A few days ago, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, offered an Advent-inspired
reflection on the biblical tradition of looking to the East for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fittingly enough, he mentions the liturgical tradition of prayer directed toward the East, whether geographical or symbolic, and reminds us of the purpose of that practice: it is to foster an other-worldly, God-centered focus which should characterize our participation at Mass, regardless of whether the priest speaks ad orientem or versus populum:
Whether celebrated with priest and people facing each other or with priest and people together facing the same direction, every Eucharist is Christ coming to meet us, gracing us with a share in his own divine life. Every Eucharist is a proleptic sharing in the feast of heaven. Therefore, in every celebration of the Eucharist, both priest and faithful should focus their attention not on each other, but on the Lord.