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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Ad Orientem at St. Joseph Faces East - Even Though It Looks Like North!

From Father Z's mailbag:

Dear Father, I been trying to find and answer to a question about Ad Orientem worship facing west. Is it licit? Can churches hampered by modern architecture still worship Ad Orientem? Thanks in advance.

From the earliest days, and in keeping with the prayer practices of the Jews (cf. Ratzinger),  our forebears thought Christ would return in glory from the East.  Moreover, if I remember correctly, after her apparitions at Fatima, Our Lady disappeared into the East.
Celebrating “towards the East… ad orientem” is symbolic.  It doesn’t have to be the literal geographic East.  It is ideal to be able to face the literal geographic East, but we can create a liturgical East in any direction.  So long as you are all facing the same direction, you are symbolically facing the East.  Thus, we turn to the Lord who is coming.