IMPORTANT: Pope to celebrate versus Deum this Sunday
"Tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass (according to the Missal of Paul VI) facing the Altar of the Sistine Chapel, versus Deum*, according to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, headed by Monsignor Guido Marini (Apcom reports):
"This year, the wooden platform on which an altar was placed for the occasion will not be set up, but the actual altar of the Sistine Chapel will be used.
"A decision was made to celebrate on the ancient altar to avoid altering he beauty and harmony of this architectural jewel - the Vatican note explains - preserving its structure, in a celebratory viewpoint, and making use of a possibility foreseen by liturgical legislation. This means that, at some moments, the Pope will be with his back turned to the faithful and facing the Cross, thus guiding the demeanor and the disposition of the entire assembly"
*We avoid the use of the expression "Ad Orientem" here due to some problems which have occurred in at least one place in which the local Bishop has been forcing the celebration of the Traditional Mass "versus populum" because the Altar is located on the western wall of the church building (more regarding this absurd situation in a future post); the celebration literally ad orientem and, at the same time and incidentally, versus populum was always limited to only a few special main altars in a handful of churches, mostly in the city of Rome itself, due to very specific historical reasons.
The Altar of the Sistine Chapel itself is also on the western wall of that building, which means that the Pope will be celebrating literally "ad occidentem" - but actually facing the Lord, with the entire congregation."