Monday, July 13, 2009
The Eucharistic Offering to the Father
(If your browser does not display the graphic that should be visible above, please go to this link to see the illustration that accompanies this post.)
The above illustrates (pardon some of the shaky lines!) the offering of the Eucharist by the ordained priest at the sacrifice of the Mass. In the Ad orientem posture (usually, but not exclusively, seen in the Extraordinary Form/"Tridentine" Mass), we see the priest offering the Eucharistic Jesus toward the Crucifix. In the Christus Versus Populum ("Christ toward the people") posture, we see the crucifix looming behind the priest who stand in the place of Christ ( in persona Christi) as the priest offers the Eucharist to the Father.
In my view, the Christus Versus Populum posture seems to capture better the drama of the ordained priest standing in the place of Christ and offering to the Father. In constrast, the Ad orientem view seems to signify that the offering is being made to Christ on the crucifix. Judge for yourself. If you imagine the corpus (the representation of the body of Christ) on the crucifix, I submit that one notes how powerful the Christus Versus Populum posture is: Jesus on the crucifix with outstretched arms looms behind the ordained priest standing in the place of Jesus as the ordained priest offers the Eucharist to the Father. In my personal opinion, this symbolic richness is a plus in favor of the Christus Versus Populum posture, especially if a large crucifix looms behind the priest or hangs above the priest (as you will see in some churches).