Monday, August 18, 2008

More altar arrangements

I am always encouraged when I am sent in further examples of the re-arrangement of the altar cross and candles into a traditional Roman ordering (what we have come to refer to as "Benedictine" in reference to Pope Benedict XVI and his practice of doing this upon an altar where the priest is versus populum), because it is a sign of the spread and growth of this practice.

Of course, whensoever I mention this, I am also always desirous to point out a few things so that we might all keep the vision and purpose of this in mind.

One is that we should always understand this as part of a greater process leading back toward the greater practice of the traditional and symbolic expression of ad orientem liturgicum, where the priest and people face a shared, common, sacred direction, symbolic of our mutual turning towards the Lord.

I would also want to note that parish priests should not presume they could not begin with ad orientem liturgicum in at least some of their parishes Masses, either immediately, or very shortly after adopting this ordering. As for the other Masses, adopt this altar ordering, for all of our Masses, for the sake of the faithful and the priest, need to be re-oriented.

The final thing I would mention is substantiality. The altar cross and candles should indeed be substantial; not so substantial as to create a "brass reredos", but with enough verticality to the cross, candlesticks and candles, that it makes clear the orientation of the liturgy and the focus of the priest and the faithful during the sacred mysteries. The Pope has provided a good model in this regard.

With all that said, here are a couple of images recently sent into the NLM. I hope it will further encourage other parish priests.

The first comes from the Cathedral of St John Berchmans in Shreveport, Louisiana:

The second image comes from Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, New Jersey:

Very nice in both cases and congratulations are to be offered. My one encouragement to these good developments would be to acquire altar crosses that are more proportioned to the candlesticks and candles themselves, to continue that sense of verticality.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: