Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Altar

A Catholic church cannot be a church without an altar. This is where the Holy Sacrifice takes place. This is where the host is transubstantiated into the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians, and it is at Mass where we see the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
What then should be the primary visual focal point in the sanctuary?  The altar!
Making the altar a dignified and awe-inspiring element of the sanctuary helps us to achieve a greater sense of reverence concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
How should an altar be decorated? The answer, truly, is not at all. However, an altar may and should be “vested” just as the priest is vested appropriately for Mass. A traditional way of creating a “vestment” for the altar is the antependium or frontal.
For some very good commentary, photos, and explanations, see these links at The New Liturgical Movement blog:
Here are a few photos of antependia created by a non-professional.

At Our Lady of the Valley, in La Grande, Oregon:

At St. Anthony's in North Powder, Oregon

Here are some examples of inappropriate "vesting" of the altar.
In the first photo, we see the altar being used primarily as a backdrop for a nice floral arrangement. Which is more important: the altar or the flowers?! This treatment puts the altar in second place. 

This was a misguided attempt to create some sort of shrine for the feast of All Souls. It looks particularly incongruous with the reredoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment