Monday, August 27, 2012

Assumption Grotto Restores High Altar

Whenever photos are shown here of a sanctuary which has two altars -- the historical high altar and a newer altar before it -- there are often comments which lament this situation -- usually for a few reasons.

With that in mind, I thought many of you would be gratified by this bit of news shared to us by Diane at Te Deum Laudamus wherein she notes that the Detroit parish of Assumption Grotto has recently removed their own forward altar, thereby reinstating the historical high altar to its place within their sanctuary:

Here was the situation before:

Fr. Perrone, the pastor of Assumption Grotto, explains the decision in his Sunday bulletin this week. Here is an excerpt:

When I carefully studied the book The Spirit of the Liturgy by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), I realized that we ought to be facing East once again and not towards the people since that position inadvertently created a “closed circle” that did not aim towards heaven, towards God (East), but towards man (symbolically indicating that man and not God was the focal point of the Mass). In the early years of my pastorship here, the low altar was used variously: first, facing the people; then facing East; and then, with a move of the altar farther back some feet towards the main altar, with the priest still facing East. We were getting progressively more in line with an ideal.

Over time I began to think it foolish for us to use the low altar while neglecting the church’s original. In addition, there was a problem having two altars. There ought to be only one altar prominent (main) in a church, not two. Moreover, for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass (now once again available to us), the low altar kept getting in our liturgical way.

Fine, you may say, but what is to be done should a visiting priest want to celebrate Mass facing the people? We have already provided for that in having readily available an altar that can be set in place in a matter of minutes. It too is suitably made, containing an true altar stone and thus worthy of Holy Mass.

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