The Diocese of Trenton Celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass

General Questions on the Extraordinary Form
The Solemn High Mass
The Solemn High Pontifical Mass
Priest Facing the Altar (Ad Orientem)
Sacred Silence and Active Participation
The Asperges Me (Sprinkling Rite)
Holy Communion
Isn't facing the people preferred by the Church?

It may seem that way since saying Mass versus populum (turned to the people) is now almost universally practiced in the Roman Rite. However, the only document that seems to imply that this is preferred is paragraph 299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) which reads, "The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible." However, as clarified by the Congregation for Divine Worship, this is a misleading translation. When one looks at the Latin the clause "which is desirable," it refers back to the first part of the sentence (that the altar should be built away from the wall) and not the second part (that Mass can be celebrated facing the people.) No where in the GIRM does it suggest we should destroy existing architecture for the sake of liturgy but it only suggesting how new altars should be built. Also, the phrase "wherever possible" means that we should take into account the beauty, architecture and topography of the church. In other words, one should not force a free standing altar where it does not fit. Just because the Church allows something, does not mean one has an obligation to do it. Other than this one paragraph, there are no documents from the Vatican ordering facing the people throughout the entire Mass. Later, it was asked whether or not it is permitted to have Mass facing the people and the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1965 did respond yes. But, by that time, it was becoming a wide-spread practice already.