Like many of the churches and chapels where I say Mass these days, a free-standing altar is set up in front of a tabernacle set centrally in the sanctuary. Thus, in order to offer the Mass versus populum, the priest must place himself in between the altar and the tabernacle. All of a sudden, even though I have offered Mass this way hundreds of times, from the Mass of my priestly ordination on Our Lady's birthday in 2007 down to today, I felt uncomfortable to find myself with my back to the Blessed Sacrament.When the Mass is celebrated ad orientem, that is, to the East (even if only liturgically speaking), the priest and the people all face the same direction. It is a profound sign of unity. Some, though, do not like this and are offended that the priest would "turn his back to the people," as they incorrectly say.
A Minor Friar asks:
But isn't it more troubling for the priest to turn his back on the Presence of Christ in the tabernacle?