Friday, November 09, 2007

More on the Altar Cross

Photo by Fotografia Felici

Thanks to The New Liturgical Movement Blog for the following translation from the Italian original:

Paolo Rodari of Palazzo Apostolico has a piece up on the central cross that was found on the papal altar at the beginning of the tenure of Msgr. Guido Marini:

The new MC returns to the old way. The Cross is in the centre, not at the side anymore.

Orientation before everything else: If it is lacking, the assembly gathered in prayer becomes like a closed circle that isn't able anymore to got beyond itself, that isn't able anymore to explode towards the maginificence of Him who comes, the Lord, the transfixed. If that is lacking, the assembly implodes and abases itself into an autonomous and self-sufficient community. And in such a community the dialogue with Him who is beyond it cannot happen and every word becomes self-referential.

It's an enormous risk, the lack of orientation within the sacred liturgy. It's a risk Benedict XVI is trying not to let his people run anymore. A diffcult, very difficult task, above all because of the many "disobedient", who within and without the sacred walls [of the Vatican] read in the will to avoid this risk a grotesque return to the past. Yet it is a necessary, even fundamental task; otherwise that which one prays (lex orandi) becomes nothing else but something different from that which one ought to believe (lex credendi).

This past October 1st, Benedict XVI has given an example: in order to bring the liturgy back to be what it ought to be, he named a new papal MC, the Genoese and "Siriano" [man of Card. Siri], Msgr. Guido Marini, to the post of the more liberal and Bugninist Msgr. Piero (Marini, he too).

It's being said that G. Marini is benevolent towards the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which Ratzinger wanted in order to liberalize the old rite. And in fact he is, because - like the Pontiff - he too recognizes the importance which in this [context] corresponds to the orientation towards the East.

Two days ago, monday November 5th, in his debut in public, G. Marini has not belied the expectations: it was the Holy Mass of intercession for cardinals and bishops deceased in the last year, presided by the Pope. A Mass celebrated in the most prestigious "playing field", the altar of the Cathedra inside St. Peter's basilica. Built by Bernini between 1656 and 1665, it presents four gigantic figures of Doctors of the Church who support a bronze throne which contains the wooden chair, which according to tradition belonged to Peter.

Marini has "directed the dance" with a measured, spiritual conduct. Some days before he had said: "I am not here to invent things, but to apply scrupulously the liturgical norms." And that is what he did. Throughout the Mass he stood beside the Pope with folded hands, as is appropriate. He wore a rochet (a sort of short alb) with a good measure of lace, dusted off for this occasion after years of oblivion.

The liturgy was a sumptuous return of the orientation towards East, towards the coming Lord, Him who rises again from the heights and shows the way to salvation. A return with the flavor of the old, of the preconciliar Mass, and which Monday took place authenticly in the presence of the Cross right in the centre of the altar, put upon the sacred mensa with the six lit candlesticks beside it, as is appropriate.

Benedict XVI celebrated towards the people, but thanks to the rearrangement of the Cross from the side of the altar to its centre, he has restored a common objective for his own gaze and that of the assembly, all in token of a correct, democratic vision of liturgical orthopraxis.

Card. Ratzinger had put it well, in his "Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy": "Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than Our Lord?"

Evidently not. A Cross positioned like this even symbolizes much, very much. It is the legacy of an ancient usage, to be dated to the thresholds of the apostolic age. A usage which more than any other helps that "conversi ad Dominum" of Augustinian memory, this conversion of the gaze which permits to realize that it is only from beyond that the salvation, towards which we stretch, can come. If the orientation in the liturgy is lacking, the orientation in the life of faith is lacking. The Mass of last monday was also the occasion to let shine other old practices. It was like a final rehearsal for a first public celebration in the old rite, a celebration which, it is said, will happen in merely some months. For a start, beyond the Cross in the centre of the altar, the return of the lace alb beneath the liturgical vestments was enough. Benedict XVI put on one of John XXIII which for years had been lying folded up among the treasures of the pontifical sacristy. Treasures all to be rediscovered.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Fr LWG said...

Oops. My bad!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Nicholas Larkin said...

That is awesome!

4:13 PM  

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