Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Architecture

Pic of a brand new church. It's St. James Catholic Church in West Virginia and built for the Church's growing population - at 3,400 now. Read more here (thanks Amy).
Times are obviously changing. I couldn't make out a high altar and looks as though the tabernacle is in the centre. Now don't go raging into a debate just yet about where the tabernacle should be placed. I'm doing a little research on the side and may present something shortly on central tabernacle vs. side tabernacle (on a side altar or the like).


Anonymous said...

Does it have more to do with architecture? Meaning that the tabernacle is no longer in the centre because of the removal of high altars?

aaron said...

It's a debate about where the tabernacle should be traditionally. Whether they should be on the high altar or simply on a side altar. The argument has to do with multiple signs. Ie. Crucifix, tabernacle, altar stone, elevation..

elderly_relative said...

A few thoughts on the location of tabernacles. When on high altars, they have a way of cluttering up any liturgical action with constant genuflections. You end up being distracted between the respect due to the Blessed Sacrament reserved and attention due to the gifts being freshly consecrated.

There is, as Aaron says, a confusion of signs too. In such circumstances, are we genuflecting to the altar, the tabernacle or the altar cross?

The mediaeval Dominicans regarded genuflection as an aberrant custom and to this day prefer to bow to altars, even ones with tabernacles in which the B.S. is reserved.

Against the arguments for making the eucharistic presence the pivotal point in the church's arrangement is the consideration of having people in the sanctuary avoiding turning their backs to it in rites such as confirmation and ordination.

My preference, for what it's worth, is having a dedicated chapel in a position of honour but to one side, like the 1400s German Sacramenthausen.

Eucharistic devotions outside mass are OK, but neither they nor the fact of reserving the sacrament are more important than the sacrifice itself, which is the main event. The Host was intended primarily to be reverently consumed rather than waved about or visited in chapels of repose.

If we use antiquity as our guide, then tabernacles, on or off the high altar, are a late mediaeval development, and there's much to be said for the Sarum hanging pyx or the aumbrey, recessed into the sanctuary wall on the gospel side.

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