Monday, 20 July 2009

Back in Place

I hear that Bishop John d'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend has issued an edict for his diocese about the placing of the tabernacles in churches. 'The presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is at the center [sic] of our faith and of the devotional life of the Catholic people.'

The divine Presence is not only in our churches during Mass. Perhaps the fact that so many of our churches are kept locked outside times of services prevents people from seeing things in this way. Bishop d'Arcy believes that the predominant role of the Sacrament in our lives should be reflected in our churches. Not unreasonable, you may think. He realizes what most Catholics have always known - that people have always desired the tabernacle to be central and visible in our churches. Whatever certain liturgists may say, where confusion arises is where the tabernacle is not in such a position.

Bishop d'Arcy's new norms state that the tabernacle be 'permanently located in the sanctuary of the church, along the central axis behind the main altar - at an elevated open location...or in anothe rplace in the sanctuary that is equally conspicuous.' Note that the Bishop is not being totally and uncompromisingly dogmatic here (he is not a liberal) - he is recognising that in some (especially some modern) churches the directly behind the altar location may not be the best.

Now how about bringing some of this common sense approach across the Atlantic......