Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Catholic Standard and Times - Keeping Christ in the center of our lives and our churches

From the Catholic Standard and Times - Keeping Christ in the center of our lives and our churches. A very pertinent story, particularly today. I quote it in part.

by Lou Baldwin and Michelle Johnson

In his first pastoral letter as Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali asked pastors to consider placing the tabernacle in the center of the church behind the main altar if it was not already there and if individual circumstances made such a move feasible.

On Sunday, March 4 at the Cathedral of S.S. Peter and Paul, the Cardinal led the way and made the mother church of the Archdiocese an example to all when he blessed a brand new tabernacle which has been relocated from a side altar to the center of the Cathedral’s sanctuary where it is visible by all.

The tabernacle has been placed on a ledge which is part of a luminous new reredos, a freestanding “screen” erected a few feet behind the main altar. Amazingly, it looks for all the world as if it has been there ever since the altar itself was installed 50 years ago.

“Cardinal Rigali has been telling everyone they should keep Christ in the center of their lives, and what better way to do that than to keep Him in the center of our churches also,” said Louis DiCocco, president of The St. Jude Shop, which was responsible for the new tabernacle, reredos and matching candlesticks.

The Cardinal was clearly moved by the event. In his homily, he told the Cathedral’s parishioners, “Our hearts are filled with joy to celebrate this great event, and once again in a very special way to express our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle. ...[W]e honor the presence of Christ truly and substantially in the Eucharist which we have enthroned in this beautiful new tabernacle that expresses our holy Catholic faith.”

The whole setting is breathtakingly beautiful. The reredos, executed in marble, exactly matches the half-century old altar. That’s because it was executed in Pietrasanta, in the Tuscany region of Italy, with marble obtained from a quarry in the same area as the original altar marble, and a perfect match was found.

Design elements include pilasters which mirror similar Corinthian pilasters and capitals on the altar. Rising above the tabernacle is a niche with an interior facing of white gold and gold tiles, a fitting backdrop for a gold crucifix with an ivory corpus.

The large tabernacle is adorned with gold pilasters and dome, which, similar to the repository of the holy oils in the Cathedral’s shrine to the priesthood, reflects the architecture of the 19th century cathedral. Crafted in Spain, “it is brass, hand gold-plated, one of a kind,” DiCocco said.

[To read the rest, click the link above.]

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