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
Why does the priest have his back to the people during the Traditional Latin Mass?

The direction that the priest faces is one of the most notable visual differences in the older form of the Mass. As the priest is offering Mass, he faces toward God. This act gives to some the impression that he is facing away from the people. Such people feel they are being excluded from the Mass. This notion could not be further from the truth. The laity by their presence and attention at Mass are joined with the priest in the common prayer of the Mass. There are times in the Mass where the priest does face and address the people. During these times, he is assuring them of the Lord's presence, encouraging prayer, instructing them in the homily and blessing them. Even outside these times, everything the priest does is for the sake of those worshiping with him and the salvation of the world. It must be remembered that the principle action of the liturgy is to God and not the community. Because the prayers of the Mass address God, it is natural to look toward Him.