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Re: Tabernacle placement was Re: [liturgy-l] Versus Populum

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  • Thomas R. Jackson
    One of the problems with tabernacle placement in Roman Rite churches is that it has become such an ideological issue, symbolic of so many other issues.
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 1, 2002
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      One of the problems with tabernacle placement in Roman Rite churches is
      that it has become such an ideological issue, symbolic of so many other
      issues. Picketers outside of the Milwaukee cathedral are one manifestation
      of this, I suppose. But to be honest, the desire to peripheralize the
      sacrament, grudgingly making it available for people who want to engage in
      "their private devotion" doesn't do justice to either traditional Latin
      Catholic liturgical sensibilities, or even the current norms as articulated
      in our modern documents.

      personally, I don't have any problems with separate tabernacle chapels,
      although I think that John did raise some interesting and compelling points
      about the matter. I have seen plenty of churches where this was done
      well. However, the simple truth is that there have been many examples of
      placing the tabernacle in a closet, or hiding it from the public. These
      examples are not rare, they are, or have been common (my impression is that
      a lot of these abuses are being corrected). And frequently, this
      marginalization of the reserved Sacrament is not incidental, but part of an
      explicit agenda to marginalize Eucharistic devotions. But, like it or
      not, encouraging such practices are still a part of the obligations of
      Latin church pastors, and an integral part of our current laws and
      liturgical books. So, the placement of the tabernacle becomes a symbol as
      much as anything else.

      In my own parish, a previous pastor wanted to move the tabernacle off the
      main altar in the center of the church, even though the main altar has
      fallen into disuse, so there was no real compelling necessity to do
      so. What made the move particularly strange, however, was that our hundred
      year old church didn't have any place for to house a Eucharistic chapel,
      so, the tabernacle was just moved to a side altar, still in the sanctuary,
      still in the front of the church, in plain view. There was no practical
      effect of this move except a slight decrease in the prominence of the
      tabernacle, and some confusion as to just where the Sacrament was being
      reserved. The move caused a lot of ill feelings from parishioners who felt
      the Sacrament was being slighted, and, truth be told, a lot of snide
      comments about those parishioners who complained and their inferior
      liturgical sensibilities.

      Time passes, a new pastor, and the tabernacle is restored to its original
      position. Everyone is happy, the sky hasn't fallen, and the parish
      survives. Now it just isn't an issue anymore, which is as it should be. I
      guess we are reactionary neo-traditionalists who don't understand the
      proper implementation of the Council. Or maybe we are a pretty run of the
      mill parish that just got tired of being a part of a overzealous reform.

      thomas.
    • TAPoelker@aol.com
      In a message dated 9/1/02 9:05:04 PM Central Daylight Time, ... More likely, you are one of the vast majority of parishes who are victims of the bishops
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 2, 2002
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        In a message dated 9/1/02 9:05:04 PM Central Daylight Time,
        thomas@... writes:
        > I guess we are reactionary neo-traditionalists who don't understand the
        > proper implementation of the Council. Or maybe we are a pretty run of the
        > mill parish that just got tired of being a part of a overzealous reform.

        More likely, you are one of the vast majority of parishes who are victims of
        the bishops' failure to take their own Council document seriously and to
        educate their clergy in the theology and practical implications of liturgical
        renewal and who left the same old-school faculty in place in their seminaries
        and took no serious interest in revising the seminary curriculum to inculcate
        both an understanding and love of liturgy.

        I still see a problem with the reserved Eucharist at a prominent location in
        the worship space both because of the different requirements for a communal
        gathering and public prayer compared to meditation and adoration and because
        of the continued reliance on hosts from the tabernacle instead of everyone
        sharing in the bread of the feast as it is being celebrated.

        Why does the tabernacle have to be at a central point of the worship space
        for any of the Eucharistic services and devotions? Isn't an intimate space
        more conducive to contemplation? Isn't a separate chapel (if worthily done)
        more fitting for continuos prayer by a few than a space designed for public
        expression by hundreds? Couldn't processing in and out with the Eucharistic
        elements from the chapel for Benediction be wonderful occasions for
        Eucharistic hymnody?

        Notice how some of this threads' messages in favor of front and center
        tabernacles also favor silence before Mass. Here is where one can see
        ulterior motives. Instead of working to implement the new liturgy well, many
        want to retreat from the recognition of the priestly people and their active
        participation in worship and return to the days of silence and privacy in the
        pews. This is a source of the binary viewpoint of dinky or central. There
        are other possibilities, but because the bishops have failed in their roles
        as teachers and have chosen to treat this as a struggle for control within
        the church and have failed to respect and take advantage of the expertise of
        liturgical theologians, the other possibilities are usually unseen and the
        argument continues on the level of popularity and influence peddling instead
        as a matter of church teaching and continuing education.

        Your parishioners are victims not of overzealous reform but of under-zealous
        implementation of the reforms by bishops who thought that merely legislating
        change was enough without educating for change, beginning with their clergy.
        Instead of retreating from the reforms, we should be improving on the
        misguided and inadequate changes that were made in the name of reform.

        By the way, when was the last time you saw a new tabernacle that looked
        anything like a dwelling place for the Lord, or had a veil, much less one
        looking like a tent, which is the meaning of the word and has reference to
        the tent of the ark and the first chapter of John?

        Does anyone think that there might be some connection between reducing the
        argument to dinky or central and the cost of preparing a proper Eucharistic
        chapel?

        Tom Poelker
        St. Louis MO USA



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Thomas R. Jackson
        ... I am not sure why you see a conflict between the new liturgy and silent prayer prior to liturgy. Anyone who celebrates according to the reformed books
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 2, 2002
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          >Notice how some of this threads' messages in favor of front and center
          >tabernacles also favor silence before Mass. Here is where one can see
          >ulterior motives. Instead of working to implement the new liturgy well, many
          >want to retreat from the recognition of the priestly people and their active
          >participation in worship and return to the days of silence and privacy in the
          >pews.

          I am not sure why you see a conflict between the "new liturgy" and silent
          prayer prior to liturgy. Anyone who celebrates according to the reformed
          books utilizes silence in the liturgy, including before Mass. I really
          fail to see how this is a retreat from "recognition of the priestly people
          and their active participation in worship". In fact, the folks I see
          agitating for moments of silence the most are the folks in the pews.

          >Your parishioners are victims not of overzealous reform but of under-zealous
          >implementation of the reforms by bishops who thought that merely legislating
          >change was enough without educating for change, beginning with their clergy.
          >Instead of retreating from the reforms, we should be improving on the
          >misguided and inadequate changes that were made in the name of reform.

          I don't know. It has been forty years since the Council convened. We have
          introduced a lot of changes and embraced many of them. We have had a lot
          of parish education, and I think our parish is reasonably well read. Isn't
          it possible that it isn't that we don't understand, but rather that we
          disagree with some people's assessments as to what is a critical part of
          the reform? The Council, after all, never mandated moving the tabernacle
          at all, only that balance be found. Maybe our center of gravity is
          different than yours.

          At some point, it seems that "recognition of the priestly people and their
          active participation in worship" might actually involved listening to what
          the people have to say, or so it seems to me.

          >Why does the tabernacle have to be at a central point of the worship space
          >for any of the Eucharistic services and devotions? Isn't an intimate space
          >more conducive to contemplation? Isn't a separate chapel (if worthily done)
          >more fitting for continuos prayer by a few than a space designed for public
          >expression by hundreds? Couldn't processing in and out with the Eucharistic
          >elements from the chapel for Benediction be wonderful occasions for
          >Eucharistic hymnody?


          Sure, all of this could happen. In my own post, as you might recall, I
          started off by saying that I don't have a problem with a Eucharistic
          chapel. it doesn't work with us, and the attempt half heartily attempted
          to separate the tabernacle from the center of our space didn't achieve
          anything worthwhile. Because it can be done well some places does not mean
          either a) that it can be done well all places (it can't here), or that b)
          it should be done elsewhere, much less be an absolute norm.


          BTW, while I agree that hosts for Communion should be consecrated at the
          Mass being celebrated, and that this remains a problem in Roman Rite
          practice, I am unconvinced with the strategy of moving the tabernacle to
          accomplish this. I have seen a lot of parishes with separate chapels for
          the tabernacle, and geography didn't seem to dissuade them at all from
          dipping into reserves. Likewise, I have seen places who limit themselves
          to freshly consecrated hosts, despite the tabernacle located front and
          center, within reach of the celebrant. I think it has to do with clerical
          habits, not interior design.

          thomas
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