With the radical change in the liturgical life of the Church resulting from moving the altar, there was a rupture in the tradition of the prayer of the people of God reaching back even beyond the founding of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger makes this point by referring to the work of the great liturgical historian, Louis Bouyer.
The synagogue, in its shrine of the
Torah, contains a kind of Ark of
the Covenant, which means it is the place
of a kind of “real presence”. . . And so
the Ark points beyond itself, to the one place of its presence
that God chose for himself – the Holy of Holies in the
Temple in Jerusalem. This Holy of
Holies, as Boyer puts it, remained the
“ultimate focus of the synagogal worship”.
“Thus have all the synagogues, at the
time of Our Lord and since that
time, been oriented”.
The rabbi and the people gaze at the “Ark of the
Covenant”, and in so doing, they orient
themselves toward Jerusalem, turn
themselves toward the Holy of Holies
in the Temple as the place of God’s
presence for his people
The article, a survey of Ratzinger's thoughts and writings on the Liturgy, is very readable and informative.