The Catholic Church began to turn the altar around during the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962 to 1965. This change aimed to foster greater participation and engagement of the congregation in the celebration of the Mass.
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The altar orientation in the Catholic Church underwent a significant transformation during the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, which spanned from 1962 to 1965. This reform sought to ensure greater participation and engagement of the congregation in the celebration of the Mass. As a result, the decision was made to turn the altar around.
According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was one of the key documents issued by the Second Vatican Council, “The altar, fixed in a certain place, should be the center to which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns.” This emphasis on the altar as the focal point led to the practice of facing the congregation during the celebration of the Mass.
This change had a profound impact on the way the liturgy was experienced. By having the priest face the congregation, it allowed for a closer interaction between the clergy and the people, fostering a sense of community and unity during the worship service. It also facilitated the active participation of the congregation and enabled them to more fully engage in the prayers and rituals of the Mass.
Interesting facts about the turning of the altar in the Catholic Church include:
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the practice was for the priest to face the same direction as the congregation, typically towards the east, symbolizing the rising sun and the anticipation of Christ’s second coming.
The decision to turn the altar around sparked some controversy and debate among traditionalists who preferred the previous orientation. However, the change was implemented in the majority of Catholic churches around the world.
While the altar was turned around, the structural significance of the east remained important. In many churches, the altar is still positioned in such a way that the priest faces liturgical east, known as “ad orientem,” while also facing the congregation.
The revised liturgy also introduced the use of vernacular languages instead of Latin in the Mass, making it more accessible to the faithful. This further contributed to a greater sense of participation and engagement.
In summary, the Catholic Church turned the altar around during the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council with the aim of fostering greater participation and engagement of the congregation. This change marked a significant shift in the way the Mass was celebrated and allowed for a closer interaction between the clergy and the people. As stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the altar became the center to which the attention of the whole congregation naturally turned, emphasizing the importance of active participation in the liturgy.
A widely known resource on this topic, Catholic News Agency, states: “In turning the altar around, the priest, symbolizing Christ, now faces the people, and the focus is on the liturgical action taking place rather than on the physical elements of the altar.” This articulation underscores the intention of the change and its impact on the worship experience for Catholics worldwide.
|Before the Reform||After the Reform|
|Priest faced the same direction as the congregation||Priest faced the congregation|
|Altar symbolized the anticipation of Christ’s second coming||Altar became the center of attention|
|Latin was the predominant language in the Mass||Vernacular languages were introduced|
|Greater emphasis on the rituals and prayers of the Mass||Fostering active participation and engagement|
|Focus on the sacredness and mystery of the Mass||Encouraging community and unity in worship|
Please note that the information provided is based on historical records and the guidance issued by the Second Vatican Council.
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After years in which priests celebrated Mass with their backs turned to worshipers, altars were repositioned after the Second Vatican Council (1963-65) so that the priest could face the people.
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Beside above, Why did priests start facing the congregation?
Answer will be: It has been said that the reason the Pope always faced the people when celebrating Mass in St Peter’s was that early Christians faced eastward when praying and, due to the difficult terrain, the basilica was built with its apse to the west.
Also asked, When did they change the Catholic Mass? As a response to this: The following description of the celebration of Mass, usually in the local vernacular language, is limited to the form of the Roman Rite promulgated at the request of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and revised by Pope John Paul II in 2002, largely replacing the usage of the Tridentine Mass
How did the altar change after Vatican II? Response to this: The changes from Vatican II
Among the noteworthy ones were those that changed the way the church worshipped. The altar, for example, was turned around to face the people. Mass was changed to be in the vernacular, no longer in Latin. And women no longer had to cover their hair in church.
When did Mass change from Latin to English?
The English version is from the 1970s. The Second Vatican Council (1962–65) allowed the Latin Mass to be replaced with services in vernacular (commonly used) languages.