Ad Orientum

Source: Ad Orientem (used with permission from the pastor, Fr. VanDenBroeke)

“What is Ad Orientem? The phrase Ad Orientem, which means ‘Toward the East’, refers to the practice of the priest celebrating the Mass facing the liturgical East, which is represented by the crucifix behind the altar.

In Eastern Catholic churches and the Traditional Latin rite,  the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass/Divine Liturgy, is offered Ad Orientum with the priest the and the congregation all worshipping facing are the Tabernacle/Altar together.

Ad Orientem is the traditional way the Mass was celebrating for hundreds of years. After Vatican II, priests had the option of celebrating Mass Ad Orientem or Versus Populo (toward the people). I believe this ancient practice is very beneficial and helps draw both the priest and people deeper into the mystery of the sacrifice of Christ that we offer at every Mass.

“When the priest faces the people (Versus Populo), it is easy to assume the priest is always talking to the people. However, when the priest is facing the crucifix, it is clear that he is talking to God. This is the most important reason why Ad Orientem is an important way of celebrating the Mass, because it helps make clear that the priest is talking to the Father as he offers the prayers of the Eucharist.”

“Here is a simple picture that helps clarify this idea:

Articles that help to explain the significance of Ad Orientem:

Many Latin rite priests prefer and would like to offer Mass this way.

Either way, it is important to keep and honour Our Lord in the Tabernacle as the central focus. If He is in the centre already, do not move or hide Him away.  Jesus is the One who is our King.

Another Latin rite pastor who offers the Novus Ordo had this note on his website:

All Masses at this parish are said “Ad Orientem”.  Please watch the following video for more information on what “ad orientem” means!:

Other introductions to Ad Orientum: