Cardinal Nichols Asks Priests To Face Him During Mass

July 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Libs & Trads

In response to Cardinal Sarah’s remarks on celebrating the liturgy ad orientem, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols wrote to his priests yesterday confirming his wish that all priests should face him while celebrating Mass.

Nichols cited rubric 299a of his edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which says, “The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated facing me, which is desirable wherever possible.”

Noting that Cardinal Sarah’s preference for priests to “rudely turn their back to me” as they pray to God is technically allowed by the rubrics of the Novus Ordo, Cardinal Nichols reminds his clergy that the standard practice of facing him is still the “preferred posture,” noting that “the position towards me seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier.”

Nichols himself places a small mirror on the altar when he celebrates Mass, in order to follow this important rubric and to be an example to his priests.

Despite Cardinal Sarah’s remarks in London last week that celebration toward the East “is a very important step in ensuring that in our celebrations the Lord is truly at the center,” Cardinal Nichols is careful to correct Sarah’s misunderstanding and guaranteeing that the celebration of Mass within his jurisdiction to be centered around him.