UPDATE: D. Madison: Tabernacles must be moved to center of sanctuaries

UPDATE 11 Jan:

Over at Fr. Hunwicke’s fine blog and polyvalent Anglican-Catholic resource, Mutual Enrichment, there is a wonderful quote from Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall from Corpus Christi (1965), on tabernacles. Fr. H says, “This is pure 24-carat Anglican Patrimony, every single word of it! Lege, disce, age!!”

So, read, learn and then get to it.

“The fundamental facts about the Blessed Sacrament are its publicity and its centrality. It is not a secret treasure, hidden away in a corner to be the object of devotion of the abnormally pious; it is the gift of God to his body the Church. The method of reservation which is advocated by many – though fortunately a diminishing number – of our [Anglican] bishops … whereby the Consecrated Elements are placed in a safe in the church wall and removed from association with the altar, seems calculated to encourage almost every wrong view of the reserved Sacrament that is conceivable. Could anything be more likely to detach the reserved Sacrament from its organic connection with the Church’s Liturgy than the provision that the place of reservation ‘shall not be immediately behind or above a Holy Table’? … It is therefore, I would suggest, most desirable that the Blessed Sacrament should normally be reserved in as central a place as possible, upon the high altar of the church, and that regularly some form of public devotion to the Eucharistic Presence should be held, if possible when the main body of the congregation is assembled.”  

And so we are duly mutually enriched.

To Fr. H for his kind words, thanks!

_____ ORIGINAL: Published on: Jan 8, 2016 _____

Back on 24 December I wrote about a piece in the local paper in Madison, WI about how The Extraordinary Ordinary, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino had directed that tabernacles should be returned to prominence at the center of churches.

HERE

Here comes everyone else.

NCReg
CNA
CWA

The Tidings (Archd. Los Angeles)

Church Militant (who didn’t contact me)

Catholic World Report (some interesting stuff!)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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20 Responses to UPDATE: D. Madison: Tabernacles must be moved to center of sanctuaries

  1. Patti Day says:

    That’s why we come here to your blog first, Father Z.

  2. I realize that cloning is morally indefensible…but in this case, can we xerox a couple hundred of +Morlino and sprinkle them around the US? We need bishops like this in abundance.

  3. tz2026 says:

    You’ve probably seen the “Intel Inside” logo.
    We need a “Jesus Inside” version.

  4. frjim4321 says:

    Yep, I saw that.

    I find it very sad. I find it very sad when reservation become a distraction from the Eucharistic action. [Only the very stupid or the very ideological would be confused.]

    But I don’t think this prelate has a background in liturgical theology. [I know this prelate. I deal with this prelate all the time. I am in this prelate’s diocese. Thus, I conclude that you mean this to be provocative and an insult. And the same ridiculous prattle was aimed at Benedict XVI.]

  5. robtbrown says:

    . . . [I know this prelate. I deal with this prelate all the time. I am in this prelate’s diocese. Thus, I conclude that you mean this to be provocative and an insult. And the same ridiculous prattle was aimed at Benedict XVI.]

    More often than not, that has unfortunately been the MO of FrJim4321 on this site. He seems to think theology is monologic rather than dialogic: “Hey, you have your opinion; I’ve got mine.”

  6. acardnal says:

    frjim wrote, “I find it very sad. I find it very sad when reservation become a distraction from the Eucharistic action.”

    This is the same old, argument one hears from malformed priests who think the holy Mass is primarily a meal and not primarily a sacrifice. THAT is what is “sad.”

  7. Clinton says:

    frjim, I find it sad when clerics and Church professionals adopt such a condescending
    idea of the laity, that we are so simple-minded that we are distracted and confused
    by the presence of the tabernacle anywhere near the altar.

    Between the Bishop of Madison and frjim, who holds a position closest to the “Spirit of
    Vatican II”? I defer to the words of His Eminence Giacomo Cardinal Lecaro, Archbishop
    of Bologna and a respected authority on liturgical theology. A participant at Vatican II,
    Cardinal Lecaro was considered a progressive, and was instrumental in drafting the
    Council’s Decree on the Liturgy. Here is what His Eminence had to say:

    “If the local Ordinary agrees to the location away from the altar, the place should be
    truly worthy and prominent, so that the tabernacle 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.”
    Letter of Cardinal Lecaro to the Bishops 30 June 1965,
    Concilium for Implementing the Decree on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.

  8. frjim4321 says:

    This is the same old, argument one hears from malformed priests who think the holy Mass is primarily a meal and not primarily a sacrifice. THAT is what is “sad.” -acard

    Well, that would not be me … meal, memorial, sacrifice, communion, thanksgiving and presence are all necessary aspects which must be kept in a proper balance such that any one of them does not entirely eclipse all of the others.

  9. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Well, that would not be me … meal, memorial, sacrifice, communion, thanksgiving and presence are all necessary aspects which must be kept in a proper balance such that any one of them does not entirely eclipse all of the others.

    If by “meal” you are making an Eschatological reference, the Divine Banquet, then I completely agree.

    On the other hand, if by “meal” you are referring to the Last Supper or the Passover (after which the Eucharist was instituted), then I don’t agree. The past reference of the Eucharist is Christ’ Passion and Death.

    The question is whether the Eucharist should take the form of a sacrifice or of a meal (even if the content is a Sacrifice). IMHO, the former is the correct answer.

  10. TheDude05 says:

    I’ve recently made this recommendation in the planning for our new parish home. One being that as Christ is the center of everything He should have a central space during the Mass. Two I made the joke that all of the people who still genuflect before entering their seat would actually have someone to genuflect to. Three I hate having to find the Lord to go spend time with Him, if He is above the Altar at all parishes then He’s easier to find. The Eucharist is not something we should be ashamed of and place in a little room away from the common area of worship. We should sit Him in his throne above the Altar of sacrifice. How much more thought and feeling would we put into the Penitential Rite if we could know He whom paid for our sins is right in front of us. It is also a safeguard as the ciborium would not have to traverse through people and through doors where it could be snatched.

  11. benedetta says:

    The movement to banish the tabernacles from our central attention in the sanctuary has meant that all celebrations of the Mass conducted there have begun in disorder, and nothing less. Minimally valid Masses are difficult to keep all together on an even keel, which to my mind was the very point, at least reading the incoherent justifications for it indicate this.

  12. pseudomodo says:

    On a side topic, I have followed Fr. Hunwickes blog for some time now (even before he joined the Catholic Church and was ordained).

    I find him to be an extraordinary intellectual and wit and I really treasure reading him daily but….
    I am troubled by a disturbing undercurrent in his writings and this recent article brings it to the surface once again. In it, he quotes Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall from Corpus Christi (1965), on tabernacles.

    The salient point in the quote are the phrases “Blessed Sacrament”, “object of devotion”, “gift of God to his body the Church”, “Consecrated Elements”, “public devotion to the Eucharistic Presence”.

    I find these and all comments a bit strange and there seems to me to be a lack of clarity from current and former anglo-catholics on exactly what thier clerical status was and is now. Am I mistaken in seeing Fr. Hunwicke referring to Anglicans as Fr., Priest, Bishop as if they were (all the while Anglicans) authentic clerics with the power to validly confect the Eucharist?

    Perhaps I am not so enlightened with the Anglo-Catholic Movement but my default position is that Anglican orders are absolutely null and utterly void. I would dearly love to find a case or cases of conditional ordination on the part of the Catholic Church (yes I am familiar with the Basil Hume situation but also the CDF’s approval of Fr Ghirlanda comments that “the ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896”).

    I think that I would like to hear from these new Ordinariate Catholic Priests a clear, unambiguous affirmation that since they were ordained, absolutely and not conditionally, that they are priests now and never were before. If this is the case how can they reflect on authentic Eucharistic experiences of the past if they were never ordained to begin with?

    I do think they have a beautiful patrimony and an authentic appreciation for history and the like. I think they are a wonderful addition to our liturgical heritage and that they are a blessing to Christ’s Church. We sorely need them and I would happily replace their liturgy for some of the parish liturgies I have had to endure.

    I would just be disturbed if a newly ordained Ordinariate priest happily told everyone that he has been a priest for 20 years!!

    I’m not trying to be antagonistic I’m just asking am I seeing something that doesn’t exist? A phantom in my own mind?

  13. jhayes says:

    robtbrown writes The question is whether the Eucharist should take the form of a sacrifice or of a meal

    The Catechism explains that it is both – not one or the other

    VI. THE PASCHAL BANQUET

    1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.

    [Of course. And we all know that.]

  14. frjim: “I find it very sad when reservation become a distraction from the Eucharistic action.”

    I would be grateful for an explanation of just how an informed believing Catholic could possibly find reservation or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to be a “distraction” from the Eucharistic action of Holy Mass. Does such distraction on someone’s part signal ignorance or lack of acceptance of the Church’s traditional belief in the Real Presence (as expressed unambiguously in magisterial documents such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia)? Would it suggest perception of a substantial difference between adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the Tabernacle, and adoration of the Host when elevated after the consecration, or when presented for reception in holy communion?

  15. bombermac says:

    I attended a TLM in a Northern VA church (can’t remember if it was Arlington or Washington DC diocese) about two years ago during Lent (possibly Palm Sunday). The church offered the TLM every Sunday at a decent time, and it was reasonably well attended.

    During the sermon, the priest remarked that the Church had wanted to move away from having the tabernacle front and center, and that this sentiment had been growing for decades (even previous to Vatican II). He quoted from at least one, possibly two documents that I think he attributed to previous popes.

    Does anyone know what documents he might have been referring to?

    It was only my first or second time at this church, and I remember hearing some of the regulars despairing at the priest’s remarks after Mass. Having attended Mass plenty of times in churches or military chapels where the tabernacle is “out of sight, out of mind,” I’m thankful for prelates like Bishop Morlino, and I’m very appreciative of the article over at Fr. Hunwicke’s blog.

  16. I’ve never been able to understand the theological justification proffered for moving the tabernacle off the altar. I’ve heard it several times, but it makes less and less sense every time I hear it.

    To the extent there is panic about moving the Eucharist front and center where It belongs, maybe it is because once that is accomplished, people will begin to realize more and more how little sense it makes to have the priest turn his back on our Lord in the Eucharist during Mass.

  17. robtbrown says:

    jhayes 

    robtbrown writes The question is whether the Eucharist should take the form of a sacrifice or of a meal

    The Catechism explains that it is both – not one or the other

    VI. THE PASCHAL BANQUET

    1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.

    The text does not say what you claim it does.

    It says that the Eucharist is a memorial of Christ’s Sacrifice. It does not say that it is a memorial of the Last Supper.

    That it is Communion with Christ’s Body and Blood is obvious. The “sacred banquet”, however, is, as I noted above, is an Eschatological phrase, not a reference to an historical event.

    NB: Latin for banquet is convivium, which literally means living together.

    O sacrum convivium!
    in quo Christus sumitur:
    recolitur memoria passionis ejus:
    mens impletur gratia,
    et futurae gloriae
    nobis pignus datur.

  18. Alan22 says:

    In reply to pseudomomo, I must say that I find it unutterably sad that you should choose to attack Father Hunwick in this way. The last time I checked, Pope Leo XIII’s bull was not considered de fide. This would mean that the good Father, and others who joined the Catholic Church, were perfectly entitled to consider their previous ordination to have been valid.

    The moot point was that their willing submission to ordination in the Catholic Church was, at the very least, an acknowledgement that there might be some doubt. A doubt which would, therefore, be removed by receiving the conferral of Holy Orders by a bishop in communion with the Apostolic See.

    Therefore, I find your wish to see convert Anglican clergy repudiate their former ministry (whether or not you believe that ministry to have been priestly) to be cruel and wicked. Cruel, because you go beyond the requirements of the Catholic Church. And wicked because you have made no acknowledgement whatsoever that these ministers (Catholic priests or not) have brought many thousands of people to a personal relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ, present perpetually in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

    You should read the text: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” and be ashamed.

  19. jhayes says:

    robtbrown, I was responding to your question which used the term “meal” rather than “memorial”

    In addition to the meal shared by the faithful present at the Eucharist who receive Communion, the Eucharist is also connected with past and future meals.

    Under the heading “What is this sacrament called?” the Catechism explains why one of its names is “The Lord’s Supper”. It refers to the Last Supper as well as the eschatological feast.

    1329 [It is called] The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.143

  20. jbazchicago says:

    I’m fascinated by the fact that in our modern church where we’ve elevated psychology to the level of a sacrament (ask any priest or religious), how the same folks can recommend putting the tabernacle anywhere other than the center axis of the sanctuary.

    The symbolism of its centrality and its importance is “psychologically clear” we put what is most important, immediately before us. So which is it, post-conciliar liturgists? You must choose, but choose wisely.