Monday, November 26, 2007

It is Jesus Crucified!

Again, again and again the Holy Father speaks about the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ, Crucified, in the lives of Christians and in the life of the Church. For most of us he came to prominence with his attack Liberation Theology, not because it favoured the poor and downtrodden and was opposed to Capitalism but simply because it attempted to replace Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified with Marxist Dialectic. Any escape from the centrality of the Cross is a denial of Christianity. The celebrations over the weekend, the signs and the words, even the large image on the Cardinalation ring, were all very subtle signs of this, the Crucified. His theology of the Mass, most especially, too, is the emphasis of the Sacrifice of the Cross, hence the welcoming by so many on the blogosphere of the return traditional arrangement of the Eastward, Crucifix facing celebration on the altar of St Peter's Basilica.

In his homily, the Pontiff explained that “in Jesus crucified there is the
greatest possible revelation of God in this world, because God is love, and the
death of Jesus on the cross is the greatest act of love in all of history.”

“On the cardinal’s ring, which I will soon give to the new members of
the sacred college, the crucifixion is portrayed,” he said. “This, dear
brothers, will always be for you an invitation to remember the king whose
servants you are, on which throne he was raised up and how he remained faithful
to the very end to defeat sin and death with the power of divine mercy.

“Mother Church, bride of Christ, gives you this sign as a commemoration
of her Bridegroom, who loved her and gave himself up for her. Thus, wearing this
ring of the cardinalate, you are constantly called to give your life for the

From The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger:

"Facing toward the East, as we heard, was
linked with the "sign of the Son of Man", with the Cross, which announces Our
Lord's Second Coming. That is why, very early on, the East was linked with the
sign of the cross. Where a direct common turning toward the East is not
possible, the cross can serve as the interior "East" of faith. It should stand
in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and
praying community.

"In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer:
Conversi ad Dominum, "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One
whose Death tore the veil of the Temple -- the One who stands before the Father
for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living

"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?

"This mistake should be corrected as quickly as
possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of
reference. He is the rising sun of history."


Henry said...

In this age when fame and wealth are the most valued attributes, where the dominant idea is that the most important thing to be doing is to make money by shifting money around, nothing can be more important than to emphasise worship of the crucified Christ. It is the only effective counter to the craziness that has gripped the Western world. And which is now showing every indication that the inevitable denouement is not far off.

Taliesin said...

Thank you for this blog, with its clear thinking and faithfulness. Most Priests are too busy to have this kind of ministry, and I, for one, do appreciate the sacrifice of time involved.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thank you, Father, for this timely post on the centrality of the Cross in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

The photo you have posted of the Pope celebrating facing the crucifix says it all.

In St. Peter's basilica, where a direct common turning towards the East is not possible, the Cross situated at the centre of the papal altar can serve as the interior "East" of faith.

People who do not agree with this should read and re-read the Spirit of the Liturgy by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, especially the words quoted by Father Ray in this post.

Incidentally, many years ago I was situated rather near the papal altar for a Mass celebrated by Paul VI.

Unfortunately, one of the massive columns of the geat baldachino was directly in my line of sight, so that I saw almost none of the liturgical action !

But it didn't matter. I was at Mass. I knew what was going on. I didn't need to "see" everything.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Taliesin, Thank you for kind words, I actually spend less than 45mins a day on blog. Not really a greatdeal of time. I read the news on-line, and check comments etc between appointments.