Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The "Benedictine" Altar Arrangement and Cardinal Siri

You will often find supporters of the New Liturgical Movement have a special veneration for the late Archbishop of Genoa, Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, and belonging to the "school of Siri", like the papal MC Msgr Guido Marini, is widely seen as a guarantee of liturgical sense. An example of why this is so is the decree on the "Cult of the Eucharist and the Altars" which Cardinal Siri issued in 1974, in a time when in many places the "hermeneutic of rupture" held sway. The Italian blog Cordialiter offers us some excerpts of this decree, which deal with the altar arrangement and effectively recommend what we have come to call the "Benedictine" altar arrangement. They also prescribe Communion kneeling (keep in mind that Communion in the hand was not allowed then, and was therefore not addressed in this decree), another traditional practice promoted by the Restoration of the Sacred initiated by Pope Benedict. Here is an NLM translation of these excerpts of the decree:

Versus populum altars shall always have, also at times when no liturgical functions take place, candlesticks (not less than two or four, better yet six) [...] It is in fact the candlesticks which distinguish the Catholic altar from the non-Catholic altar and that is of utmost importance. [...]

It is recommended, even if the law permits greater freedom, to maintain the use of the Crucifix upon the altar in the middle, in such a manner that the celebrant and the people have always a visual reminder that upon that altar the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross itself is celebrated. [...]

Between the two forms allowed by general law to approach Holy Communion, the one which is more accordant with the mentality of our population is that of kneeling down. It is prescribed therefore to distribute Holy Communion to the faithful kneeling. Communion standing is not admitted in the Archdiocese. In case faithful present themselves who are accustomed to another ceremonial, they are to be inivited politely but firmly to conform to the diocesan regulations.

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