Rorate Caeli

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.


  1. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Perhaps one should say "liturgical east" rather than ad orientem if that is problematic because of church orientation.

  2. Anonymous5:40 PM


  3. Anonymous5:50 PM


    May our Holy Father live at least as long as Leo XIII (93), plus ten!

  4. This is so great. I must say, since the Mass for the Baptism of the Lord is always in the Sistine Chapel, and this is the first time under Guido Marini, I had silently hoped for it, but to see it will actualyy happen means so much. Can't wait for tomorrow!

    Regarding the terminology, here in Germany to speak of "versus Deum" is quite common, more common than "ad orientem" I'd say.

  5. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Just goes to show that this "facing East" lark is a lot of nonsense really since hardly any churches were ever really orientated that way. If it was such an important part of church tradition, why was it virtually never observed by church builders and architects, not to mention, church furnishers, who almost always set up altars willy-nilly at any angle?

  6. Is it possible that you could publish a good picture of this that we may download it and give them to the poor, for use in their homes? By poor I mean people that live in cardboard and tin shacks with plastic windows.
    This would be greatly appreciated.
    God bless you.

  7. Anonymous6:29 PM

    I love that this is going to be associated with the baptisms - communicating that this is not about nostalgia. It is simply about the faith that is being passed down.

  8. Anonymous6:47 PM

    What glorious news! The Pope is obviously acting diplomatically, to ease tensions with liberal-leaning persons. Let's hope His Holiness will celebrate the Tridentine Mass very soon as well (Easter time would be fantastic), and then more often from that point on. As others have said, I also think the Traditional liturgy is the main path for any true Counter-Modernisation

  9. Anonymous6:57 PM

    This is of major importance, since it was in the Sistine Chapel that Paul VI first said the Novus Ordo versus populum, as a model for the whole Church. Benedict overthrows that model, and reinstates tradition. Thank you, New Catholic, for bringing us this most gladsome news.

  10. Anonymous7:31 PM

    What a moment for the liturgy and the Church! Another brick in the wall of the Benedictine reform...

  11. WOW! Let's pray this is evidence of a permanent trend.


  12. Anonymous7:37 PM

    I think Piero Marini is having "hissy fits" in his Rome apartments right now over this news.
    All his work, and of his mentor the infamous Archbishop Bugnini crashing down around his ears!!

    Boo Hoo Hoo !!! :)

  13. Anonymous7:38 PM

    This Mass will be covered live on EWTN:

  14. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Magnificent! Long live Pope Benedict XVI!!!!

  15. Pablo, Quite right the poor will rejoice. I rejoice!

  16. Anonymous9:48 PM

    This is probably of greater significance than if the pope had simply said a TLM. He is setting a positive precedent for the celebration of the NO.

  17. Anonymous10:04 PM

    "it was in the Sistine Chapel that Paul VI first said the Novus Ordo versus populum, as a model for the whole Church. Benedict overthrows that model, and reinstates tradition..."

    EXACTLY. It only portends glorious things to come!

  18. Anonymous11:02 PM

    I wouldn't rush ahead too fast with our hopes....but there is one thing very significant. The part of the message from the Liturgical Office which states basically that the Pope is usuing the original altar " not to ruin the setting of this gem..(meaning the Sistine Chapel), is of emense significance. Because it basically states that its worng to throw up a makeshift Protestant style table altar "versus populum" in from of the magnificent altar of the Sistine. And this could apply to all the thousands of cases where trashy little Protestant type altar tables have been set up in front of magnificent high altars in hundreds of European, Latin American, and USA cathedrals !!!! I think it's a not too sublte hint that soon we will be throwing out the table altars, and using the original altars again.....either for the Novus Ordo, or the Tridentine Latin Mass.

  19. I would say that this action is very significant. Just as the Pontifical Masses of the bishop serve as an inspiration for all Masses in a diocese, the Pontifical Masses of the Pope as Roman Patriarch serve as an inspiration for all Masses in the Latin Rite. I cannot help but see this action by the Pope as a way to teach the intrinsic "ad Deum" nature of the Sacred Liturgy by example.

  20. Anonymous2:36 AM

    I would call it a pattern. The Holy Father is calling the Novus Ordo community back to reverence for the Mass in many ways, even in encouraging the TLM. The issue is, where is he on the line between liberal and traditional with regard to these things? Certainly not as liberal as his predecessor, but also not as conservative as TLM advocates (like me). A right-leaning moderate, he may well be comfortable just reducing irreverence during his pontificate, without having any intention of restoring tradition as his goal. That is what I suspect, and I think that attempt at moderation will ultimately fail, as he is up against firmly entrenched and very patient liberals.

  21. Anonymous6:20 AM

    We're all forgetting that Peter receives graces that the rest of us don't. He may indeed be strictly a right leaning "moderate". He clearly does relish the TLM, and he wants to assert Vatican 2 in the light of continuity with Tradition. I do believe he wants to "reform" the NO to be as close as possible to the TLM. In doing any of the above he is knowingly or unwittingly bring the Church back home to Apostolic Tradition. Its alright to get excited over these positive signs, but like Moses had to keep his arms up until the victory was complete, our prayers for Peter must not wane. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  22. From the letter to Bishops
    regarding the Apostolic Letter SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM


    It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were "two Rites". Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

    CQFD - Providence never fails. Thank you Benedict XVI, we will continue to pray for Your Holiness daily.


  23. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Pablo, yes I agree that the faithful poor in their cardboard shacks will also appreciate the beauty of this Mass and of the Sistine Chapel. I have seen, in Mexico, what some might call hovels and yet properly clothed children come out for school and the dirt yard is swept and tidy and the family goes to Holy Mass; yes, I agree they will appreciate the beauty. Just because they are poor does not mean all will be angry to see beauty in other places.

    And the Holy Father is, step by step, restoring what was lost.

    My round church with our peace and justice gathering of the assembly to celebrate ourselves will not soon see such a sight. But we do have a protestant coming to give a 'mission and retreat' and maybe he will give insight????

    So my heart gladdens to see this beauty and reverence elsewhere as I must endure the modernist approach.

  24. Anonymous6:18 PM

    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. AMEN

  25. Anonymous9:58 PM

    Sorry, GD, I'd like to qualify your contention: Paul VI first celebrated versus populum at Ognissanti parish (on Via Appia Nuova) on 7 March 1965, i.e. on the very first day when Inter Oecumenici, the first post V. II set of reforms, came into force. Now, whether the "1965 Mass" is already the/a novus ordo is a matter for (another) debate but I'd like to stress that that 07.03.65 celebration by Paul VI was clearly performed in a (pre-)NOM spirit: versus populum outside the communion rail, in Italian etc.
    I don't know about the service in the Sistine Chapel that you refer to (when was it exactly)? You may be referring to a 1969 or 1970 celebration, I guess, i.e. a NOM service stricto sensu.

  26. Anonymous12:56 AM

    Great news. I hope ewtn follows suit-I would love to watch the mass ad orientem on ewtn.

  27. Anonymous3:41 AM

    Are we dealing with sweet but unlearned children here? After 40 years of disaster we need to send messages to them telling them to celebrate their mass more reverently and make their theology more Catholic?

    This is Satan's work. Facing east or moving the dinner table aside or even changing rubrics isn't enough. Sooner or later we will have to crush it's head. The snake's name is modernism and it's head is the Novus Ordo mass.

    Where have you gone, Pope Saint Pius X? Heaven knows we need you back.

  28. Anonymous1:13 PM

    it's interesting that ignorant comments are delivered in the French media both Le Figaro and Le Monde. Journalists are linking versus Deum celebration with "pre-Vatican II" Mass : but as we know the Pauline missal never excluded versus Deum celebration.
    Nobody is underlining that Pope Benedict XVI is simply doing what he was writing as ... Joseph Ratzinger during decades.
    In fact the main question is : why has the pope been waiting so long ? It is raising the same interrogation as why the pope decided to hesitate, ponder, delay so long the Motu proprio.
    I recall too that the famous Vatican rumor-mill was spreading "news" the pope was ready to celebrate TLM before Christmas 2007... and we are mid January.
    Can we deduce this Sistine versus Deum ordinary form Mass is a substitute for an Extraordinary Form ?
    It could also fit in with the snail pace the pope has adopted since his election. That would place a possible papal TLM in ... Christmas 2009 or 2012 if not 2020 ?
    The echo given by the media for a simple Ordinary Form correctly celebrated is nevertheless a hint of the earthquake that would cause a pontifical celebration (in a way or the other) in the Extraordinary Form.

  29. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I think "cum populum" might be a better description than "versus Deum," which strikes my ear as being a bit too polemical. I mean, the Mass is intrinsically and universally "toward God."

    I think the genius of the TLM is that the priest acts as the representative of the people in offering sacrifice. There is much more mystical dynamism in the priest facing the same direction as the people.

  30. Anonymous3:19 AM

    I'm a traditionalist who always attends the Tridentine Mass instead of the Novus Ordo Missae. That's one reason I'm tired of the phrase "to celebrate Mass," which reminds me of a party. What would you think of a crowd that rode a time machine back to the first Good Friday, ate cake and ice cream, and blew noise makers all at the foot of the cross on which Our Lord was dying. Nobody celebrated when Christ died. The Mass is the same sacrifice that He offered on the cross. It's not a party.

  31. "Celebrating" means performing, when used for religious ceremonies - not rejoicing.

    No wonder it is constantly used in the rubrics of the Mass, including in the very first rubric of the Rubricae Generales Missalis Romani (Codex Rubricarum 1960, 269: Sacrosanctum Missæ Sacrificium, iuxta canones et rubricas celebratum, est actus cultus publici, nomine Christi et Ecclesiæ Deo redditi.)


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