OT LONG AGO, a Collegeville Liturgical Press blog claimed that special exegesis is required to understand what the current Missal means when it says “turn and face the people” and subsequently “turn and face the Altar.” Moreover, that same blog wrongly claimed that “ad populum conversus” never occurs in the current Missal—an error resulting from a misunderstanding of Latin word order. It was necessary to prove them wrong with screen shots from the current Missale Romanum.
On this blog, we’ve frequently discussed a peculiar reality. The Novus Ordo Missal assumes ad orientem celebration, never mentioning ad populum. However, the Traditional Mass had special rubrics for “Mass facing the people,” although few priests celebrated that way.
I asked readers to send in screen shots of old Missals showing the “versus populum” rubrics. Someone from Indonesia has kindly sent in the following pictures of the 1572 Missale Romanum:
Si Altare sit ad Orientem, versus populum, Celebrans versa facie ad populum, non vertit humeros ad Altare, cum dicturus est Dominus vobiscum, Orate, fratres, Ite, Missa est, vel daturus benedictionem; sed, osculato Altari in medio, ibi expansis et junctis manibus, ut supra, salutat populum, et dat benedictionem.
If the Altar faces the people, the Celebrant does not turn his back to the Altar when saying Dominus vobiscum, Orate, fratres, Ite, missa est, or when giving the blessing, but having kissed the Altar in the middle, there extending and joining his hands, as above, facing the people, greets them and gives the blessing.
Si Celebrans in Altari vertit faciem ad populum, non vertit se, sed stans ut erat, benedicit populo, ut supra, in medio Altaris; deinde accedit ad cornu Evangelii, et dicit Evangelium S. Joannis.
If the Celebrant is at an Altar facing the people, he does not turn around, but standing as he was, blesses the people, as above, at the middle of the Altar. Then he goes to the Gospel side, and reads the Gospel of St. John.