Is a crucifix with
the figure of the crucified Lord required at all Masses? Can it be replaced by a crucifix
with the risen Lord on it?
Can a plain cross be used in place of a crucifix on Good Friday?
According to the Book of Blessings, n. 1235 "The image of the cross should
preferably be a crucifix, that is, have the corpus attached, especially in the case
of a cross that is erected in a place of honor inside a church."
According to the General Instruction, n. 79 "There is also to be a cross on or near the altar. The
candles and cross may be carried in the entrance procession." The Ceremonial of Bishops
comments that the image on the cross is to face forward. (n. 128) In the Latin version,
which is the authoritative version, "cross" is "crux" meaning a
crucifix. This has always meant a crucifix. The same word is used in documents before and after the Second Vatican Council.
Had a new interpretation of this word been intended, mention would have been made somewhere. A
risen Christ crucifix is an oxymoron and does not fulfill the requirement for a crucifix
since a risen Christ is not a crucified Christ. There is nothing wrong with having an
image of a risen Christ or a plain cross elsewhere in the Church or even behind the altar as long as during
Mass a crucifix is "on or near the altar."
On Good Friday, the primary focus of the entire Church is on the crucifixion. On this day, more than any other, the practice of venerating the crucifix should be encouraged.
I can think of no logical argument to use a plain cross instead of a crucifix.
This matter was discussed with Mr. Dennis McManus, Associate Director of the Bishops'
Committee on the Liturgy and he could not think of any rational to replace the
crucifix with a risen Christ.