As in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Sunday’s Mass of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel ad orientem.
The term means that during much of the Mass, the Pope faced toward the altar instead of towards the assembly.
We couldn’t find a video of this year’s Mass posted on the Internet, so we’ve embedded this video excerpt from the 2008 Mass instead in order to feature the ad orientem papal liturgy.
Msgr. Guido Marini, master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, said before Christmas that the Pope’s Jan. 11 celebration of Mass would underline “the correct orientation of the Eucharistic celebration,” the New Liturgical Movement website reported.
Said Msgr. Marini, “This is not about turning the back to the people, but about assuming the same orientation as the assembly, which precisely looks toward the Crucified.”
Update: Liturgically oriented readers have contacted the Daily Blog to point out that as originally written this post incorrectly described Pope’s Benedict XVI’s actual orientation when he celebrated the Jan. 11 Mass in the Sistine Chapel.
Actually, the celebrant faces west during such Masses at the Sistine Chapel, not east, and we’ve corrected this entry accordingly. Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia discusses the matter in more detail in this Jan. 11 post about the Holy Father’s Baptism of the Lord Mass.
— Tom McFeely