[Rev. Porter C. Taylor] A Few Thoughts on Eucharistic Orientation

You can easily begin a deep theological and liturgical debate across ecumenical lines with one simple question: how should the Celebrant be oriented in the Eucharist? Maybe it’s based on the fact that I am an Anglican, but this simple question has churned up many strong feelings and convictions.

My main goal, here, is to provide some fodder for thinking about our Eucharistic orientation. Perhaps we (those who are the inheritors of the Reformation(s)) have gotten it wrong”¦

For the children of the Reformation(s) the answer is clear: the priest (if you have one) should face the people. This is known as versus populum and it supposedly encourages or facilitates corporate worship around a common table. The logic continues that only when gathered around a common table can any sense of “clericalism” or medieval superstition be avoided.

The other tradition is known as ad orientem. In this celebration of the Eucharist the priest faces the altar, i.e. East, and has back turned to the people. I want to unpack the thinking behind this in a bit…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

2 comments on “[Rev. Porter C. Taylor] A Few Thoughts on Eucharistic Orientation

  1. Chuck Lockhart says:

    I can sympathise with this point of view. In rural Newfoundland we have many small churches where it is difficult to move the altar out. I feel comfortable celebrating back on to the congregation for the very reason Rev. Taylor lists. I am particularly uncomfortable with the congregation saying the Creed while facing me. I want to move to the front of the altar at that time. I have occasionally stopped in front of the altar on the way back after the sermon to say the Creed.

  2. David Keller says:

    Is this is a huge theological question? The world is going to hell in a handbasket and is in desperate need of hearing the Easter gospel message. It is in desperate need of meeting the living Christ. Therefore, for me, of the top 1000 theological questions, this one is 1001.