On the Altar Crucifix, the Liturgy, and our Faith

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/details/ns_lit_doc_20091117_crocifisso_en.html

On the matter of the altar crucifix, which has bugged me for months now, can liturgists be empowered so that they can indeed persuade the priests, in coordination with the bishop of course, to put such a beautiful, reasonable, and meaningful arrangement? 

As altar crucifix is for the priest to use, and is no barrier to the faithful as many would have countered, and we should indeed glory in the cross of Christ, and not be ashamed at having it. The other, usually larger altar crucifix is for the rest of the congregations to see. Naturally, as in many post-Vatican II arrangements, these crucifixes are placed such that the priests can no longer see them.

It is crucial that everyone, and including the priests, focus their attention to the Lord, represented in the altar crucifix, as the interior alignment/orientation and condition of the priests are important in their celebration of the Mass, that their attention is not to themselves, and not to other things, but towards the Lord. 

http://www.hprweb.com/2012/01/cross-altar-and-the-right-way-of-praying/

In the old days, this is no problem since everyone is facing the Lord, but in our modern arrangement, there is no better solution than that of the “Benedictine” arrangement, by our beloved Pope Benedict XVI himself, that an additional altar crucifix should be used on the altar if the priests cannot see the large crucifix behind the altar intended for the congregation. 

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/details/ns_lit_doc_20110126_crocifisso_en.html

That this is the new “Ad orientem” (literally means facing east, as traditionally, Christians pray facing east, towards Jerusalem), which is indeed, facing towards God, in Jesus, for the people, and the priests (celebrant and concelebrants alike).

Similarly with the traditional 6 candles arrangement (7 for bishops), bowing at the Name of Jesus Christ, at the Incarnation moment of the Creed, and many others. There are meanings to all of these, and these are not just ornaments, but articles and things that can help deepen the faith of all who participate in the Mass, if the priests explain them clearly, and together, through the liturgy, our faith can only be ever stronger.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 20 : 17-28

When Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him, and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all.”

“Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Psalm 30 : 5-6, 14, 15-16

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o Lord, faithful God.

I hear whispering among the crowd, rumours that frighten me from every side – their conspiracies, their schemes, their plot to take my life.

But I put my trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are my God;” my days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Jeremiah 18 : 18-20

Then, they said, “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah, for even without him, there will be priests to interpret the Teachings of the Law; there will always be wisemen to impart counsel and prophets to proclaim the word. Come, let us accuse him and strike him down instead of listening to what he says.”

“Hear me, o YHVH! Listen to what my accusers say. Is evil the reward for good? Why do they dig a grave for me? Remember how I stood before You to speak well on their behalf so that Your anger might subside.”

Reminder : Pope Benedict XVI’s last General Audience and farewell to public throughout the world

Pope Benedict XVI will preside over his last General Audience today, Wednesday, 27 February 2013, which will be held at St. Peter’s Square due to expected massive crowds that will come to say their farewell and thanks to our Pope who will be stepping down tomorrow at 8.00 pm. This will be his last public event as our Pope. So, do follow the event live and pray for him!

The event will begin at 10.25 am CET (Central European Time or UTC+1), and therefore accordingly here are the times for some areas in the world :

1. PST (Western USA) (UTC-8) : Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 1.25 am

2. EST (Eastern USA) (UTC-5) : Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 4.25 am

3. UTC (GMT) : Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 9.25 am

4. WIB (Western Indonesia) (UTC+7) : Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 4.25 pm

5. SG time (UTC+8) : Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 5.25 pm (also for HK, China, Philippines, and Malaysia)

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

Humility is one of the greatest virtues a Christian can have, and to be humble is one of the calling for us Christians, to accomplish. To be humble people of God, humbling ourselves before one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and also humbling ourselves before God. In our humility, God will be able to find the true greatness in us, that is our faith, and love for Him. Pride often closes our heart to the Lord, and distance ourselves from Him, and we will be therefore judged unworthy.

It is in humility that we learn to be able to receive the love of God, and to also render forgiveness and justice upon others, since in humility, we realise our own personal weaknesses as human beings, as imperfect creatures that are bound to sin, mistakes, and faults. Therefore, if we humbly place ourselves, and act in humility and love, we will know that we too are just like others around us, who are our brothers and sisters, no matter our rank, our wealth, or our affluence. For everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord.

If we fully realise the fullness of our weaknesses, our frailty, and our unworthiness before God, we will be able to act more justly on others, and to render loving acts and kindness to everyone, especially those whom we hate, who are less fortunate than us, that through these acts, they too can be transformed, from hatred into love, and from the poverty of the material, into the wealth of the soul. Why is this so? because we understand the nature of our frailty, our disposition towards sin and failures, that we will not easily mete out judgments on others, as we too have the same kind of weakness, and if we judge someone based on their failures, eventually, we ourselves will also be judged.

If we judge someone first, that someone will not look kindly upon us, and even may hate us. In doing so, not only that we have judged someone perhaps unjustly, but also may cause someone to fall into hatred and therefore sin. Instead, if we refrain ourselves from quick judgment and take the time to reflect upon our actions or possible course of actions, we will realise that the only way to end this endless cycle of judgment, hatred, violence, and more judgment is that to break free from it, through acts of love and justice.

Let us also in addition to that, also in humility, bow down before the Lord and wash ourselves away from our sins. Especially, in this season of Lent, which is perfect for this purpose, as we, through fasting, abstinence, and doing penance, can undergo a thorough spiritual cleansing and purification, to rid ourselves of the evils and faults that plagued us, and ensured that we are found worthy in the end, after a long battle with evil and sin, and the darkness and corruption they brought to our hearts, and to our minds. Let us also fill ourselves with love, and through that love, exercise loving acts, that all those whom we work on, will experience the love of the Lord, and therefore will also be called to salvation and purification of their sins through repentance, just as we are. That they all too may live!

Many will use the Gospel passage today as their main weapon to attack our Church mindlessly, as many literally interpret the Scripture so much that they lose the true meaning of the passage, and through their misunderstanding of the Church of God, they instead become the agents of Satan unknowingly in attempting to destroy and damage God’s Holy Church and God’s Holy people.

For indeed Jesus said that we should not call anybody in this world our father, Rabbi or Master, or leader, because indeed, we have only one such figure in all universe, that is God, God the creator, and God who saved us from eternal death, and brought us to eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. However, we understand that, as we know, our priests, whom we call Father, are called that because they are our spiritual fathers, just as we have our biological fathers who took care of our needs since our birth. And while biological fathers take care of our needs, our spiritual fathers ensured that we grew ever stronger in our faith and love of God. But most importantly, we call them so, because they are in representation of Christ Himself, in persona Christi, through the authority and power given to them through the Apostles. We call them Father ultimately not because we revere them as much as the Lord, but we revere the Lord through them, whom we call Father.

That is why, our Pope, whom we call Holy Father, while many will aggressively attack such a title, is nothing more than what I have mentioned. He, as the Bishop of Rome, as the leader of all the faithful in Christ, the successor of Blessed St. Peter the Apostle, to whom Christ entrusted His Church and all His ‘sheep’, is even closer in union with Christ, with God who is our Father. When we call the Pope our Holy Father, this is because we revere the Lord, our God, of whom the Pope is the Vicar, the representative in this world.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, if anyone would ever ask you the question, why you call your priests and so and so father, now you know how to answer them and enlighten them on the truth. That instead of succumbing to the evil one, we rise and fight against him, in the Name of God the Most High, our Saviour Jesus Christ. May God bless us all, that all of us may grow ever stronger in faith, in hope, and in love. That we can use this Lenten season to the best we can, to purify ourselves from our unworthiness before God, and to make ourselves ever closer to God, and help bring one another together closer to God. Amen.