(Photo: Bowsk/Flickr)

This Christmas season, your priest might start celebrating Mass facing east

It’s been called the biggest proposed liturgical change since Pope Benedict XVI gave priests more freedom to celebrate the ancient Latin Mass.

The Vatican’s top liturgy chief is calling on priests to start facing east when saying Mass, instead of facing the congregation.

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“It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The cardinal has previously spoken about his desire to have priests face eastward, but this was the first time he mentioned a specific date, giving “a new urgency to his calls for this form of worship,” as Catholic Herald notes.

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In remarks later posted to Facebook, Cardinal Sarah suggested that Catholics should also return to kneeling when receiving communion.

As Crux notes, “his comments were phrased as suggestions rather than an edict,” meaning that it will likely be up to bishops or priests to decide which way the celebrant is facing this coming Advent.