Skip to main content


Where Altar Crucifixes Should Face

5/3/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

Advertisment

And More on the Easter Vigil

ROME, MAY 3, 2006 (Zenit) - Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: When an altar crucifix is used during the celebration of Mass, ought the corpus to be facing toward the priest or toward the congregation? -- D.V., Washington, D.C.

A: The indications in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal are sparse regarding the direction of the figure of Christ on the cross:

"No 308. There is also to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, either on the altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation. It is appropriate that such a cross, which calls to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord, remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations."

Taking our cue from Monsignor Peter Elliott's liturgy manual, we might add that the crucifix should be located on, next to, immediately behind or suspended above the altar. It should be visibly related to the altar as viewed by the people.

As Monsignor Elliott comments: "The liturgical crucifix is not primarily for the private devotion of the celebrant but is a sign in the midst of the Eucharistic assembly proclaiming that the Mass is the same Sacrifice as Calvary."

Thus, strictly speaking, the altar crucifix is in relationship to the altar, and not just to the priest, and for this reason the "corpus" is usually turned toward the altar.

An altar crucifix can be somewhat off-putting for the faithful who can see only the reverse of the cross. This is a relatively new problem as, before the liturgical reform, the whole assembly, priest and people, faced both altar and crucifix in the same direction.

For this reason the best solution appears to be either the large crucifix permanently behind or above the altar.

If this is not possible, then the very flexibility of the norms would allow for a processional cross, or a larger but movable crucifix on a stand, which is placed near the altar in such a position that clearly relates to the altar while remaining visible to the faithful.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Crucifixes, McNamara, Liturgy, Mass

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
[Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains my hands for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go away,' they said. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 30 Saint of the Day

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... Read More