The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ad orientem

Prayer is the highest form of human activity. So why is it that modern man, so advanced in so many things, simply cannot pray correctly? Why does modern man feel that he must face himself when he prays to God?

I have been involved with traditional Catholics, traditional Anglicans, and all sorts of Eastern Churches, and the one thing they have in common is that the priest "has his back to the people"? If, however, this is so wrong and insulting, why did Christians for most of the history of Christianity feel that this was the way in which God must be worshiped? Why is it that the only Christians in the world who continue to pray in this way are considered extremists, traditionalists, or just closed-minded? Why is it that most modern Christians (Protestants and Western Catholics) want to turn around and face each other when they pray? Is facing liturgical East for prayer a doomed practice, a remnant of a more backward time?

I grew up having to face Fr. Bob during Mass, but I feel strongly about facing (liturgical) East for prayer. Am I just a weirdo, trying to return to an outdated tradition that is destined to die the death? Or is most of the Christian world wrong?


At 6:02 AM, Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

You're not weird; you are absolutely correct in my judgement. My feeling is that the priest leads the congregation and acts as that sacramental 'interface' between God and man, so he turns to them when talking to them ("The Lord be with you."), and back to the altar when talking to God - either for himself or for everyone. Everyone is praying, adoring, and worshipping the same God, so everyone should be facing the same way. It's an "aesthetic"/theological statement!

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Adam said...

No, I'm with you and Gordon on this. I grew up with a Lutheran and later Episcopalian service in which the altar was ad populum, and I never knew any different. Now I cannot deal with it. It's simply awful, IMHO. Yuk. Face GOD when you pray, not people. I could repeat all the arguments for it ad nauseum, but what's the point?


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