Krusifiks, alter og den rette måten å be på

NLM-bloggen melder at Fr. Stefan Heid har skrevet en artikkel i the Homiletic and Pastoral Review med overskriften «Cross, Altar and the Right Way of Praying,». Der tar han opp pave Benedikts oppfordring om å sette et stort krustifiks på alteret også (eller kanskje spesielt) når man feirer messen versus populum. (Min erfaring sier også at dette krusifikset bør være ganske stort, minst 1/2 meter – i Peterskirken er det vel over 2 meter.) Fr Heid skriver bl.a. dette om hvordan presten ber:

… The sacrificial action of the Eucharist takes place on the altar, within a continuous current of prayer: from the prayer over the gifts, through the Eucharistic Prayer, to the Our Father. In this respect, the Eucharistic action is markedly different from the liturgy of the Word that precedes it. The ambo is, strictly speaking, not a place of prayer; the Opening Prayer is better placed at the celebrant’s chair. In the usus antiquior, the priest is always standing at the altar, and almost always praying! The silent prayers are neither private prayers nor mere time-fillers (i.e., horror vacui), but rather to make the altar a place of unceasing prayer.

Once this point has been acknowledged, the implication is that the priest at the altar takes on a different attitude, or mindset, than he has anywhere else. Here he stands, first and foremost, as one who prays. Christianity recognizes this distinctive prayer posture where the priest raises his hands, as well as his eyes. The raising of hands and eyes belongs, inseparably, to the gesture of early Christian prayer, just as Jesus himself practiced in the Jewish tradition. Standing in prayer is also part of this tradition, seen as a fundamental posture for one in prayer; on one’s knees praying, likewise, uses elevated hands and eyes, all dating back to early Christianity. Since the Middle Ages, this prayer posture, with hands and eyes raised, has faded somewhat from practice. Now, it is only the priest raising his hands (and eyes for only a few short moments) because he is reading prayers. He does look up, for instance, in the Roman canon at the time of the consecration while speaking the words: “et elevatis oculis in coelum”. Therefore, Jesus inaugurates the Eucharist “with eyes raised to heaven.”

Even in the ordo novus, the rubric at this point reads: “He (the priest) raises his eyes.” But where exactly is the priest supposed to be looking, at the church ceiling? So when the priest in reciting a prayer is required to look upward, rather than simply staring into space, the obvious focal point is a high-standing cross on the main altar. …

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