Through the generosity of some of our parishioners, my parish recently received a new altar cross to be placed in the center of the altar. For some people this was a custom they had never seen before.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal indicates that there should be a cross “either on the altar or near it” (#308). The cross reminds us that the Mass is the representation of Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary. At every Mass we relive the passion of our Savior, offering our lives to God together with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
His Holiness Benedict XVI has a custom of placing on the altar six candles with the crucifix in the center. This arrangement has become known as “The Benedictine Arrangement”.
It is true that the “Benedictine Arrangement” partially obstructs the peoples’ view of the priest. This is deliberate! His Holiness wishes to remind us that during the Eucharistic Prayer the priest and people are not speaking with one another – they are praying to God. They are participating in the sacrifice of Jesus. The cross is there to be a focal point for the priest and for the people during the Mass.
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