Betydningen av den korsfestede Kristus i liturgien

«De skal se på ham de har gjennomstunget.»

Presten Mauro Gagliardi, som er med i pave Benedikts liturgiske konsultorgruppe, skrev denne artikkelen i gårsdagens L’Osservatore Romano (fra NLM-bloggen):

In this season of Lent, one cannot but think of the great mystery of the sacred Triduum at the end of these forty days will make us meditate and live again in the today of the liturgy, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. An aid on this way of conversion comes from meditation on the centrality of the Cross in the cult and, consequently, in the life of the Christian. The biblical readings of the Mass of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14) present, among others, the theme of looking upon. The Israelites must look upon the bronze serpent lifted on the pole, to be healed from the poison of the snakes (cf. Numbers 21, 4b-9). Jesus in the Gospel of this liturgical celebration, says that he must be lifted up from the earth as the mosaic serpent, so that who believes in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting (cf. John 3, 13-17). The Israelites looked upon the serpent of bronze, but had to make an act of faith in the God who heals. For the disciples of Jesus, however, there is perfect convergence between «looking at» and believing: in order to obtain salvation, one must believe in Him upon Whom one looks: the crucified Risen One, and live in a manner consistent with this fundamental view.

This is the fundamental insight of the traditional liturgcial usage, according to which the sacred minister and the faithful are together turned towards the Crucified. At the time when the practice of celebrating towards the people came into use, the problem arose of the position of the priest at the altar, because now he had his back to the tabernacle and the crucifix.
Initially, in several places was restored the box-shaped tabernacle placed above the altar separated from the wall: that way the tabernacle came to be between the priest and the faithful, in such a way that, although the one was still facing the others, both sacred minister and faithful could all look towards the Lord during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. [SEE A PICTURE OF IT HERE – third picture]

This provisional solution was, however, soon superseded, mainly based on the conviction that this arrangement of the tabernacle generated a conflict of presneces: one could not keep the Blessed Sacrament on the altar of celebration, because this would put in contradicttion the different forms of presence of Christ in the liturgy. In the end, this was resolved by the displacement of the tabernacle to a side chapel. There was still the crucifix, to which the celebrant continued to turn his back, since as a rule it still remained at the center. This was resolved even more easily, by providing that it could now also be placed to the side of the altar. In this way, to be sure, the minister did not turn his back to it anymore, but the image of the crucified Lord lost its centrality and, in any case, the problem was not solved consisting in the fact that the priest was still not able to «look toward the Crucified» during the liturgy.

… … one can probably ackowledge that the moving of the tabernacle from the altar of celebration versus populum (i.e., the new altar) has some arguments more in its favor, since it is based not only on the conflict of presences, but also on the principle of the truth of the liturgical signs. But one cannot say the same about the crucifix. If the centrality of the crucifix is eliminated, the common understanding of the meaning of the liturgy runs the risk of being distorted as a result.

It is obvious that the «looking to» cannot be reduced to a mere outward gesture, made with the simple direction of the eyes. In contrast, it is mainly an attitude of the heart, which can and must be maintained whatever orientation is assumed by the body of the one praying and whatever the direction of the eyes during prayer. Still, in the Roman Canon, even in the missal of Paul VI, there is the rubric that requires the priest to raise his eyes to heaven just before pronouncing the words of consecration over the bread. The orientation of the spirit is more important, but the bodily expression accompanies and sustains the movement within. If it is true, then, that looking toward the Crucified is an act of the spirit, an act of faith and adoration, it remains true, nevertheless, that to look to the image of the Crucified during the liturgy helps and sustains very much the movement of the heart. We need sacred signs and gestures, which, while not a substitute for it, support the movement of the heart which yearns for sanctification: this, too, means acting liturgically ratione signi. Sacredness of the gesture and sanctification of the one praying are not elements opposed to each other, but aspects of one single reality.

If, therefore, the use of celebration versus populum has some positive aspects, one must nevertheless also recognise its limitations: in particular the risk of creating a closed circle between the minister and the faithful, who relegates to the second tier just the One to whom everyone must look with faith during the liturgical cult. It is possible to counter risks by returning to the liturgical prayer its orientation, in particular concerning the Eucharistic liturgy. While the liturgy of the word has its most appropriate form if the priest is facing the people, it seems theologically and pastorally most appropriate to apply the option – recognised by the missal of Paul VI in its various editions – to continue to celebrate the Eucharist toward the Crucified. This can be realised in practice in various ways, including placing the image of the Crucified at the center of the altar of the celebration versus populum, so that everyone, priest and faithful, can look to the Lord during the celebration of His holy sacrifice….

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