DAILY CATHOLIC   WEDNESDAY    October 6, 1999    vol. 10, no. 190


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      In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we continue to detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today we cover the second half of the Sixth Century, the Century of the growth of monasticism when Saint Benedict would become the father of western monasticism with the establishment of his Order of Benedictines and the time leading up to the Gregorian era which we cover today in chronicling the achievements of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.       We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.

      With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest remembrance Christ gave to His Church.

Installment Twenty-one

The Tools of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - Part Two

The Tabernacle

        Probably no factor is more disconcerting to loyal and devout Catholics than the placement and kind of the Tabernacle in the church. We can't count the number of times we've entered a church not knowing which way to genuflect. Searching in vain for a sanctuary lamp so we can identify where Our Lord resides, if indeed He is truly there al all! If a sanctuary lamp is not lit, He is most likely not there. There are, unfortunately, many churches where this might be the case because of the insignificance the pastors and liturgical commissions give to the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Only God knows for sure, but it is disheartening when one desires to visit Jesus. At times the Tabernacle is way off to the side, or behind a wall, or in the back “out of the way” or in another building altogether.

        Without editorializing too much, the practice of “hiding” the Tabernacle is probably one of the greatest violations that evolved from Vatican II. Canon Law states: Paragraph 1 “The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved regularly in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory.” Paragraph 2 states “The Tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved should be placed in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer. Paragraph 3 goes on to say “The Tabernacle in which the Eucharist is regularly reserved is to be immovable made of solid and opaque material, and locked so that the danger of profanation may be entirely avoided. “ (Can. 938).

        The words “prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer” evidently mean something else to many of these modern day liturgical commissions for a back room is not prominent. The word “prominent” means “well-known; eminent” and is derived from the Latin prominent which means “to project” in other words, to stick out, to stand out, to be prominent and conspicuous. Again, the Document on the Sacred Liturgy by Vatican II says: “The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a solid, inviolable Tabernacle in the middle of the main altar or on a side altar, but in a truly prominent place.” In newer churches, too often the Tabernacle is an afterthought with more emphasis placed on the organ, or baptismal pool, or abstract architectural structure that remind one of a gymnasium or music hall…anything but a reverent home for the Highest of highs. This is disconcerting to Catholics who live their Faith for they realize the Tabernacle is the Heart of the church, for day and night it houses the Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself. Consider how eager we are to give the best we can and show respect to our earthly guests; then how much more concerned we should be to furnish a suitable dwelling place for our Divine Guest the Redeemer, the Incarnate Son of God.

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church states on page 306, #1183:: “The Tabernacle is to be situated “in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.” This is a direct quote from Pope Paul VI’s Mysterium Fidei (AAS, 1965). The Catechism goes on to reinforce, “The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic Tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.” On page 348, #1379 the Catechism asserts: “The Tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharistic in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent, outside the Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in His Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic services. It is for this reason that the Tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

        We've heard from all authorities on the prominence the Tabernacle should be given, yet many disregard or misinterpret these directives to suit their own purpose or search out loopholes to justify their actions in hiding the Tabernacles where it “wont distract the people!” No wonder our Lord is upset at how He is treated in our day!” `Though it is not the common practice today, up until Vatican II every Tabernacle was covered with a veil when the Blessed Sacrament was present within; the color of the veil being either white or the color to match the liturgical season. It recalls the origin of Tabernacle which is gleaned from the Hebrew word taberna for “tent”. A tent or curtain covered the Ark of the Covenant.

        Next week we will cover the Crucifix and sacred vessels on which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, Soul and Divinity confected through the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass and the reminder of His ultimate bloody sacrifice depicted through the crucifix.

Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-one: Tools of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: part three

October 6, 1999       volume 10, no. 190


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