Father Sebastian Camilleri's Reflection, "Why the tabernacle should be centrally located in our churches", touches the very heart of our Catholic belief.
We have been bequeathed a gift of breathtaking proportions, a "gift beyond description ... a treasure of surpassing value", as Pope Paul VI described the Eucharist in the opening paragraph of Mysterium Fidei, his Encyclical Letter of 1965.
Significant beyond our understanding, incredible in its generosity, not only is Christ's gift of Himself accessible to every practising Catholic in the sacrament of Holy Communion, but His divine Presence continues to reside among us in the reserved Eucharist in every Catholic church and oratory. God is with us "... after the offering of the sacrifice, the making of the sacrament, as long as the Eucharist is kept in churches and oratories" (Mysterium Fidei, No 67).
Without a doubt, it is the physical presence of our Saviour, in a tabernacle properly sited as liturgical law prescribes, that sets the Catholic church apart and bestows upon believer and visitor alike a sense of deep serenity and inner stillness - the balm that troubled souls in a turbulent world seek.
Silence, reverence, and sanctity are inextricably entwined. In the presence of Christ, as Fr Camilleri's friend noted, "you just feel it straight away". He was able to make a comparison between a church with a tabernacle in the sanctuary, and one without.
His children may not be so fortunate. How disadvantaged are Catholic children who grow up in parishes where the church has no sanctuary with centrally located tabernacle; they are effectively denied a full and complete understanding of Christ's supreme gift, for "... the Eucharist is kept in churches and oratories as the spiritual centre of the religious community and the parish community, indeed as the spiritual centre of the universal Church and the whole of humanity. The reason is that its content, veiled by the appearances, is Christ" (Mysterium Fidei, 68).
Thank you for an excellent publication!