Rorate Caeli

Papal Liturgies and the Missing Crucifix

Piece by piece, Benedict XVI's "reform" has been dismantled. At least for a long time the crucifix on the altar seemed to resist, but from today's images (Palm Sunday) it appears to be "disappeared." Effectively it was also absent at Ash Wednesday. The last sighting seems to date back to January 22 in the basilica.

(P.S. It is true that according to the rubrics it is enough to be there at the side... but you don't want to be rubricists, do you?)

"Among the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades I count the fact that the cross is placed on one side to leave the priest's gaze free. But does the cross, during the Eucharist, represent a disturbance? Is the priest more important than the Lord?" (Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to The Spirit of the Liturgy)

April 2, 2023

Rorate comment:

The Vatican website, which never seems to lose anything (if you search hard enough for it), contains an interview with former papal MC Guido Marini, from 2011, in which we find the following question and answer:

Q: The officiator’s being turned to the crucifix and turning his back on the congregation, the faithful’ s taking the communion on their tongue and on their knees, the moments of silence are all liturgical changes introduced by Benedict XVI which many people see as a return to the past, without understanding their historical or theological meaning. Could you please illustrate the meaning of these changes in a few words?

A: Actually, our office receives declarations from many people who receive the above changes with favour and see them in line with an authentic renewal of the liturgy. As for the meaning of some of these changes, the following remarks could be made. The priest’s being turned to the cross is meant to emphasize the correct direction of liturgical prayer, which is addressed to the Lord; when praying, the faithful are supposed not to look at each other, but all together, towards the Saviour. The faithful’ s taking the communion on their knees is meant to rediscover the aspect of Eucharistic adoration, both as an essential part of the celebration and as an attitude towards the mystery of the Lord’s real presence in the Eucharist. The moments of silence are intended to remind the faithful that during the liturgical celebration prayer can be expressed in many ways: through words, song, gestures, music... Among the ways of expressing prayer, however, there is also silence, which has the power to foster authentic religious participation in the celebration, hence to animate all other forms of prayer from within.

Even more comments like this may be found on the Vatican website here.

Let's recall how things looked at an outdoor Mass under Benedict XVI: