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Tabernacle Placement

Where should the tabernacle be placed in a Catholic Church?   90 votes

  1. 1. Where should the tabernacle be placed in a Catholic Church?

    • On the main altar.
      78
    • On a side altar or chapel.
      11
    • In another room separate from the main "worship space."
      2

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80 posts in this topic

Posted

[quote name='Dave' date='Jun 22 2004, 06:16 PM'] Wait a minute ... it IS allowed! Where'd you get that quote that the tabernacle must never be on the main altar and always on a side altar or elsewhere? [/quote]
It would make sense to move the Cup of Salvation and the other .. (instruments?) off the altar after mass and put it safe.

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Posted (edited)

[quote]Wait a minute ... it IS allowed! Where'd you get that quote that the tabernacle must never be on the main altar and always on a side altar or elsewhere? [/quote]

I'm sorry, I forgot to put the citation in. The quote is from the GIRM....now I have to find it again....its no. 315.

However, that doesn't mean that it has to be on a side altar, only that it can't be on the one on which Mass is celebrated.

The rest of no. 315 states:

[quote]Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop,

Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. above, no. 303);

Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful's private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful.
[/quote] Edited by p0lar_bear

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Posted

It doesn't say that having it on the main altar isn't allowed.

Read this article from EWTN:

The Vatican II document which addresses this issue is "Sacrosanctum Concilium" (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). Issued December 4th 1963, it emphasizes the nobility of the tabernacle in determining its place in a church.

128. Along with the revision of the liturgical books, as laid down in Art. 25, there is to be an early revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provision of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy and well planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the nobility, placing, and safety of the Eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the baptistery, the proper ordering of sacred images, embellishments, and vestments. Laws which seem less suited to the reformed liturgy are to be brought into harmony with it, or else abolished; and any which are helpful are to be retained if already in use, or introduced where they are lacking.

According to the norm of Art. 22 of this Constitution, the territorial bodies of bishops are empowered to adapt such things to the needs and customs of their different regions; this applies especially to the materials and form of sacred furnishings and vestments.


After the Council the body entrusted with implementing this conciliar decree issued the following guidance, which emphasizes the respect and honor due to the Eucharist, especially as the sacrament of the Lord's presence in the midst of His people.

7. An issue closely linked to that of the altar is the tabernacle. We can hardly give here prescriptions of a general and uniform character. An attentive study needs to be made in each case, with due attention to the material and spiritual circumstances proper to each place.

Artists will little by little suggest the best solution. But it is the business of priests to advise them and call attention to the principles that must safeguard the respect and honor due to the Eucharist. It is important to contribute to the development of Eucharistic worship, which should continue under all those genuine forms recognized by the Church as embodying true Christian piety.

Particularly in larger churches, a chapel specially set aside for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist is advisable and might well be used for the Eucharistic celebration during the week, when there are fewer of the faithful participating.

Whatever the solution chosen .... the greatest care should be devoted to the dignity of the tabernacle. If the local Ordinary agrees to its location away from the altar, the place should be truly worthy and prominent, so that the tabernacle is readily visible and is not hidden by the priest during the celebration of the Mass. In a word, the location should make it possible for the tabernacle to serve unmistakably as a sign and to give a sense of the savior's presence in the midst of his people. (my emphasis) [Letter of Cardinal Lecaro to the Bishops, 30 June 1965, Concilium for Implementing the Decree on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council)


In 1969, revised in 1975, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) said the following:

276. It is highly recommended that the Holy Eucharist be reserved in a chapel suitable for private adoration and prayer. If this is impossible because of the structure of the church or local custom, it should be kept on an altar or some other place in the church that is prominent and properly decorated.

277. The Eucharist is to be kept in a solid, unbreakable tabernacle, and ordinarily there should be only one tabernacle in a church.



The Code of Canon Law codified these developments in 1983.

Canon 938

º1. The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved regularly in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory.

º2. The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved should be placed in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

º3. The tabernacle in which the Eucharist is regularly reserved is to be immovable, made of solid and opaque material, and locked so that the danger of profanation may be entirely avoided.

º4. For a grave cause, it is licit to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist in another safer and becoming place especially during the night.

º5. The person who has charge of the church or oratory is to see to it that the key of the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is safeguarded most diligently.


Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1183 The tabernacle is to be situated "in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor." The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.


One evident difficulty seems to arise in connection with 1) having a chapel of reservation and 2) complying with canon 938, 1. In some places it seems there is a tendency to read these in an absolutist sense not found elsewhere. By that I mean, if anywhere within the external walls of the church building there is a chapel of reservation then the law is satisfied and furthermore there cannot be a tabernacle in the main church. It is my experience that this interpretation does not prevail in other places, least of all Rome. When the chapel of reservation is at the front end of a side aisle of a church, or prominently off of a side aisle (i.e. so that it is truly prominent and conspicuous from the main body of the church) then it will contain the only tabernacle in the church building. It is also thereby convenient for prayer and for retrieving and reserving the Eucharist at the time of Mass.

However, when there is a Eucharistic chapel that is not so prominent and conspicuous from the main body of the church, even though it be in the same church building, there will also be a tabernacle in the main body of the church serving as a sign of the Lord's Presence there. This can certainly be verified by a visit to Rome's many churches.


Ultimately, complying with the mind of the Church on the placement of the tabernacle rests with the bishop. As the Concilium letter noted, it is impossible to make universal law for all the particular circumstances of construction that may occur. Even though it is within the authority of the bishop, the laity certainly have a right to make their desires known to him. Considering the loss of faith in the Real Presence that is evidenced by recent polls of Catholics and the obligation to foster adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, it would seem opportune to suggest to our pastors that the time has come to return the Tabernacle to a truly prominent place of honor in the main body of the Church. Some bishops have already concluded this and are doing it.

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Posted

And now something from Adoremus Magazine:

Guidelines for Church Architecture
Built of Living Stones

The new guidelines reflect the bishops' extensive discussion last November.
Tabernacle placement

Bishop Raymond Burke (La Crosse):

…My immediate objection to the proposed text (lines 615 to 628 on page 169), is that it does not respect the directive of the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which specifies that the tabernacle be located in the sanctuary or in a special chapel. The proposed text extends the possible location to include the body of the Church. Locating the tabernacle outside of the sanctuary, unless of course there is a special chapel, in my judgment, conveys the wrong message about the reserved Sacrament. I'm not much comforted in my concern by the amended text, which suggests placing the reserved Blessed Sacrament in a place where there was formerly a side altar, or in some other devotional space.

On a deeper level, I am confused by the suggestion in the proposed text that the placement of the tabernacle in the sanctuary in close visual relationship with the Altar of Sacrifice distracts from the Eucharistic celebration and its components. I refer especially to the recommendation that "distance, lighting, or some other architectural device" be used to separate the tabernacle and reservation area during Mass.

I am unable to find in our liturgical tradition, apart from the practice in some places over the past thirty years, this insistence on distancing visually the reserved Sacrament from its origin in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Such insistence does not seem to have been the mind of the Second Vatican Council, for the post-conciliar liturgical norms on the placement of the tabernacle made every effort to keep the tabernacle on the altar of Sacrifice or very near to it.

In most churches which do not have a Eucharistic chapel, it is important to locate the place of the reserved Sacrament in proximity to the Altar of Sacrifice in order to keep clear the essential relationship of Christ's abiding presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament after He becomes present for us through the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

The reserved Sacrament is also a constant witness to the profound reality of the Eucharistic Sacrifice through which Christ faithfully renews the outpouring of His life for us on Calvary.

Whatever the intent of the text in question, we must honestly recognize that it will be used to confirm and further the unfortunate, in my judgment, recent practice of removing the place of the reserved Blessed Sacrament outside the sanctuary.

At a time when we witness a loss of faith in the Holy Eucharist and a corollary loss of love of the Blessed Sacrament, it is especially important, I believe, to express clearly our faith by the place given to the tabernacle.

Therefore, I ask that the text state clearly that if there is not a special Eucharistic chapel the tabernacle be placed in the sanctuary in a place and manner which manifests the relationship of the reserved Sacrament to the Eucharistic Sacrifice represented by the altar. Thank you.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


From: ADOREMUS BULLETIN,
VOL. VI, No. 9 - December 2000 - January 2001

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Posted (edited)

[quote]It doesn't say that having it on the main altar isn't allowed.[/quote]

First, as I said, this is with the assumption that the "main altar" is the one on which Mass is celebrated.


[quote]It is more in keeping with its meaning as a sign, that the tabernacle in which the Most Blessed Sacrament is reserved [i]not be on the altar on which Mass is celebrated[/i].

Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop,

Either in the sanctuary, [i]apart from the altar of celebration[/i], in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. above, no. 303);

Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful's private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful. (GIRM, no 315, emphasis added).[/quote]

This statement was approved by the Conference of Bishops and the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

None of your quotes contradict that directive. You are merely repeating that is should be in a prominent place. I am not arguing that it shouldn't be in a prominent place, only that the prominent place should not be the altar on which Mass is celebrated, in accordance with GIRM no. 315.

Perhaps you are misinterpreting my intent....? Edited by p0lar_bear

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Posted (edited)

The tabernacle and the altar are intrinsically bound together as a single reality, and so to separate them is imprudent and theologically problematic. Pope Pius XII pointed this out in an allocution he delivered before the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy in September 1956; in that address he noted that there was a ". . . lessening of esteem for the [i]presence[/i] and [i]action[/i] of Christ in the tabernacle," and he went on to say that, "The sacrifice of the altar is held sufficient, and the importance of Him who accomplishes it is reduced. Yet the person of our Lord must hold the central place in worship, for it is His person that unifies the relations of the altar and the tabernacle and gives them their meaning. It is through the sacrifice of the altar, first of all, that the Lord becomes present in the Eucharist, and He is in the tabernacle only as the [i]memoria sacrificii et passionis suae[/i]. [b]To separate tabernacle from altar is to separate two things which by their origin and their nature should remain united[/b]." [Pope Pius XII, "Allocution to the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy," from the book, [u]Papal Teachings: The Liturgy[/u] (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962), page 514] In the Eastern Rites, the tabernacle, normally shaped to look like a Church building or a tomb, is always on the altar of sacrifice, for Christ is the focus of our worship, and to separate His presence in the tabernacle and His presence upon the altar of sacrifice is to divide that which is, by its very nature, indivisible. It should be noted that prior to the 1970s, this was the common tradition of both East and West. Edited by Apotheoun

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Posted

If we still celebrated ad orientum (which is perfectly licit) we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Oh well.

peace...

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Posted

[quote name='PedroX' date='Jun 22 2004, 11:49 PM'] If we still celebrated ad orientum (which is perfectly licit) we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Oh well.

peace... [/quote]
You are correct. The Eastern Rites continue the nearly 2,000 year old tradition of having the priest face east during the Eucharistic sacrifice.

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Posted

At my church, the tabernacle is in a separate side-chapel area, but it is still visible to the whole congregation in the church. I like it this way. When at Mass, everyone is still reminded of Christ's presence in the Eucharist when seeing the tabernacle, but at times when I can pray alone in the chapel, I love being somewhat enclosed, kneeling in front of the tabernacle. I am blown away at my intimate time with Jesus when I pray like this.

Sigh... Catholicism is awesome!!!

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Posted

[quote name='Apotheoun' date='Jun 23 2004, 01:57 AM'] You are correct. The Eastern Rites continue the nearly 2,000 year old tradition of having the priest face east during the Eucharistic sacrifice. [/quote]
I just wish they still faced Versus Deum more. :( :sadder: :sadder:

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Posted

If it was up to me, I would make sure that every single Catholic parish had a beautiful high altar with the tabernacle built into it. That way the tabernacle would be front and center!

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Posted

Hi,
The question should read, "Where should Jesus be placed in a Catholic Church which is the house of God?. Follow up questions: Is Jesus Christ God, OR, Is the Eucharist God?

John

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Posted

Welcome, brother.

Eucharist = Jesus Christ = God made flesh. ;)

Pax Domini,
Ben

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Posted (edited)

[quote name='john654' date='04 May 2010 - 07:15 AM' timestamp='1272975348' post='2104765']
Hi,
The question should read, "Where should Jesus be placed in a Catholic Church which is the house of God?. Follow up questions: Is Jesus Christ God, OR, Is the Eucharist God?

John
[/quote]

The Eucharist is substantively Christ; and Jesus is "consubstantialem Patri". I'm not sure what you mean by the exclusive phrasing of the follow-up question you suggested... Edited by Veridicus

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Posted

I think HE should be front and center, also! But I have to admit that I was very surprised that He was in a side altar when I visited St. Peter's. But then I was glad because I got to pray in there and He was treated appropriately with all of the tourists. But there is nothing I hate more than when the Tabernacle is in a room, down the hall, away from the Altar. Yuck!

Katherine

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Posted

If,

Eucharist = source and summit of our lives;

given that

Summit = Top, pinnacle, most important, most easily visible part of a mountain;

then

Eucharist = Front and center, most easily visible, most important thing in the room!

Don't go sticking Him in a corner. That's just uncool. :no:
Lil Red likes this

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Posted

When I walk into a Church I look for the Tabernacle to be at the front and in the center. You don't shove the King of Kings into a dusty corner to be ignored. You place Him in splendor where he can be properly knelt to and worshiped.

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Posted

[quote name='BG45' date='21 May 2010 - 12:27 PM' timestamp='1274466450' post='2114743']
When I walk into a Church I look for the Tabernacle to be at the front and in the center. You don't shove the King of Kings into a dusty corner to be ignored. You place Him in splendor where he can be properly knelt to and worshiped.
[/quote]
I agree.

Besides, according to tradition the tabernacle is always supposed to be placed upon an altar.

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Posted

Our parish has the Tabernacle off to the side, as it's shared with the Day Chapel. (Which ironically has the Tabernacle front and center.)

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