Built of Living Stones 91: The Cross

With this section we begin a look at the foremost of “other ritual furnishings.”

§ 91 § The cross with the image of Christ crucified is a reminder of Christ’s paschal mystery. It draws us into the mystery of suffering and makes tangible our belief that our suffering when united with the passion and death of Christ leads to redemption.(CF. Book of Blessings 1233) There should be a crucifix “positioned either on the altar or near it, and . . . clearly visible to the people gathered there.”(GIRM 308) Since a crucifix placed on the altar and large enough to be seen by the congregation might well obstruct the view of the action taking place on the altar, other alternatives may be more appropriate. The crucifix may be suspended over the altar or affixed to the sanctuary wall. A processional cross of sufficient size, placed in a stand visible to the people following the entrance procession is another option. If the processional cross is to be used for this purpose, the size and weight of the cross should not preclude its being carried in procession. If there is already a cross in the sanctuary, the processional cross is placed out of view of the congregation following the procession.(Cf. GIRM 122)

The comments on obstruction are well-taken, even if they run counter to the Holy Father’s personal preferences for liturgy. Visibility for the people is a prime consideration for the cross, not the personal devotion or visibility for the priest.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Built of Living Stones 91: The Cross

  1. Liam says:

    I prefer a cross (icon form especially lovely – there are many examples in the Western tradition beyond the San Damiano icon* – and a parish could commission a new one to be written in that Western tradition) suspended over rather than on the altar. The altar itself is a primary symbol of Christ.

    * Most famously, perhaps, Cimabue: http://uploads4.wikipaintings.org/images/cimabue/crucifix.jpg

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