EVERAL YEARS AGO, someone did the world a beautiful favor by creating a Facebook “fan” page for Msgr. Guido Marini, who entered the national spotlight when he became Papal M.C. during the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Msgr. Marini is one of the “cooler heads” carefully evaluating the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms and observing that some went beyond what the Council fathers wanted.
Those who follow his FB page were recently shown pictures of Pope Francis offering Mass according to the traditional arrangment: ad orientem (a.k.a. “versus apsidem”). In the past, we’ve spoken about ad orientem many times, for example, here, here, here, and here. (By the way, I very much doubt that Msgr. Marini personally maintains this “fan” page, although he’s probably aware of its existence.)
Pope Francis celebrating in this manner was a bit of a surprise, since members of his generation aren’t usually accustomed to ad orientem. On the other hand, it’s possible that Cardinal Bergoglio was serving on the Congregation for Divine Worship when it issued a famous ruling (25 September 2000) saying Mass should not be offered versus populum (“facing the people”) if a High Altar be present. [Can anyone confirm the dates Cardinal Bergoglio served on that Committee?] I would suggest that, while his ad orientem celebration is encouraging, it does not merit the frenzy observed in certain circles.
Finally, I would like to point out that the correct spelling is ad orientem — not “ad orientam.” This can be a deadly trap, since we have words in English like “orientation” and “orientate.”