people are looking for greater reverence than they were in recent decades and I know that once you become a pastor you'll be able to tell just fine.  :-)

Hope this helps,

Mr. Slavek

Footer Notes: (a) A Eucharistic Minister is clergy (Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion). Laity are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and should never be called Eucharistic Ministers.

(b) There is no such Mass called the Novus Ordo. The Current Mass is the Roman Missal of 2000, or the Oridinary Form of the Mass. The Tridentine Mass is the Roman Missal of 1962, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Please refrain from using the term, Novus Ordo. Thanks.

(c) The titles of Acolyte and Lector belong exclusively to the Installed Offices of Acolyte and Lector, who are men (only) appointed by the Bishop. These roles performed by others are Altar Servers and Readers, respectively.