Friday, March 27, 2009

We preach Christ...mas tree trunks

Another thwarted wheel and point at Mass last Sunday at St. Al's. Our new deacon was speaking on the theme of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, and wheeled, and, there being no Crucifix, pointed to the Cross formed from bundled Christmas tree trunks. (Months ago parishioners were asked to trim the branches from discarded Christmas trees and bring in the trunks.)

This Catholics United for the Faith "Faith Facts" on Lenten Traditions Within the Home includes "3. Lenten Centerpiece".
It is ideal to use the trunk of a Christmas tree as the cross. The tree symbolizes the fullness of Christ’s incarnation, coming to us as a humble baby and saving us humbly on the cross 33 years later.

This is another case of a home devotional practice being scaled up for liturgical use at St. Al's. At the same time, the liturgy team seems phobic of a conventional symbol, such as the Crucifix, see Just doing his job and Crucifixes in government buildings.

Perhaps the homily was connected not only to the Season of Lent but to our pastor's column in the January 18, 2009 bulletin (no longer on-line). He discussed a June 2008 Priest Magazine article by Rev. Ronald Witherup on the Lutheran and Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. In the years since its October 31, 1999 signing, Rev. Witherup writes, the Declaration
has not sifted down to the general public thoroughly.

Our pastor's column does not mention if some review will be undertaken of the thoroughness of our parish's religious instruction on the doctrine of justification and the Reformation, or if there will be sermons or other instruction to reach those no longer of school age. For starters, remember
If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
--Canon I, Decree on Justification, January 13, 1547, The Council of Trent, The Sixth Session

Get people looking into things, though, and someone might come across this.
The cross with the image of Christ crucified is a reminder of Christ's paschal mystery. It draws us into the mystery of suffering and makes tangible our belief that our suffering when united with the passion and death of Christ leads to redemption. There should be a crucifix "positioned either on the altar or near it, and ... clearly visible to the people gathered there." [footnotes omitted] ...
--The Cross, §91, Other Ritual Furnishings, Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship, Chapter Two: The Church Building and the Sacred Rites Celebrated There, Committee on Divine Worship (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., 2000)



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