From a reader…
What is the consequence of standing on the alter table to change a hanging sanctuary lamp? (I just saw this after mass today)
Consequences can be dire, especially for the ladies of the altar guild who have to clean the altar cloths. Those footprints are pesky.
Also, the rubrics say that the perpetrator is to be caused to write “I will not stand on the altar” 10,000 times, after which he is to be fed only on bread and water until the following Sunday, when he must publicly do penance by sitting in the back corner of the church with headphones listening to recordings of the priests past sermons.
Frankly, depending on the layout of the sanctuary, there aren’t a lot of options for doing certain things. For example, shifting large candle sticks on a top gradine or changing their candles… or sometimes lighting them. Putting up the veils over images on Passion Sunday comes to mind. Having help with the ability to levitate really helps. Believe me.
I wouldn’t worry about this, even though it was jarring to see. It would have been better for that to have been done when people were not in church. Everything that happens on or near the altar is important. Catholics, as you did, sense that.
Also, one must consider the reason why one might stand on an altar. It is one thing to change a lamp (which shows respect to the Blessed Sacrament). It is another thing to climb up and start shouting about abortion rights, as a protestrix might do. I think this happened in Notre-Dame in Paris.
On the other hand, it could be that, if the sanctuary lamp hadn’t been changed because people were there, I might have gotten a question about the consequences for not having changed the sanctuary lamp.