21 December 2011

Covering the Crucifix

A few weeks ago, I wrote an e-mail to ZENIT with a liturgical question about my parish covering the crucifix behind the altar during the Christmas and Easter Seasons. It must have been an important question because they published an answer yesterday (I just read it today). Reprinting ZENIT's articles require written permission from the editor, so I'll just post my question here and provide you with a link to the answer.

Q: My parish has a beautiful crucifix mounted on the wall behind the altar that has been a great aid in my prayer life. Unfortunately, I must pray without this aid during the seasons of Christmas and of Easter, as during these seasons the crucifix is completely covered. During Christmas, a star is placed above the crucifix with a tail that hangs down to completely cover it. Likewise, during Easter, a banner of the Risen Christ is hung over the crucifix so that it is hidden from view. I realize that "a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, [be] either on the altar or near it" during Mass (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 308), and I considered the processional cross, which is placed beside the sanctuary during Mass, to fulfill this requirement when the crucifix behind the altar is covered (cf. GIRM, 122). However, upon further reflection, I now question if the processional cross fulfills this requirement as it is beside the sanctuary during Mass and not "next to the altar" (GIRM, 122); and, it is not "clearly visible to the [entire] assembled congregation" (GIRM, 308). As well, it does not "remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations" (GIRM, 308). Is it appropriate that the crucifix mounted on the wall behind the altar be covered during any liturgical season? -- R.G., Leduc, Alberta

The answer can be read here:

On January 17th, there was a follow-up to this article: