On the feast of St Joseph we inaugurated the Benedictine altar arrangement at Campion College with a new altar crucifix and candlesticks. The Mass began with the rite of blessing for these furnishings which were bought through our Sydney suppliers, Sarks, from Luis Molina Acedo of Madrid.
The crucifix placed in the centre of the altar means that when the priest approaches the altar he is definitely approaching an altar and not merely a table. The Holy Father has asked every parish church in the world to place a crucifix on the altar - a part of the "reform of the reform" which he is helping to engender within the Church. And here at Campion we are trying to respond.
One could ask: why was the crucifix ever taken off the altar? I imagine that it was because of the over emphasis, in recent decades, on the Mass as a meal. And indeed there is a meal in the Mass, but it is a meal which flows out of the sacrifice. Without the sacrifice there would be no Mass at all.
I think that the "new" arrangement indicated by Pope Benedict isn't best termed a Bendictine altar, but simply a Catholic altar.