From a reader:
Our new and much more traditional pastor joined us a few years ago, and within the first year he had the tabernacle moved behind the altar. (Which made me and many others very happy)I have observed the priests, deacons and various others as they walk through the space between the tabernacle and the altar. Most will turn and face the altar and bow, while just a couple actually turn to the tabernacle and genuflect. (a few just walk through like there is nothing special at all).
Why would anyone choose bowing to the altar over genuflecting toward the tabernacle? To me it appears like they are turning their back on Christ. Our pastor is one who does turn to the tabernacle and genuflect.
What are your feelings on this?
This is one of the things about the Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form that really burns me up. The General Instruction/Institution of the Roman Missal directs that once Mass begins, people passing across the sanctuary bow to the altar rather than genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament. The idea is that the altar should be the focus. This is probably associated with the preference for Communion to be distributed from Hosts consecrated during the same Mass.
I don’t want to advocate ignoring liturgical law – Say The Black and Do The Red, after all – but it find it very hard to ignore the Lord when it is obvious that the the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a tabernacle which is clearly present and visible in the center of the sanctuary.
This winds up being a problem also when Holy Mass begins with an incensation of the altar, especially when Mass is ad orientem. It just doesn’t make sense to me to pretend the Blessed Sacrament isn’t there when it so obviously is there! I wonder if over time this doesn’t erode people’s reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
The altar is surely an important symbol of Christ in our midst. However, the Blessed Sacrament actually is that which it signifies. The Blessed Sacrament is not a mere symbol of Christ’s presence, it is Christ, present. The principle ubi maior minor cessat seems appropriate.