I’m thinking, again and not surprisingly, of what I shall call the “ad orientem question”. That is, the question of, “Should the priest face the people or the Tabernacle when celebrating Mass?” Both in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. In addition to the opinions I wrote over here, something else hit me. The Mass is not merely about God, with God in the third person. Rather, God is in the second person, being addressed specifically by the priest and congregation. Who in his right mind turns his back on someone to whom he is speaking?
Within Protestant circles, it makes sense for the minister to face his congregation. Why? Because God isn’t actually present in a physical sense, and most of the time He is spoken of, not to. The congregation could be considered the audience of the minister while he preaches.
What’s different about the Mass? The fact that God actually is there, most of the time in a Tabernacle at the front of the church, and He is being spoken to. Why not face Him, priest and congregation alike, who celebrate the Mass together in different ways?
That leads me into another point. The priest and congregation both offer the Eucharist to God. Notice that the priest says, “My sacrifice and yours”. Doesn’t it make sense that the priest and congregation, who are doing to the same thing to varying degrees, should have a unified orientation?
Think about it. The Mass is to God, not just about Him.