Centrality of tabernacle

Centrality of tabernacle

Marie Cassey

A thousand thanks, and I am sure many more thousands are joining me, after reading Fr Sebastian Carmilleri's article (October AD2000). Australia has a proud heritage of churches built in the tradition of our Holy Catholic Faith. Since her very beginning, like her Divine Master, the Church has always been a teacher and nowhere more than in the liturgy.

Upon entering a Catholic church you have the feeling that you have left the world behind and you find yourself in the physical presence of Our Divine Lord dwelling in the tabernacle positioned in the centre of the sanctuary - The Holy of Holies. We instinctively kneel and adore Him, for He is listening to us and comforting us with his mercy.

When something as vital to our Catholic faith and as rooted in tradition as the tabernacle is moved from the central axis of the sanctuary it loses its impact. It is because of this that it is essential for the tabernacle to remain in this position, the most distinguished position, and truly the place of honour.

The Church has always been conscious of the great Thomistic axiom "all knowledge begins with the senses". She also knows the power of association. I quote from Msgr Peter Elliott's book, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, location of the tabernacle, appendix 9.)

No 882: "The pre-eminent position would be at the centre of the sanctuary".

No 891: "To avoid the arid effects of liturgical rationalism and to promote prayer and reverence, let the Eucharist be restored to the truly pre-eminent position in every church. Where this has happened, the response of the faithful has been a resurgence of devotion to Our Eucharistic Lord. Through our incarnational human way of affirming priorities through signs and symbols, let Jesus be seen to be who He is - the centre of our faith and love, the 'summit and source' of the life of the Church".

MARIE CASSEY
Sydney, NSW

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