Springfield’s Bishop Issues New Directives on the Placement of the Tabernacle

In his first pastoral letter, Ars celebrandi et adorandi, Bishop Paprocki of Springfield Illinois discusses the “art of celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy Properly and Adoring the Lord in the Eucharist Devoutly.” Parts of Bishop ­­­­Paprocki’s pastoral letter are quite beauty and pastoral.

For Bishop Paprocki, it is the celebration of the Church’s liturgies, and not lists of directives and rules, that draws people into the fold. This is why we must ensure that our liturgies are celebrated in a dignified and beautiful way. Bishop Paprocki writes:

Father Robert Barron, Rector of Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago, often speaks about the role of beauty in attracting people to the Church, using an analogy from baseball to make his point. He notes that you will not get people interested in baseball by explaining the “infield fly rule” to them before doing anything else. What attracts people to baseball initially is the beauty of the game, the skill of pitching, hitting and catching the baseball and running the bases. The infield fly rule and all the other intricate and sometimes arcane rules of any sport only have interest and relevance for people who already know and love the game…The same is true with attracting people to the Church. We do not start by listing rules. The beauty of our church edifices, magnificent works of religious art and the graceful celebration of the liturgy, accompanied by harmonious music, inspiring homilies and the active participation of the faithful, are the foundational elements that attract people to the liturgy. Attention to the liturgical norms only comes after one has an appreciation for the art of the celebration.

After noting the importance of the art of celebration, Bishop Paprocki then goes on to impart several “observations and directives regarding the reservation and adoration of the Holy Eucharist.” It is here that Bishop Paprocki begins to talk about the placement of the tabernacle:

the faithful in some places do not frequently come to pray before the tabernacle to be in the presence of the Lord. Several reasons for this certainly exist, but one among them is the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today.

He notes that many tabernacles have been placed at side altars or in Eucharistic chapels that are not prominent or visible.

Bishop Paprocki also notes an “emptiness” in churches that were designed with tabernacles in the center of the sanctuary:

The great majority of our parish churches and chapels were designed to house the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary; removing the tabernacle from these sanctuaries has left a visible emptiness within the sacred space, almost as though the building itself longed for the return of the tabernacle. With the removal of the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary, the architectural integrity of many churches and chapels has been severely compromised.

Citing Pope Benedict XVI’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist in 2007, which calls for Diocesan Bishops to determine the placement of tabernacles in their dioceses, Bishop Paprocki writes:

I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

I understand Bishop Paprocki’s thinking. Churches designed with a tabernacle at the center of the sanctuary can often look empty when their tabernacles are moved elsewhere. However, sound liturgical principles call for the altar, and not the tabernacle, to be the central symbol in any church. The restoration of the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary often overshadows the altar. Any “emptiness” left behind by the removal of a tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary to another space should not be “filled” by placing the tabernacle back in its previous location.

I commend Bishop Paprocki’s attempts to remove any “emptiness” that might be perceived to exist in the sanctuary of some churches. I also agree that devotion to the Blessed Sacrament should be fostered and that our tabernacles should be placed in a noble and prominent place. However, the restoration of the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary should be avoided.

 

 

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107 comments

  1. I’ve always loved how the Orthodox Church (and those Eastern Churches in communion with Rome) are able to place the tabernacle on the altar itself and yet no one there suggests that it distracts attention from the Divine Liturgy or confuses the faithful (especially since they never developed devotion to the reserved sacrament though they do have prayer to Christ present in the holy gifts).
    I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about being distracted during mass by the tabernacle itself. Placing the tabernacle near the altar underscores the relationship between the liturgy and reservation which makes sense since adoration is always supposed to flow from the liturgy and lead back to it. I’m very happy that more and more new churches are being built with the tabernacle behind the altar, and that other churches are being renovated to return it to its rightful place. The era of suspicion towards Eucharistic adoration is coming to an end. This is another place where liturgists can learn from the saints and from the people of God at prayer.

    1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #1:

      In my experience of Orthodox churches, the vessel for the reservation of the Holy Gifts on the Altar is a modest affair. This does not mean it is understated in its design or not an object of beauty, however. They just get the balance right, it seems to me.

      It is quite a different matter with altar designs in the Latin Rite, especially those of the Baroque and Gothic Revival. The spiritual background to this is indeed a massive devotion to the reserved Sacrament.

      In these designs the Tabernacle does appear to dominate, with the actual altar often little more than a shelf in front and a massive superstructure of exposition throne, gradines for huge candlesticks and other stuff, swooning angels, etc. Translate this into liturgical terms and you get the impression that Holy Mass is just the way we ‘produce’ the Blessed Sacrament, whose main purpose is evidently to be worshipped. I know that’s not how we think, but that’s what the ensemble suggests.

      In older re-ordered churches I have noticed a tendency to retain all this superstructure and to place a new altar in front, or even at one time simply to move the altar table forward so that the priest is squeezed in between altar and the rest, with the Tabernacle behind him. This is visually unsatisfactory. The Tabernacle, six candlesticks, flowers, etc, become the real eye catchers on the sanctuary, while the altar, some way in front, is by comparison insignificant.

      I think that the Bishop has a point when he refers back to the basic design and orientation of a Church interior as furnishing a determining criterion. There is no reason why the Sacrament should not be on the Sanctuary, or anywhere else, for that matter. It is simply a question of appropriate layout and design. Cathedral and Monastic churches have been having Sacrament chapels for a millennium and that seems to work without problems.

      AG

      1. @Alan Griffiths – comment #13:

        Alan,

        Your comment make sense, but is more an argument against over elaborate tabernacles (with which I would agree), than about their placement.

        Also, the thing to remember about Cathedral and Monastic churches, is that they tend to be relatively bigger. That size lets them avoid the issue I identified about distraction – The separate chapel can be far enough way as to not get in the way, while still being suitable for the purpose of adoration.

      2. @Scott Smith – comment #15:

        Thank you and absolutely. As far as I can see, medieval (i.e. pre c16) evidence suggests simple altars with the Sacrament reserved above them or to one side in an aumbry in the sanctuary wall, or even in a few cases in an apparently portable reliquary on the altar itself.

        All this seems to preclude the distribution of Holy Communion from the reserve during Mass, while large central tabernacles facilitate it. I have lost count of the number of directives (starting, I believe, in c18) against this custom. The level of reprimand is probably in direct proportion to the widespread nature of the practice.

        However you design the altar, as the primary visual symbol of Christ in the Church, it most appropriately has both the Book of the Gospels and the Sacrament reserved upon it.

        The real fly in the ointment is actually the 20th century notion that the Liturgy of the Eucharist must be celebrated with the priest facing the people over the altar. But I guess to argue against that option might be regarded as politically incorrect!

        AG

      3. @Alan Griffiths – comment #17:
        An historical dynamic for the US was that originally small churches would of practicality include everything in one room. When new churches were built, the chapel sensibility was just magnified, but not reorganized.

        I suspect the “real fly,” as it were, is just an extension of the Catholic imagination. It’s not so much about the priest facing the people, but the priest getting out of the way of the “action” on the altar. People want to see, after all. Which is part of the desire of many to have that tabernacle, that golden cabinet, that special high wall, that focus.

        The natural consequence of that might be to question the need for a priest at all: get everything out of the way, including the altar and the priest (if the bishop won’t provide one) and just give me Communion from the tabernacle in my condemned church building. That’s all I need, right?

    2. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #1
      Copts, Ethiopians, and the Assyrian Church of the East don’t reserve the eucharist and don’t appear to have ever done so.

      Bishop Paprocki might wish to permit leaving the altar as the chief object (and originally the only one along with the book of the gospels) to signify Jesus’ presence. Perhaps, making provision for having altars built with a cavity inside the altar itself for storing a pyx. To be used solely for the sick and dying.

      It’s a way of making certain only hosts consecrated at Mass are distributed to the congregation, unites the place of reservation to the sacred action, and ensures the place of reservation won’t be competing with the altar for attention. I’ve seen a couple of churches in Italy and France where this was done. In one case the cavity could be entered from the north side, or a small aumbry with a door built into the surface of the mensa.

      BTW, for the Byzantines, the use of the tabernacle on the altar is a very late addition. It seems to have become popular at the time of the development of western theology pertaining to the Real Presence and the placement of the tabernacle on the altar. However, some EO and eastern Catholic churches still use the suspended dove, but never communicate the people at the divine liturgy from this hanging pyx.

      1. @Brian Palmer – comment #14:
        I wasn’t referring to the pre-Chalcedonian churches (which I thought was clear since they are usually referred to as “Oriental”), though I do believe that the Ethiopians still reserve the Eucharist, and that the Copts originally did but ceased to do so through historically contingent circumstances.
        However, I don’t see how this is relevant to my post (I don’t see how the fact that the Byzantine practice is a late development is relevant either). I am curious though, do you have any evidence that it was the influence of western theology that lead to this practice in the East?

        My point was only that:

        1. The arguments against the central tabernacle in the west typically have to do with it drawing attention away from the altar, and making people want to adore the reserved sacrament during Mass or see the Mass as simply the means for making the reserved sacrament.

        2. The Byzantine practice is a good counterexample to the objections mentioned in 1, since the Byzantines do not have the practice of adoration of the blessed sacrament (outside of the liturgy) and they never developed the anxiety concerning the tabernacle drawing attention from the altar. (This does not of course mean that abuses cannot(have not) occurred in the west with regards to this practice, but only that this practice does not necessarily lead to such abuses.)

  2. I think we can all think of churches were the tabernacle is not “front and center” where it is beautiful, dignified, reverent, and no one gets confused, or senses any “emptiness.” (St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican comes to mind, also St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and dozens and dozens of others, especially cathedrals and monasteries.)

    I can also think of churches where the tabernacle is front and center, where it feels very empty.

    All in all, I think it’s best to respect the original architectural dignity of the building (hoping there is/was dignity in the first place); then trying to shoehorn it to the hide (where it doesn’t fit), or front and center (where it doesn’t fit). People on both sides of the spectrum often don’t get it. Sadly, Bishop Paprocki doesn’t get it.

  3. Actually, Bp Paprocki doesn’t say that it has to be moved into the center if the space wasn’t designed for it to be in the center. In such a case, it need only be in a visible, prominent and noble place. So, to that extent, he does appear to get it.

    As for my own preferences, such as they are: I an not an axial-placement-uber alles person. By the same token, I have no allergic reaction to axial placement. The one thing I do take exception to is placement that appears more as an afterthought or a gimmick than a credible interpretation of the requirements. And, unfortunately, I have witnessed some of those.

    There are places (progressive places, too, btw) that I’d also like to see less of an automatic recourse to the tabernacle at the beginning of the Communion Rite.

  4. However, sound liturgical principles call for the altar, and not the tabernacle, to be the central symbol in any church. The restoration of the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary often overshadows the altar.

    Nathan,

    This is theory over reality. Having the tabernacle other than with the altar often distracts from the altar, as it creates a rival focal point in the Church.

    Repeating decades old nostrums, without regard to the experience in the meantime, does not equal sound liturgical principles.

    1. @Scott Smith – comment #6:
      It does not *necessarily* create a rival focal point or distraction. The assumption that it does is typically an assumption or a conclusory argument, and as such is more of a nostrum than persuasive. It gets repeated in certain circles the way that the superiority of the “silent” canon gets repeated in other circles.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #7:

        Karl,

        Which is why I said “often”, rather than “necessarily”, in a deliberate echo of Nathan’s assertion that the “tabernacle…often overshadows the altar”.

        But since that echo seems not to have been clear, I can add “in my experience” as a further qualifier for the sake of accuracy.

  5. “The assumption that it does is typically an assumption or a conclusory argument, and as such is more of a nostrum than persuasive.”

    The same can be said for the notion that “the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today.”

    How easy is easy? Does easy mean the place one was accustomed to finding it in 1960? Does easy mean keeping a safe distance from it with plenty of pews in front, and an altar and other sanctuary clutter in between? Does easy mean one doesn’t need to get out of my comfy personal pew–the same one used for Mass and for after absolution? Does easy now preclude other needful things happening in the Church, as Pope Paul VI suggested in 1967?

    My sense is that with some traditionally minded folks, perhaps Bishop Paprocki included, that a better opportunity is being overlooked. I don’t have as much a problem with a tabernacle competing with the altar as a focus, but for the missed opportunity to pray near the tabernacle as a deeper expression of intimacy.

    But my sense is that a lot of people, conservatives and progressives alike, are sometimes discomfited with a real presence of Christ, as distinct at times from that “easy” place where we put the Lord.

    I think Chuck may be onto something. I don’t know that Bishop Paprocki gets it or not. This directive doesn’t tell me one way or the other.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #9:

      The same can be said for the notion that “the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today.”

      I would agree with you here Todd. I have not seen any tabernacles hidden away in broom cupboards.

      My own parish has a separate Chapel for the tabernacle, which is a very prayerful place, and is in fact my favourite spot in my Church (it feels, I don’t know, more prayed in, if that makes any sense). Indeed my own 4yo daughter seems instinctively drawn to it – She insists on going to pray in the Chapel before Mass begins (even though that would not be my own practice).

      But the fact my parish has seen fit to place a permanent notice in the Chapel requesting it not be used during Mass, as people were being drawn away from the communal celebration of the Eucharist, suggests this placement is not without issues.

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #10:
        That notice is curious to me, and strikes me as a bit too fussy. I could see, for example, a person taking extra time to pray, for example, after a coffee in the church hall after a previous Mass.

        As for the possibility of a person choosing to pray in a chapel, then sneaking out to receive Communion, then go back … well, that may not be optimal, but as one notable bishop recently said, “Who am I to judge?” I don’t think the nave is the only possible place to pray in a church, even when Mass is going on. What do they think happens after the catechumens are dismissed?

        Alas, fussy things like that are what can sink laudable practices. Even including perpetual/continuous adoration. Would Bishop Paprocki want to be the bad guy for shutting down something like that? I would hope not.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #11:

        Todd,

        I would not have put the notice there myself. Indeed, I would have us remove it, if anyone asked. If someone wants to adore the Sacrament, rather than attend Mass at a particular time, it does not bother me (i.e. they may have already been to Mass that day or whatever).

        But full active participation in the Mass is supposed to be encouraged, and we have changed plenty of things to help with it.

        And if the placement of the tabernacle has failed to help in this regard, against want I think were the intentions, surely it should be reconsidered?

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #10:
        In my local parish, the blessed sacrament was removed to the former boiler room, which was through a door and down a passage. Fortunately, we eventually got a new parish priest and a new bishop and the tabernacle was restored to the centre of the sanctuary. Unfortunately, it stands on a shelf, the former setting by a very distinguished architect, Joseph Aloysius Hansom, having been destroyed.

  6. A church is the Lord’s house. Human houses usually have at least two separate parts, the area where people gather (the living room/dining room) and the other more private areas. It seems to me that it’s only natural to consider the gathering area to be the sanctuary, the area where the altar table is. The tabernacle, on the other hand, signifies the private area where the Lord stays when there is no gathering of the whole assembly going on.

    Private areas in other houses are in different parts of those houses. So why shouldn’t the tabernacle be in different places in different churches — including behind the altar?

    I think the placement of the old tabernacles behind the altars did present a problem sometimes, but the reason is because those old tabernacle doors are often plated in gold, and they *visually distract* from the altar because of their material — not because of where they are. I suspect that one reason some people like the six large golden candle sticks is because they counteract the visual impact of the golden tabernacle door and draw attention to the altar, as is proper during Mass.

    Yes, it’s “small” things like this that contribute to a unified action that is the Mass.

  7. Our church has a Pugin altar against the wall of the apse, with a large central tabernacle that is clearly placed but not overly elaborate. There is a “throne” over the tabernacle for the display of the Blessed Sacrament in benediction.

    In 1992 a freestanding altar was installed, a copy of the Pugin – picture here. The new altar is massive and becomes the focus of attention, leaving the tabernacle in a place of honour and reverence but not creating a clash between altar and tabernacle. We have trained the altar servers that, when they are in procession and/or carrying things (candles, thurible, etc.) they should bow rather than genuflect when passing the tabernacle, and the clergy only genuflect thrice during the Mass, following the rubric. This means that the solemn Mass is conducted without constant bobbing up and down seen in more elaborate celebrations.

    What does create confusion is a tendency for servers and even extraordinary ministers of communion, when they are in the sanctuary, to genuflect each time the tabernacle is opened or closed; in some cases this means they are genuflecting before an empty tabernacle. I don’t see this genuflection in the rubrics – but please enlighten me if I’ve missed it – and it seems oddly “clericalist”, even superstitious.

    Apart from that, the arrangement works very well. When the church was opened in 1849, a Morning Post reporter wrote that “You enter at the very end of the church,and at once appreciate the merit of the design. The whole building is taken in at a glance; nothing distracts the eye or breaks the effect.” And this was before the sanctuary floor was raised; it is now about 1m higher than the floor of the nave.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #18:

      Jonathan,

      That is a beautiful looking sanctuary, and as you say, very well balanced.

      The new altar seem like it was added with much greater thought than in many places, which certainly helps greatly.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #18:

      Beautiful though the new altar at Farm Street may be, it is in fact a breakwater, a barrier behind which the priest and other ministers can take refuge, because it is simply much too wide.

      I think it was the architect Austin Winkley who first pointed out that when you no longer need either end of an EF altar to carry the Missal because everything done at those two ends is now done at the ambo, there is in fact no further need for the ends. The free-standing altar can then become more cube-shaped, and the impression of a barrier is diminished or removed altogether.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #26:

        Paul Inwood makes a good point about the altar in Farm Street Jesuit Church in London, a place I know well.

        It is precisely this arrangement that I would put into the category of the priest ‘squeezed’ in between an elaborate ‘reredos’ with tabernacle, etc, and an altar, artificially elongated so as not to disturb the overall aesthetic of altar, tabernacle and so on.

        From a ‘heritage’ point of view, it all looks fine. But at Mass, when the priest suddenly appears in front of the reredos and behind the altar, I find it looks suddenly peculiar. The focus is disturbed.

        I can’t remember now whether there is room in front of this new altar for a celebrant to stand and also genuflect. The General Instruction’s requirements imply that there should be enough space all around an altar on the level to walk round it.

        AG

      2. @Alan Griffiths – comment #37:

        Alan,

        Could you please expand on this? Peculiar how? You might be right, but I have not had that feeling with similar arrangments.

        On Paul’s barrier point, that seems inherent in any ad populum arrangement. I don’t really see why a narrow altar is better from that perspective.

        A smaller altar also runs counter to the whole idea that the altar should be a central symbol – If it is not large enough it will get lost even in a very sparse Church.

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #38:

        Maybe it’s just me (it often is!) but I think that the medieval combination of altar and iconographic reredos was a single piece, possibly developed on the idea of the Mass surrounded by the representational presence of Christ, the BVM and Saints, even relics or shrines, etc. This sort of arrangement was not decorative but iconographic.

        Then in the baroque the emphasis shifted to the Tabernacle, but still in express connection with the altar. In other words, clearly in the medieval reredos and differently in the later focus on the Sacrament you have a sort of locally realised eschatology, represented by a single object, namely, altar and surround.

        Simply to separate these elements as so many churches did in the 1970’s does not take the original unity into account. I think that to my eye (and I stress this might just be me) inserting a priest between these two hitherto conjoined elements disturbs the ‘iconography.’

        Some reorderings (and, worse, re-reorderings) retain (or replace) elaborate gradines, thrones, candlesticks and other ‘bondieuserie’ and then place an altar freestanding in front of all this. My eye goes straight to the elaborations behind and the focus on the altar is lessened.

        I want the altar to stand out as the primary visual symbol of Christ in the Church. Farm Street and many other reorderings try to keep things looking as much like they used to be as possible, but when Mass begins you immediately see that this is a false vision, when the priest goes behind the altar.

        Part of my thinking rests upon the fact that while very content with Mass in English, I have never been really comfortable with ‘versus populum’ celebrant’s position. I have been a priest for 40 years and in the last few years my acquaintance with the EF only makes me feel that discomfort all the more.

        I only wish I could be more articulate about this, and others will find me merely eccentric, but there it is – and I have run out of words….

        AG

      4. @Alan Griffiths – comment #78:

        Alan,

        Thank you for this – It was very interesting.

        I think what you might be reaching for, is that in a versus populum Mass, there is a real risk that the priest becomes the central symbol (rather than the altar etc).

        And I think there is some truth in that.

  8. In many parishes where I’ve worshiped, the tabernacle is both veiled and hiding behind a tastefully framed altar card that has the priest’s prayers for the entire canon printed on it. The congregation can only see it on the rare occasion that the reserve sacrament needs to be replenished or briefly during Holy Week, when they altar is stripped bare and the tabernacle door is left open. Does that layout address your concern, Nathan?

  9. The photo at the link is the parish where I work, Immaculate Conception in Glenville, NY. The Tabernacle that you see to the left of the altar used to be on the altar. This placement seems much better. (I was not working here at that time, I arrived not long after the move, which was upsetting to many.) This seems to work, but there are times when there is work going on in the church and people want to pray… at a time like that, a side chapel for reservation might not be so bad. It is not that often, but it does happen, and is also upsetting to those who come for prayer and silence.

    http://www.icglenville.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=188291553

  10. I noticed that this prelate’s academic credentials are extensive but are in areas of ecclesiastical and civil law. There is no evidence of any advanced work in the study of liturgical history and theology. This insufficiency is true of many bishops these days. It is an insufficiency that is very much in evidence in this document.

    It is rather clear that this prelate has cultivated a particular aesthetic and ascetic preference and has crafted this statement to serve as a rationalization for the imposition of his personal fashion sense on an entire diocese. To me it seems to be a very costly, if not also narcissistic, enterprise.

  11. Thanks, Fr. Jim. Has anyone actually read the 2007 Benedict Post-Syndol Exhortation that Paprocki cites and uses to justify and underline this decree?
    This reminds me of the kerfuffle around girl altar servers and Olmsted of Phoenix. After all the various documents, USCCB statements, and CDW approvals were found, you realize that Olmsted mis-interpreted or did not understand the basic rubrics and liturgical directives of the USCCB. (and he, of course, then passed the blame to his cathedral rector)
    Would suggest that Paprocki (he of the exorcism fame in strange fashion) has also mis-interpreted the basis of this statement.
    The Exhortation is roughly 97 paragraphs – it summarizes the synod on the eucharist and is actually a very beautiful and very VII document.
    Purpose/Goal of the exhortation –
    “…..endorse the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers by encouraging the Christian people to deepen their understanding of the relationship between the eucharistic mystery, the liturgical action, and the new spiritual worship which derives from the Eucharist as the sacrament of charity. Consequently, I wish to set the present Exhortation alongside my first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, in which I frequently mentioned the sacrament of the Eucharist and stressed its relationship to Christian love, both of God and of neighbor.”

    Out of all of this document, Paprocki has focused on one paragraph, #69, and would suggest that he has mis-interpreted it.
    Key sentence – “…the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. It is therefore necessary to take into account the building’s architecture: in churches which do not have a Blessed Sacrament chapel, and where the high altar with its tabernacle is still in place, it is appropriate to continue to use this structure for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist, taking care not to place the celebrant’s chair in front of it. In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament chapel close to the sanctuary.”

    All this kefuffle – even Benedict refers to the GIRM and the episcopal conferences on this issue – and yes, there is the throwaway final paragraph line that says the local bishop is the final word (that doesn’t mean the bishop can make just any ole liturgical decision).
    Like Fr. Jim – Olmsted and Paprocki are big into canon law but don’t appear to understand the first thing about liturgy or pastoral decisions. The Exhortation focused on the link between charity and the eucharist – do you see any of that (roughly 80 paragraphs) in Paprocki’s document??
    This is sad and reveals a bishop who is turning back VII Eucharistic theology and development. It is like someone who focuses on one side issue that is secondary and misses the complete assignment.

  12. All this kefuffle – even Benedict refers to the GIRM and the episcopal conferences on this issue – and yes, there is the throwaway final paragraph line that says the local bishop is the final word (that doesn’t mean the bishop can make just any ole liturgical decision).

    Old wisdom: Collegiality is key; power should be devolved from the mean old Vatican to leaders of local ekklesias.

    New wisdom: Centralized authority is paramount! Let’s forget about throwaway lines that pretend to devolve authority to the stupid old bishops.

    1. @Dwayne Bartles – comment #27:

      New wisdom: Centralized authority is paramount! Let’s forget about throwaway lines that pretend to devolve authority to the stupid old bishops.

      If you think Francis’s view of the competence and scope of the upcoming Synod is in tune with your new “wisdom”, I fear you are living in a completely unreal world. This pope is all about returning power to bishops and their conferences, as Vatican II mandated.

  13. Returning to Bishop Paprocki, he clearly has not read or digested the implications of Redemptionis Sacramentum 130, which reads as follows:

    “According to the structure of each church building and in accordance with legitimate local customs, the Most Holy Sacrament is to be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner” and furthermore “suitable for prayer” by reason of the quietness of the location, the space available in front of the tabernacle, and also the supply of benches or seats and kneelers. In addition, diligent attention should be paid to all the prescriptions of the liturgical books and to the norm of law, especially as regards the avoidance of the danger of profanation.

    [My emphases, footnote references omitted]

    Placing the tabernacle (back) centrally on a rear altar often does not fulfil all of these requirements and may in fact be the least suitable solution:

    (a) Those praying before the Blessed Sacrament are necessarily in the nave, which is often far from being “a quiet location” as well as a considerable distance from the tabernacle;
    (b) There is no space available for “pray-ers” in front of the tabernacle, much less “benches or seats and kneelers”.

    The document is clearly envisaging a quiet location where the faithful can gather to pray in front of and close to a tabernacle which has adequate space in front of it to place the necessary seats and kneelers — in other words, a dedicated Blessed Sacrament chapel.

    I have seen a very small number of sanctuaries which were long enough to provide adequate space in front of the old reredos altar to install benches and kneelers for prayer before the tabernacle without encroaching on the space required for moving and standing around the new altar, as well as suitable access for the faithful; but sanctuaries that are long enough to do this or which have the new altar far enough forward are rare.

    1. Paul,

      What about in modern designs, and some not so modern, where the altar is very close to the nave? This is the current best practice anyway, and with it your objection falls anyway.

      In terms of a quiet place suitable for prayer, if a nave does not meet these requirements, it seems to me you have bigger problems than the placement of the tabernacle.

      Also the nave indeed would generally be in fact better than a dedicated Blessed Sacrament chapel, in terms of space and seating, at most parish sized Churchs (larger Churchs, such as Cathedrals, are clearly different).

      BTW, nice to see someone pays attention to RS.

    2. @Paul Inwood – comment #28:
      Paul,

      In the United States many new churches have the tabernacle behind the main altar but then at the same time they have a small chapel on the other side of the tabernacle so that it’s both in the sanctuary and in a separate chapel. Either way, Redemptionis Sacramentum is not too specific about what this arrangement must look like. I could imagine that a church with altar rails and a tabernacle in the sanctuary would allow closer praying in front of the tabernacle.

      Ps. I’m glad that you have overcome you reservations about Redemptionis Sacramentum and all of its directives.

  14. Why not put a small tabernacle back on the altar? I cannot recall now, but I distinctly remember that one of the Consilium orders permitted a small tabernacle on altars designed for versus populum. Yes, I know this will block certain sight-lines of the holy Manual Acts. Forbid we not see every one of Father’s hand fasciculations!

    In all half-seriousness, I think this would be a very positive idea. A small tabernacle would hold just enough of the sacrament for the sick and for adoration. Priests would then need to hold to the admonition that just enough hosts should be consecrated for that particular Mass. With the tabernacle on the altar, there’s no need for a priest to walk to some other part of the church to find the sacrament, or even turn around.

    A small tabernacle on the altar (perhaps also with a crucifix facing the priest?[!]) will elevate minds beyond the momentary performance of a priest towards the everlasting mystery which supports the temporal and mundane.

  15. Jordan – had not added other thoughts but your proposal compels me to add:
    first, both RS and Benedict’s Exhortation in no way support or advocate for the end of Eucharistic chapels much less advocate for tabernacles on the table of the Lord. (again, this is a mis-interpretation by folks such as Paprocki)
    Second, your proposal flies in the face of both the Eucharistic theology and ecclesiology that VII developed.

    At the time of the Second Vatican Council the Church in the Constitution on the Church and the Constitution on the Liturgy and other documents (myth) changed its self understanding from “institution” to “People of God” (mythos). This change in self-understanding demands a corresponding change in Church ritual. Changing the ritual often involves changing the myth and destroying the mythos.

    Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue, standing for Communion rather than kneeling, kneeling for the Eucharistic Prayer rather than standing, holding hands, or extending hands in the orans position rather than folded hands during the Lord’s Prayer, moving the tabernacle from the center of the high altar — these are not just changes, these are ritual changes. Kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer, Kneeling for Communion, etc. one must know what the implications are when making ritual changes in these areas. When we discuss issues such as “hands during the Lord’s Prayer” (folded, holding hands, orans, etc.) we must realize we are not simply discussing an action, we are discussing a ritual action.

    “…..each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist our petition (epiclesis) at the Eucharistic Prayer asks the Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body of Christ and to change us into the Body of Christ. The words change depending on the prayer, but the point of the request is always the same: that we who feast on the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ! We must not limit our reverence and our concern so that they are directed only to the first part of the epiclesis (the change in the gifts, and the resulting presence of Christ in the Eucharist); we must follow through to the second part of the epiclesis (the change in us and the resulting concern for Christ in our neighbor).” (Focus on adoration alone draws our attention to the bread and can distract us from what happens to the Church (e.g. can tempt us to stop short at the first part of the epiclesis). It can cause us to focus on the object and Eucharist becomes a noun rather than a verb. One of the effects of a contemporary course on the eucharist is to broaden the understanding of real presence to embrace the real presence in the assembly and the word. And we all realize that the way we pray the Eucharist has changed radically in the past 50 years. This different experience of Eucharist leads to a different theology of Eucharist.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church – 1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent, outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

    The rubrics clearly state that: “The sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the eucharistic meal appears more clearly. The intention of Christ that the new and eternal covenant be ratified in his blood is better expressed, as is the relation of the eucharistic banquet to the heavenly banquet.” (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 1975, #240)

    “The nature of the sign demands that the material for the eucharistic celebration appear as actual food. The eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and traditional in form, should therefore be made in such a way that the priest can break it and distribute the parts to at least some of the faithful. The gesture of breaking of the bread, as the eucharist was called in apostolic times, will more clearly show the eucharist as a sign of unity and charity, since the one bread is being distributed among the members of one family.” ( #283 ) Rubrics have called for using the bread and wine consecrated at that eucharist (not from a tabernacle).

    The rediscovery of the Easter Sunday dimension of the Eucharist moves the emphasis from the bread and wine to the assembly. The primary change takes place in the assembly. The ultimate test, the final exam, if you will of our understanding of the eucharist is not whether or not we can explain transubstantiation, but wither or not we love one another, ourselves, creation, and yes, even our enemies. “As long as you did it to one of these… you did it to me…”

  16. In reference to my post at #31, the permission for a small tabernacle on a versus populum altar is found in Inter oecumenici §95 (AAS 56 [1964], 878-900).

    Licet Missam versus populum celebrare, etiam si in altari exstat tabernaculum, parvum quidem sed aptum.

    “It is permissible to say Mass facing the people even if a tabernacle rests atop the altar; certainly small, but suitable.”

    .

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #34:
      Jordan, is Jim right? Do you really believe that the main purpose of the mass is just to create more hosts for adoration?

      @Ann Olivier – comment #40:

      Ann, do you also think that the reason we have Mass is that we may have hosts to adore?

      1. Jim McKay #46: I do not mean to criticize either of these people, but I think they express the attitude you are looking for, that the hosts have priority over the Eucharistic offering.

        Stanislaus Kosala #49: Jordan, is Jim right? Do you really believe that the main purpose of the mass is just to create more hosts for adoration?

        Mass is, on one of its infinite theological and liturgical levels, about adoration of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. This aspect is certainly not the primary purpose of Mass, but is nevertheless always present. Mass is not, I emphasize, a host-making machine. A reduction of Mass to only adoration is a severe impoverishment.

        Let’s also revisit my original paragraph at #31:

        “A small tabernacle on the altar (perhaps also with a crucifix facing the priest?[!]) will elevate minds beyond the momentary performance of a priest towards the everlasting mystery which supports the temporal and mundane.”

        I was thinking ahead of myself a bit here. I propose placing a small tabernacle on an altar designed for versus populum merely to partially block the sight of the hand movements of a priest. The ability to more readily access the sacrament is a secondary and coincidental benefit. I am convinced that one of the great failures and hazards of the versus populum concept is an encouragement of an excessive emphasis on what the priest is doing (ritual performance) over the non-tangible or metaphysical aspects of eucharistic celebration which are independent of ritual performance. This latter position contends that versus populum’s excessive emphasis on performance obscures the eschatology of the Mass and also the conceptual adoration of the eucharist. I do not understand why the concrete nature of seeing the species being consecrated is at all important or relevant.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #55:

        Jordan, my apologies. You apparently posted your response while I was writing a comment to Stanislaus and I somehow missed it. Thank you for the response, I always learn something when you participate.

        Mysterium Fidei begins with a description of the liturgy:
        “In dealing with the restoration of the sacred liturgy, the Fathers of the Council were led by their pastoral concern for the whole Church to regard it as a matter of highest importance to urge the faithful to participate actively, with undivided faith and the utmost devotion, in the celebration of this Most Holy Mystery, to offer it to God along with the priest as a sacrifice for their own salvation and that of the whole world, and to use it as spiritual nourishment.”

        Seeing a priest’s actions is a help toward participating in the celebration, and keeps our attention on our allotted task, offering the Sacrifice along with the priest for our own salvation and that of the whole world. The ritual action is what endows the host with metaphysical and eschatological significance. That persists in the reserved host, but it is rooted in the action of Christ who is active in the celebration.

        Looking to the hosts for inspiration, instead of looking at the liturgical action, seemed to me the point of Stanislaus’ position. I dismissed the hyperbolic verbiage that exaggerated that into “just…for adoration”, and in no way intended to say that you believed that. I don’t even mean to criticize looking at the tabernacle to realize the metaphysical implications of the liturgy. It is just that the liturgy is the source of all the eschatology found in the consecrated host, not vice versa.

      3. @Jim McKay – comment #99:

        It’s okay Jim that you overlooked the post. I’ve learned a lot from the sub-thread.

        I affirm Mysterium fidei. I also agree with your last paragraph. I don’t understand “active participation” according to either the generally understood traditionalist or reformed positions. I consider the general understanding of active participation to sometimes favor concrete thought over abstract thought. I wonder if seeing the facial gestures and manual movements of the priest produces an undue attention to the incidental layer of the Mass rather than the eschatological layer.

        The question of concrete versus abstract thought is very fraught. There a is peril of falling into the trap that whether concrete thought is less valuable than abstract thought. This latter thought is untenable because all persons are capable of concrete and abstract thought simultaneously. Rather, I question if the newer liturgy, and in particular versus populum, hinders a balance between concrete and abstract thought. As you write, ” It is just that the liturgy is the source of all the eschatology found in the consecrated host, not vice versa.” This is entirely true, but I question the best way to live this realization.

        Jim, some time ago you mentioned that a new liturgy is necessary in the postwar period. I agree this is true also, so far as the medieval liturgy without revision probably could not and cannot challenge postchristianity. Still, I am troubled by the horizontal nature which the reformed liturgy can display, and I wonder if the reintroduction of some of the medieval liturgical practices might be an antidote to excessive horizontalism.

  17. Yet another “chief liturgist” with a poor understanding of liturgy, rearranging church designs for his personal preference. All this further weakens the understanding of Communion, which it seems in America at least, is a private prayer time during Mass. This kind of tinkering by one person should not be allowed. Shameful.

  18. This isn’t the first time I have heard people say that the freestanding altar at Farm Street is too large. I can see how some would object. I hope that a few comments won’t take us off topic.

    1) The new altar is slightly narrower than the original. It appears much larger because much of the depth of the old altar is taken up with the reredos, tabernacle, large candles, etc. I am guessing that the intent was to expose Pugin’s work – even in a copy – to the people.

    2) The church was designed, from the very start, to bring the liturgical action – especially the preaching – close to the people. The sanctuary is wide and shallow. The sight lines are extraordinarily good. Ministers standing behind the altar don’t look hidden.

    3) There is a lot of space (3 m perhaps) between the new altar and the old. I have seen churches where the ministers are “squeezed” between altars; that is not the case here.

    4) The entire church is graded, gently, upward toward the old altar and the tabernacle. Steps go from the nave to the floor of the sanctuary, then two steps to the level of the new altar, and another step to the level of the old one. This improves even on the good sight lines that the 1849 reporter noticed, and it creates a strong sense of ascent – not just for the ministers but also for the congregation. There is no sense of ‘barrier’ between nave and sanctuary, in part because the altar rail was never raised when the floor of the sanctuary was.

    5) The tabernacle and reredos are elaborate, but perhaps because they aren’t polychrome they tend to recede, visually, during a Mass. If anything might draw the eyes from the altar it is the mosaics of Christ and our Lady. But because of their height, this doesn’t happen, for me at least.

    All of these things combine to eliminate any sense of conflict between altar and tabernacle. But I can hardly be objective about this church!

    To Alan’s question: without structural changes it would be difficult for a priest to celebrate at the new altar, facing the apse. There is a step, but it is not deep enough to stand at. The building has several altars where such a celebration could take place. This isn’t one of them.

  19. It seems to me that the placement of the tabernacle is ultimately a theological/metaphysical/logical one. On the one hand we view the Consecration as the making present or calling down Christ into our midst. But we also believe that He is here already — in the tabernacle.

    As I see it, we have two choices: 1) do away with reserving the Sacrament or 2) somehow ritually show that there is the continuity or at least some sort of unity of Christ’s presence in both the tabernacle and on the altar. The contradiction/mystery of calling Him to us Who is already here needs to be made manifest somehow.

  20. I trust Jordan will note that the document he referred to about a small tabernacle on the altar of sacrifice was issued in 1964 while the work of reform was in its infancy. In the late 70’s I served a semi-circular church which had a side altar that faced a portion of the pews and at which daily Mass was celebrated. It had such a small tabernacle on it. Each morning before Mass I removed the Blessed Sacrament from that altar and reposed it on a very nice table perhaps ten yards away. This tabernacle had doors on the front and back so I would leave both doors open so that it was clear the reserved sacrament was not present. To have celebrated Mass at that altar in other way would have been ludicrous for me.
    This debate, as always, rehearses the contention between the “new” and the “old” ways of understanding and celebrating Mass with the people. Having been ordained in 1973, every parish I served has either had a contiguous and visible BS chapel or the Sacrament was reserved prominently but on a side altar. I have made my very best efforts to not over consecrate so as to build up deposits of the BS large enough to feed a small army. I have also used a large piece of bread that can be broken up into smaller pieces and distributed to some of the faithful. Whenever I see the archbishop or another priest use one of those private sized hosts I sigh and wonder “what are they thinking?”
    But for those who prefer the “old” ways no amount of reasoning seems to have any effect. So that leaves me with a wonderful 12 step axiom: Live and let live. I cannot change what others prefer or do. But I can make my best case.

  21. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard/read proponents of traditional practices seriously make any of the following claims:

    1. Why the Eucharist is just an object to be stared it, it’s not food and drink!
    2. The Eucharist has nothing to do with community, it’s just about me and Jesus.
    3. The purpose of the Mass is, of course, just to create more hosts that we can then adore.
    4. I never pay attention to the Mass, I just stare at the tabernacle the whole time, I just can’t help myself.

  22. Oh I also forgot:

    5. Yay! Father finally got that pesky tabernacle out of the way.I can finally focus on the Mass. I never even knew there were readings at Mass before!

  23. Stanislaus Kosala : Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard/read proponents of traditional practices seriously make any of the following claims: 3. The purpose of the Mass is, of course, just to create more hosts that we can then adore.

    comment #31 by Jordan Zarembo:
    A small tabernacle on the altar … will elevate minds beyond the momentary performance of a priest towards the everlasting mystery which supports the temporal and mundane.

    Comment 41 by Ann Olivier:

    we view the Consecration as the making present or calling down Christ into our midst.

    I do not mean to criticize either of these people, but I think they express the attitude you are looking for, that the hosts have priority over the Eucharistic offering.

    I would not be terribly surprised to find your other claims appearing in the present discussion.

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #46:
      Thanks, Jim, excellent points in response to Kosala’s snide list which attempts to cover up exactly what he is doing – dismissing VII statements about the eucharist and the next 10 years of decisions.

      Here is another example:

      #6 – “However, sound liturgical principles call for the altar, and not the tabernacle, to be the central symbol in any church. The restoration of the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary often overshadows the altar.
      Nathan, This is theory over reality. Having the tabernacle other than with the altar often distracts from the altar, as it creates a rival focal point in the Church.
      Repeating decades old nostrums, without regard to the experience in the meantime, does not equal sound liturgical principles.”

      It goes along with the original post of Paprocki’s announcement – “the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today.”

      Both of these *nostrums* convey the thinking that a tabernacle has to be a part of the altar despite 50+ years of both Vatican and USCCB documents that say something different based upon VII Eucharistic theology and ecclesiology.

      And both nostrums are personal opinions that don’t appear to hold much water – would say that it is extremely rare to not know or be able to find the tabernacle in a church; or the opinion that separate tabernacle and altar creates confusion. Talk about theory over reality or should we say – opinion over reality. And who is actually using a *nostrum*?

      Suggest that the Kosala list of statements can be answered best by what folks advocate for; want to turn back to; etc. rather than some type of *game* looking for a direct answer/statement to the list.

      And Lee Bacchi asks the relevant question that brings us back to Paprocki’s announcement…..as stated in #24 & #28, Paprocki appears to mis-interpret basic papal and VII and subsequent USCCB documents about the liturgy – from ars celebrandi to architecture. He cites one paragraph out of 90+ and completely misses Benedict’s focus to link eucharist and charity (pretty sure tabernacle placement has little to do with that)

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #48:
        Wow, you really have me pegged! Since you know me so well, could you produce quotes of mine where I deny a statement of Vatican II, or where I state that the tabernacle is more important than the altar?

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #48:

        Bill,

        Can you please try to express your point briefly? I know you disagree with me, but for the life of me I cannot understand what you are trying to say.

        How about this. Could you please state, in a couple of lines and with no block quoting of others, what principle of liturgical / Eucharistic theology or ecclesiology does having the tabernacle near the altar offend? I then might be able to sensibly discuss your objection.

        As an example, Nathan’s objection was that it somehow overshadows the altar as a central symbol of Christ. What is yours?

    2. @Jim McKay – comment #46:
      I think you’re mistaken about Jordan and Ann having the attitude that “the hosts have priority over the Eucharistic offering”. You’re going to have to do more than take those two lines and assert that, in them, that attitude is displayed. Connect the dots for me, at least.

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #52:

        Part of my point is that statements can be taken out of context and twisted to make a point. Perhaps Stanislaus did that by presenting a series of positions in out of context and misleading formulations, and perhaps I did it by quoting J and A.

        Jordan contrasts “A small tabernacle on the altar” with “the momentary performance of a priest,” as if the first and not the second connects us with the “everlasting mystery.” I am not sure what more needs to be said. How is that not substituting the host for the ritual action? What dots need connecting?

        Ann’s post is even clearer, as she provides a distinct contrast between the reserved sacrament and the ritual action, asking about their coexistence. There is no mention of the Eucharist as the realization of our salvation, just of its ability to make Christ present. Isn’t that the point that Stanislaus is asking about?

        As written, they do embody S’s third expression. I do not think either remark encompasses the whole of Ann’s or Jordan’s belief, far from it. But as bits of rhetoric, they answer Stanislaus’ question.

        If you can give me some idea of what dots you think are missing, I’m sure I could say more. 🙂

      2. @Jim McKay – comment #54:

        What is so misleading about my questions? Those are beliefs that are frequently ascribed to proponents of certain practices on this blog, are they not? I just want to know whether or not you (and others) have encountered people ascribing such beliefs to themselves among people who openly promote such practices.

        So far, all we’ve really gotten is something like this:
        person A: Those people believe X.
        person B: Do any of them actually say that they believe X?
        person A: Don’t be snide! You must be one of them!

        BTW, Pope Paul VI once made the following statement:

        “The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches.” (Credo of the People of God, Par. 26)

        Based on this quote, would you accuse him of believing that the tabernacle is more important than the altar? Or of believing that the purpose of Mass is to confect hosts for adoration?

  24. Why focus only on the placement of the tabernacle? Is that item the extent of the art of celebrating?

  25. I’m no expert on all the directives, etc. but when our pastor celebrates Mass and invites the congregation, during the penitential rite, to “say hello to Jesus” in the tabernacle (newly transferred from a small chapel to the sanctuary), I cringe. Something just “ain’t right.” He’s a Mundelein grad, by the way. Ann Olivier’s comment (above) is right on the mark.

  26. This discussion reminds me of a recent occasion when our bishop came to celebrate Mass in our parish and taught us that the reason we come to Mass is to adore Jesus in the Tabernacle.

  27. “We do not start by listing rules. The beauty of our church edifices, magnificent works of religious art and the graceful celebration of the liturgy, accompanied by harmonious music, inspiring homilies and the active participation of the faithful, are the foundational elements that attract people to the liturgy. Attention to the liturgical norms only comes after one has an appreciation for the art of the celebration.”

    So where are the suggestions/directives re the music, the graceful celebration of the liturgy (including presidential style), homilies, and active participation.? Or will these be included in further installments of the bishop’s pastoral statements? In his own words he states that “[N]orms (directives?) come after one has an appreciation for the art of celebrating.”

  28. A couple of years ago at my last assignment, a parishioner “donated” a video for children who were to receive their First Holly Communion. She bought it from an advertisement on a religious channel.

    The video had Jesus “popping” in and out of the taberbacle, like an infant’s peek-a-boo game. The video was trying to explain that’s where Jesus comes from. There was NO mention of the Consecration or of the Communal nature of the Liturgy; Jesus was only in the tabernacle. It never showed the priest at the altar.

    I thought the video was actually creepy, so we conveniently “lost” it. I just couldn’t get over the scene where the doors are open and this head immediately stares back at you.

  29. Can you give examples of people ascribing those specific beliefs to others?

    The problem is that these positions are usually presented in complex contexts, and discussions here are short and tend to simplify complex questions. When they get overlong, people complain.

    You wrote in #3 “The purpose of the Mass is, of course, just to create more hosts that we can then adore.” The use of “of course”, “just” and “that we can then adore” are all used to prejudice against the underlying principle “The purpose of the Mass is to create more hosts.” Setting aside some pragmatic liturgists here, not many people care about the multiplication of hosts, so even that description of the liturgy is somewhat misleading.

    I tried to refocus this on what I assume was your question, whether the ritual action is more important than the product of that action, the hosts. I did that in particular because I was thinking of Ann’s questions when I read your comments. This is an important question IMO, and should not be ignored because of the way it is presented.

    If I misread your comment, and you are really concerned about the “of course” or adoration, or something else, my apologies. Nor do I mean to misrepresent Ann or Jordan by saying they present the consecrated Eucharist as more significant than the Eucharistic ritual.

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #58:
      I’ll respond to you, but fist tell me, what you would you say about Paul VI’s belief concerning the Eucharist based upon the quote that I provided?

    2. @Jim McKay – comment #58:
      So are you saying that you deny that anyone actually accuses anyone else of holding any of the following positions:

      1. The product of the action(hosts) is more important than the action(liturgy) itself.

      2. The Eucharist is an object to be adored, and not an action, not food and drink.

      3. The tabernacle is the central symbol in a church (more important than the altar even)?

      (If no one is accusing anyone else of holding these beliefs, then I gladly withdraw my original question.)

      1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #62:

        I have no idea what you are trying to get at with your quote from Pope Paul. I have already quoted his first statement on the Eucharist in his creed, which makes the central point about the Eucharist. The rest is ancillary.

        I am not denying anything. I am asking for examples, so I can get some idea of what an example would look like. I cited two posts that I thought were good examples of one of the points you asked about, but you seem not to consider them as examples. So what would be a good example?

        And I am not sure “accuses” is a good way to describe people’s comments on these things. I may say that Jordan holds position #3, but that is not an accusation.

      2. @Jim McKay – comment #66:
        Perhaps accuse is too strong a word. Ascribe would be better.

        A good example would be someone explicitly saying that “I believe that what really matters in the Mass is that the sacrament is produced for adoration afterwards,” or that “I don’t focus on the liturgy itself, just on the tabernacle.” Does anyone actually ascribe this position to herself?
        Bill ascribes such positions to people, but he does not believe that those people actually have to express agreement with such beliefs for him to do so.

      3. @Jim McKay – comment #66:
        Ascribe would probably be a better term than accuse. As you see above, Jordan does not hold the position that you ascribe to him, and Bill is an example of ascribing my positions 1,2,3 to a huge swath of Catholics.

        My point with the Pope Paul quote is that it could easily be interpreted to express a deficient Eucharistic theology since he talks about the presence of Christ in the Mass as being extended through the reserved sacrament, and is silent on it being extended through the believers who have been fed and commissioned through the liturgical act (though we of course both know that Pope Paul did belief that Christ’s presence is extended in this manner as well.)
        Paul VI’s quote is a good example though of how even after Vatican II it is proper to speak of the reserved sacrament as the “living heart of each of our churches” and of us having not just the right but the duty to adore the host., without such talk conflicting with a renewed focus on the action of the assembly. Maybe Paul VI is the key here, regardless of where the tabernacle is placed, we should ask ourselves whether or not the placement makes it clear that the reserved sacrament in the tabernacle “is the living heart of each of our churches”, that the tabernacle is more than just a box for leftovers, or something that fulfills the devotional demand of a certain niche of believers. (Indeed, Paul VI expressed the hope that the liturgical reform would lead to a “new wave of Eucharistic devotion” which would sweep over the church.)

      4. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #76:

        Hmmm. I do not see that Jordan does not hold the position that I ascribe to him. I am not sure what you are referring to. Nor do I see that the remark he made is not an example of the position you described.

        The quote from Pope Paul is part of his creed of the People of God. If you take it out of context, the snippet is silent on some things, but those things are abundantly present when it is read in context. “The deep solicitude of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their griefs and efforts, is therefore nothing other than her great desire to be present to them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and to gather them all in Him, their only Savior.”

        That is part of my point, that these things, whether it is Paul VI or Jordan, have broader contexts. And I could not agree more with the assertion that it is important to talk of the reserved sacrament “without such talk conflicting with a renewed focus on the action of the assembly.” It is appropriate to point out when this conflict does happen, though you seem to think it never happens.

        The reserved sacrament is a great expression of the divine solicitude Pope Paul described. The Eucharistic feast we celebrate is available always for the sick and dying. It should never lose that character.

      5. @Jim McKay – comment #81:
        At the very least you have to admit that Jordan does not ascribe to himself the view that you ascribe to him. Hence, if he does hold that view, it is because he doesn’t realize that it is an entailed by another view that he does explicitly ascribe to himself. If you want to keep ascribing that view to him, you have to draw it out as an unintended implication of a view that he holds, you can’t just ascribe it to him without qualification.(I’m not saying that you yourself do this, I’m just giving it as an example).

        One reason that I find that Paul VI quote so interesting is that when he does get around to talking about the Church’s post-VII faith in the Eucharist, he places a huge emphasis on adoration of the reserved sacrament. It’s present even more strongly in Mysterium Fidei. For example:

        “the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories to serve as the spiritual center of a religious community or a parish community, indeed of the whole Church and the whole of mankind, since it contains, beneath the veil of the species, Christ the invisible Head of the Church, the Redeemer of the world, the center of all hearts, “by whom all things are and by whom we exist.”

        This doesn’t mean that the reserved sacrament can never compete with the assembly and that it is bad if/when it does, but the solution to this is to consider their relationship as a harmony. Too often the approach was to think of the liturgical act and adoration of the reserved sacrament as competing, as being in tension.

      6. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #91:

        I don’t really understand what you are saying about Jordan. If he wants to qualify his statement or repudiate it, that’s fine. But as it stands, it posits a tension, conflict even, between “the momentary performance of the priest” and the tabernacle that, in a strange twist, evokes the eternal in a way that is absent from the action that associates it with eternity.

        My only reason for objecting to some tabernacle placements is to preserve a harmonious relationship between liturgical celebration and adoration. Quoting Paul VI out of context does not really help, but continue your quote to the next paragraph:

        “Hence it is that devotion to the divine Eucharist exerts a great influence upon the soul in the direction of fostering a “social” love, in which we put the common good ahead of private good, take up the cause of the community, the parish, the universal Church, and extend our charity to the whole world because we know that there are members of Christ everywhere.”

      7. @Jim McKay – comment #96:
        I’m not going to speak for Jordan, though I don’t see how what you just said about him conflicts with what I said. It is not the case that he explicitly believes that the purpose of Mass is to produce hosts for adoration. Rather, you see an implication in one of his statements that he denies this implication.

        The only thing that I am trying to get across with the last quote from Paul VI is that I think that it’s implication is that any placement of the tabernacle (separate chapel, side chapel, behind/on/above the altar, etc) should make it clear that the reserved sacrament is the “spiritual center” of the community and the “living heart” of the church building and should be in a place that is of highest honor and nobility. Would you say that I am misinterpreting Pope Paul here based upon what he wrote in Mysterium Fidei and the Credo of the People of God, and that what he wrote there has no relevance for considerations concerning tabernacle placement?

  30. Pope Paul in now way privileges the host over the ritual. It comes after:

    “We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars.”

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #60:
      Great, because he then finishes paragraph 26 by saying:

      “And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.”

      Pope Paul makes only a brief mention of holy communion or of how the sacrament builds up the church. I’m glad that this doesn’t cause you to accuse him of denying Vatican II’s “radical shift of emphasis”.

  31. Stanislaus – let’s see….you have posted six times over the last 10 or so posts. *Me thinks one does protest too much*
    Keep trying to scurry around; changing the subject; using logical fallacies, and ultimately ignoring the original post and your own position.
    Original post – Paprocki’s ill-conceived announcement. Some of us have linked and provided actual documentation that indicates Paprocki either doesn’t understand the last 50 years of liturgical practice or is trying to turn the clock back based upon his own pre-VII Eucharistic understanding. Oh and to pick up on another comment – Paprocki underlines his case using his own incorrect opinion and *nostrums* that don’t hold up to scrutiny.
    Fact – we have 50 years of liturgical practice, experience, and development such that the church sees and encourages the value of a Blessed Sacrament chapel; that the tabernacle not be on the altar; and that the tabernacle does not become the focus during the community’s eucharist. (pretty direct and simple)
    Contrast that with Paprocki’s statement and what the actual experience would be if pastors did what he announced.
    You can try to ignore, deny, re-interpret, pull a fast one, or whatever but that is the stark difference.
    Sorry, my experience with your last three statements (1, 2, 3) is exactly what too many catholics do believe and act on – let’s avoid talking the talk and looking at walking the walk. (your Paul VI quote is pulled out of context, as usual, to reinforce your own opinion)

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #65:

      Bill,

      So you are not going to answer my question at #52? Or is your answer that the “tabernacle does not become the focus during the community’s Eucharist”, which is just a restatement of Nathan’s point which has already been addressed?

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #68:
        Have answered that question any number of times. Most folks here don’t want me to continue to repeat myself.

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #70:

        Bill,

        I don’t want an essay, just a one line indication of your objection.

        The objections I am aware of include “A separate eucharistic chapel promotes devotion to the Blessed Sacrament” (Todd seems to be coming from this angle) and “A tabernacle near the altar is a distraction during liturgical celebrations” (Nathan seems to be coming from this angle).

        Can’t your objection be summarised in a similar manner?

        I mean, you might have a very good objection. But if I don’t know what it is, how can I tell?

  32. In the long run, I think tabernacles in the main nave harm rather than help the encounter with Christ. Many believers have a difficult time with intimacy, and the actual work it takes to cultivate a relationship with God. Keep Christ form getting too close, and don’t bother me with taking the initiative to enter a second room at church.

    My problem with blown-up chapels and the preconciliar sensibility is not that they need to be stamped out in any way. I think they are too impoverished for Catholic spirituality.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #67:

      Todd,

      That is a non-sequitur.

      That “many believers have a difficult time with intimacy, and the actual work it takes to cultivate a relationship with God” is undoubtedly true.

      But what has it to do with the placement of the tabernacle?

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #71:

        Todd,

        Why does the tabernacle being near the altar make it far away?

        Like I said at #30 – “What about in modern designs, and some not so modern, where the altar is very close to the nave? This is the current best practice anyway, and with it your objection falls anyway”.

        And if the altar is far away, that is what should be fixed, not the placement of the tabernacle.

  33. @Bill deHaas – comment #65:

    Bill,

    I’m not going to bother responding to you anymore unless you stop accusing me of things without substantiating those accusations. (e.g. you say I make logical fallacies, but don’t point them out, you say that I misrepresent texts but fail to show how, you say I reject statements of Vatican II but won’t show where I do so, etc etc etc.)

  34. If this is the issue,
    “the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today”
    Then make the Tabernacle easily found. I’ve seen beautiful Churches where the Tabernacle is not center behind the Altar but a Catholic walking in there needs about three or four seconds to find it.

    It is when one walks in and needs to walk around to find the Tabernacle area (I won’t use the term Eucharistic Chapel) in a Catholic Church, then we miss a part of our faith practice. I hope though that the stress on the Ars Celbrandi is not referring to what is 99% of the time a private Eucharistic devotion.

    …that would be explaining the infield fly rule to a cricket player. Awesome analogy Fr. Barron.

  35. “I have never been really comfortable with ‘versus populum’ celebrant’s position.”

    Is this a variation on the discomfort other Catholics feel with the practice of adoration. My sense of the movements in the 60’s is that so-called versus populum has nothing to do with the priest, and everything to do with increased visibility and deeper perception for the laity. In other words, it’s not about the sacramental priest. It’s about Jesus Christ.

    I think we all realize that unskilled or narcissistic priests can make themselves the center of attention in any form. When I view TLM sites, the photos are inevitably full of clergy. The clergy who insist that they are required for Mass, not the laity: this kind of talk just underscores the performance aspect of the unreformed liturgy of 1962.

    “Why does the tabernacle being near the altar make it far away?”

    For traditional churches, especially large ones, it’s not just the distance, but the clutter. If having an altar near to the pews is a virtue, then what about the intimacy of a chapel where people can pray regardless of what’s taking place in the church: weddings, funerals, rehearsals, or even Sunday Mass?

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #80:

      For traditional churches, especially large ones, it’s not just the distance, but the clutter. If having an altar near to the pews is a virtue, then what about the intimacy of a chapel where people can pray regardless of what’s taking place in the church: weddings, funerals, rehearsals, or even Sunday Mass?

      Todd,

      OK, I see where you are coming from. I think the physical size of a Church is the key factor here.

      In a large Church, your position makes sense, whereas it does not in a smaller one. For example in my parish, despite their being a separate chapel, the Church as a whole is not big enough for it to really be used independently.

      This conclusion is reinforced by the tradition, which was larger Cathedral Churches get a separate chapel, whereas smaller parish Churches do not. I think this continues to be the right answer, with the decision being made based on the size of the Church in question (which may or may not map onto the Cathedral / Parish Church distinction).

  36. @ Todd Flowerday (#80): The clergy who insist that they are required for Mass, not the laity: this kind of talk just underscores the performance aspect of the unreformed liturgy of 1962.

    First, priests are kinda required in a Mass, otherwise it’s a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Holy Communion. No priest, no consecration, ergo no Mass. (Obviously the consecration is not the only part of the Mass, but it is a required part!)

    Second, you use the word “performance” as if it’s somehow a bad thing. There is a performative and ceremonial aspect to all liturgy; everyone has their particular parts to play, as it were. The post-conciliar rites as practiced (and in certain parts of how they were designed by the Consilium) do often minimise these aspects, and I certainly consider this to be damaging to them.

    My sense of the movements in the 60′s is that so-called versus populum has nothing to do with the priest, and everything to do with increased visibility and deeper perception for the laity.

    That may have been the original intention, but I think that decades of near-universal versus populum celebrations has had other, detrimental effects. Neither am I sure that “increased visibility and deeper perception for the laity” are net gains when one considers the losses that come with abandoning ad orientum.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #82:
      “First, priests are kinda required in a Mass …”

      I rest my case.

      “Second, you use the word “performance” as if it’s somehow a bad thing.”

      For a rite whose advocates vilify the modern Roman Rite, I intended the suggestion to point out what many perceive as a problem: narcissism is rather more widespread than some people think.

      “I think that decades of near-universal versus populum celebrations has had other, detrimental effects.”

      That was the same sort of thinking that got virtually all the world’s bishops to reform the 1570 Missal.

      If you ask me, worship in the round or with antiphonal seating is superior. I prefer neither the talk show priest or the back of showy vestments.

  37. You say: “Neither am I sure that “increased visibility and deeper perception for the laity” are net gains when one considers the losses that come with abandoning ad orientum.”
    What losses?

    Here we are in the 21st Century and for the last 25 years in the western half – US/Europe/English speaking conferences – we have seen roughly 1/3 of catholics cease Eucharistic participation.

    This had very little to do with what side of the altar the priest was on. Reality – the issue/quibble completely ignores or denies what exactly is happening. We have hundreds of bishops who just completely ignore that folks continue to walk out of the church.

    Performance – just love how you switch the argument. Many trads continue to hark back to clown masses and attention getting celebrants but, then, you argue that TLM is the *right* kind of performance. Fact – either OF or EF can be done *rightly* but reality is that EF is more like a *clerical opera* than the OF (if the ars celebrandi is done correctly). And, no, the post-conciliar rites as practiced where not designed by Consilium to minimize *performance* – that is only in your opinion. Have you never heard of the many OF experts who spent their lives on ars celebrandi for the VII liturgy – Walsh, Hovda, McManus, etc,, etc. Your statement is completely wrong.
    Finally, versus populum had had detrimental effects – such as what? Again, only in your opinion. Face it – EF robs the people of God of a substantial part of the presence of Christ in his WORD; it robs the people of their rightful place in serving ministries at the table of word and sacrament; it robs the people of God of the fullness of signs and symbols such as sharing in both body and blood; seeing the actions and words of both sacraments in their common language, etc.

    Nothing compares to this.

  38. @Bill de Haas (#83): What losses?

    * The loss of otherness. One of the visual downsides to versus populum is that the fact that when priest and people face one another, it can look like a mundane conversation between them, or a lecture or demonstration. There is no visual reinforcement of the fact that the priest is talking to God for most of the Mass.

    * The loss of a common direction of prayer. Priest and people, together, moving towards the Lord – this is certainly one sign disfigured, if not lost entirely, with celebration versus populum. And dare I suggest that ad orientem is more egalitarian than versus populum? – for, since all are facing the same direction, the priest’s belonging with the faithful is made more manifest.

    * The loss of the eschatological (and biblical!) symbolism. Dawn heralds the resurrection of Jesus (Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1). Jesus Himself declares that the Son of Man will return from the east (Mt. 24:27). And if the reformed rites are, as frequently claimed, much more biblically rooted, surely celebrating them facing east makes more sense?

    * The loss of an outward focus. Another of the visual downsides of versus populum is that it encloses the community in on itself – the ‘closed circle’. I’m not sure that, psychologically, that really helps a parish in its evangelism and outreach.

    * The ecumenical loss. The Eastern Churches have preserved ad orientem. The other great monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam, each orient their prayer in specific directions considered to be holy. Why did we abandon our orientation for prayer?

    * The historical loss. Versus populum severs us from our own liturgical and devotional history and tradition – though I gather some in recent times have considered this to be a desirable thing…!

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #84:

      Common Direction of Prayer: The reformed liturgy DOES have a common direction… we all face THE ALTAR.

      Symbolism: Really? Frequently claimed – as if the jury is still out? And besides, there are plenty of churches built prior to V2 that do not face east. The current parish I serve at is one example… it faces south.

      Ecumenical: There are a variety of churches that offer their service as we do. Of course we also worked to share certain texts with other denominations (Creed, Sanctus) but the Catholic Church has since taken their ball and gone home.

  39. @Bill de Haas (#83): [T]he post-conciliar rites as practiced where not designed by Consilium to minimize *performance*…

    Insofar as the primary, “normative” model for the reformed rites was not the pontifical Mass, I’m afraid they were.

    “All other forms [of the Mass], such as pontifical Mass, solemn Mass, Mass with a deacon, will be amplifications or further simplifications of this basic Mass, which is therefore called “normative”.” (Bugnini, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy 1948-1975 [Liturgical Press, 1990], p. 340

    The rest of chapter 24 in Bugnini’s Reform bears out the minimising work done in the reform of the order of Mass.

    EF robs the people… robs the people… robs the people…

    Gosh, say it ain’t so, Bill! How could the Church “rob” so many over the centuries? How did she i>ever manage to survive before Vatican-II-this and Vatican-II-that? (sarcasm off)

    Seriously though, this sort of pathological scorn and disdain for the rites of our forebears – and, by extension, the current rites of the Eastern Churches – is not at all healthy. Thankfully, due to the ministry of bishops like Bishop Paprocki, we are beginning to leave that sort of anti-historical ethos behind.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #85:
      Sorry, Matthew, you have mis-interpreted what Bugnini is saying (catch the fact that he is talking about a basic normative mass and then, using the older forms, Consilium will both *amplify* and *minimize*. (you conveniently missed both his point and half his statement)
      *Minimization* is in reference to the elaborate rubrics that the TLM had built up over the years.
      You dredge up the usual over-reaction – that those of us who cite reforms are passing judgment on all those folks who celebrated the eucharist before – as if we are passing judgment on them and that their sincere worship was therefore less. No one is stating that – but you.
      Sorry you don’t like my choice of the word *rob* – again, there is no pathology, scorn, or disdain (and the Eastern Church is off topic in terms of what we are discussing here – nice try and more of the usual meme). Pathology, scorn, and disdain is what I see, feel, and hear from the likes of the Paprockis in this world. Why don’t you stick to the original post – did Paprocki really interpret or understand what Benedict said in his post-syndol exhortation – no one will address that question? Wonder why?

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #89:
      And who is this comment directed at?
      Find comments such as #75, #76, #82, #84, #85 to fit a pattern.
      John O’Malley, SJ had an important article about this pattern – http://americamagazine.org/issue/article/misdirections

      Note his considerations in terms of the earlier post from Mannion that focused on Benediction and now Paprocki’s on tabernacles.

      Key points:
      – #4 – quote from VII documents in isolation and even worse, pick and choose quotes that can be skewed to say whatever
      – #5 – focus on VII documents by hierarchy rather than the chronological manner in which they were developed and approved (e.g. collegiality came before bishops)
      – #6 – ignore VII literary style – to which, they did not use or list ordinances – they persuaded (compare to Paprocki’s announcement)
      – #7 – ignore the context and what happened both before and after VII council (version of taking things out of context)
      – #9 – “…an emphasis in interpreting the documents of the council, this is correct and needs to be insisted upon. The problem arises when this principle is applied in a way that excludes all discontinuity, that is, all change. It is an absurdity to believe that nothing changed, nothing happened.”
      – #10 – “…principle is not so much about misinterpreting the council as it is about employing assessments to determine how the council will now be implemented and received. The principle is dangerous in anyone’s hands but especially dangerous in the hands of those who have the authority to make their assessment operative. In this regard “the party slogan” in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four hits the nail on the head: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” (think Paprocki’s announcement)

  40. @Bill deHaas (#88): You dredge up the usual over-reaction – that those of us who cite reforms are passing judgment on all those folks who celebrated the eucharist before – as if we are passing judgment on them and that their sincere worship was therefore less. No one is stating that – but you.

    Forgive me, but I’m not sure in what other sense anyone could possible take your words in #83. To wit: EF robs the people of God of a substantial part of the presence of Christ in his WORD; it robs the people of their rightful place in serving ministries at the table of word and sacrament; it robs the people of God of the fullness of signs and symbols such as sharing in both body and blood; seeing the actions and words of both sacraments in their common language, etc. If there’s so much theft involved in the EF, then surely it pales in comparison to the OF? How can those who attend the EF possible come close to the superior experience the OF (apparently) offers?

    (#87): The usual memes – and all opinions with no evidence.

    And the usual perfunctory dismissal from you, I see.

    Well, I’m going to bow out of this thread – there seems precious little point in continuing this ‘discussion’. No wonder there’s a hint of frustration in comments #74 and (esp.) #75 above!

  41. Many in this thread have used terms such as “liturgical principles” and “best practices” but fail to acknowledge that the placement of the tabernacle behind the altar is a legitimate option. Nowhere in the liturgical documents does it say that it “should not”.
    We would be better serviced by liturgists if they were honest about their opinions. I have greater respect for someone who simply says “I don’t like this” than someone who tries to manipulate liturgical documents to prove an unfounded point.
    Pax.

    1. @Al Gonzaga – comment #98:
      Legitimate option -well, re-read Building Living Stones and the various bishops who have customized to their respective dioceses.
      Your statement leaves out both the context and the other considerations that need to exist before a parish or bishop approved a tabernacle behind the altar e.g. existing, older church with a wall altar; that space and attention be such that the altar stands clear and the eucharist can be celebrated without the tabernacle drawing undo attention, etc.

  42. Jordan —

    That a thought is abstract doesn’t imply that the thought can’t signify something real. In fact, every time we use a common noun or adjective (e.g., man, cup, mysterious, love) we’re using abstract thought to signify something real. So what’s the problem with some abstractions? I say that sometimes they’re too generic, not filled with enough meaning, to signify the very concrete individuals we want to say something about.

    This is why I sometimes have trouble with the word “love” — it’s extremely abstract and doesn’t tell us what kinds of love are being spoken about. (Nevertheless, it’s always a powerful word.)

    Maybe I make this point too often, but it seems to me that it’s the poet’s who know best how to make the abstract more concrete by their uses of words. And other sorts of artists, each in his own way, do the same thing. (Think Bach!)

  43. It seems to me that this thread is making it clear that the problem of placement of tabernacles, while it is a very practical one, is more importantly a theological one. “What is a tabernacle for?” is a question at least partly about the practicality of keeping Hosts on hand. But “What does a tabernacle containing the Lord contribute to people’s awareness of God-in-the-world?” and “What does Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle *symbolize*? are theological ones, ones which seems at odds with “What is the Mass?”, “What is the Mass for?” and “What does it symbolize?”
    I think that private Adoration of the Lord in the tabernacle is simply too popular to ignore theologically. It obviously has great spiritual value for many of the Faithful.

  44. Ann,

    Thank you for these questions. I would take it a step further in light of Stanislaus’ earlier observation that adoration and celebration, the tabernacle and Mass must harmonize, not be in conflict. So how do we reach that point?

    My answers to your questions are not at odds with one another. The presence of The Lord in the tabernacle symbolizes the redemptive act of God that is made present in the celebration of the Eucharist. Christ is present ‘in’ the tabernacle only because of the action in the Mass and is not independent of the liturgy.

    Stanislaus, that is what I think is limited in your quotes from Pope Paul. They address adoration and the tabernacle, but the context Pope Paul gave them is missing. The identity of Christ, who gave himself for us and so left us an example, is not touched on in most of what you quoted. The tabernacle is the “living heart” of the community when that example is the community’s life, when Christ’s Spirit is present in the actions of the people. That is, I think, the point of Mysterium Fidei and Paul’s Credo.

    I have to say, when I first read the article about Springfield I expected this discussion to be about architecture. Some buildings were designed around the altar-with-tabernacle as the clear focus. Separating the two, as implicitly recommended by the GIRM, poses a problem for that architecture. It is a concrete problem, though this discussion has been very abstract. (I prefer working with abstraction to working in concrete.)

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #4:
      Jim,

      The reason that I only used quotes that refer to adoration of the reserved sacrament is precisely because I take those to be most relevant to the issue of tabernacle placement. I take one of the main concerns of the Credo of the People of God and of Mysterium Fidei to be certain theological trends that had emerged immediately after the Council that in some instances questioned its value and in others questioned its validity.
      I realise, of course, that it is impossible to understand the presence of Christ in the reserved sacrament without understanding the celebration of the Eucharist, and that it is impossible to understand the Eucharist without understanding the action and identity of Christ. The reason why I highlighted those quotes from Pope Paul (or at least the reason that i’m highlighting them now) is that:

      1. A certain attitude toward tabernacle placement emerged after the council which was animated solely by the following assumptions:
      a. the tabernacle is primarily for making the sacrament available to those who cannot be present at the Sunday Eucharist.
      b. for the private prayer of those faithful who are attracted to a particular devotion.

      2. I take the attitude in 1 to be challenged by what we see in Mysterium Fidei and the Credo of the People of God, both of which speak of adoration of the reserved sacrament as playing a vital role in the life of the community.

      3. My argument is that whether or not one adopts the attitude expressed in 1 or 2 will influence greatly how one responds to the question of where the tabernacle should be placed.

  45. Jordan,

    I am very suspicious of the non-horizontal. Without an openness to those around us, we drift farther into ourselves. Our intent may be toward God, but God came as a human to show us the Way.

    The timing of VII demanded an accent on fraternité, solidarnosc, community, the most horizontal values there are. These were needed, and are still needed IMO. Anything that takes us away from building peace among us, even if it intended toward God, is a threat to the Church, and to the whole world.

    But the reason I quoted Pope Paul was to emphasize that this is needed for the days of VII. Perhaps another time has come.

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