Friday, January 30, 2015

The Altar During Lent

Lent is approaching, and that means changes for the altar. However, it is good to keep in mind the following for the change of the liturgical season.

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. During Lent, the altar should not be decorated with flowers. Violet, of course, is the liturgical color to be employed.

Here is an example from St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, OR:

For some very good commentary, photos, and explanations, see these links at The New Liturgical Movement blog:

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