04 February 2006

Why Conversi ad Dominum

Here's one of several reasons:

What in the early Church and during the Middle Ages determined the position of the altar was that it faced East. To quote St Augustine: "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other direction on earth..., but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God." This quotation shows that the Christians of those early days, after listening to the homily, would rise for the prayer which followed, and turn towards the East. St Augustine always refers to this turning to the East in prayer at the end of his homilies, using a set formula: Conversi ad Dominum ("turn to face the Lord").
In "The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background" (p. 80) by Msgr Klaus Gamber (Una Voce Press, 1993).


William Weedon said...

Yes, and as His Holiness brilliantly points out in his work *The Spirit of the Liturgy*:

the priest in facing east to pray is NOT turning his back on the people, merely facing the same direction as they: toward the coming Lord!

fr john w fenton said...

Fr William,

Methinks the Msgr had some influence on His Holiness--or, at least, they read the same sources.

Curiously, the Msgr was chaplain and then secret chamberlain to Paul VI; and then one of the greatest critics of his Novus Ordo.