Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Very interesting link, Prax. The topic of my current dissertation is whether contemporary architecture, modernism with a small ‘m’, can ever become an appropriate vehicle for expressing orthodox Catholicism.

I agree completely that arrangements whereby the altar is either lower than other elements, presiding chairs, cathedras etc, or off central axis are harmful to right belief at this point in time. Of course there are noble examples from tradition where the cathedra is higher, the cathedral of Parma, or even more elevated, the cathedral of Girona in Spain. We’re in a muddle now because the central placement of chairs has been misappropriated from tradition.
Because a friut of Trent was the placement of tabernacles on main altars we have had to dethrone the Blessed Sacrament in order to enthrone the priest or bishop. The separation of the tabernacle from the main altar is a consequence of making ‘modes of Christ’s prescence’ into a critical issue, as if the faithfuls’ ‘comprehension’ of the nature of the dynamic mystery whereby the gifts are consecrated is somehow undermined by the abiding prescence of the lord in the tabernacle. (As well as the ‘facing the people’ chesnut…)
Another very unfortunate misappropriation from tradition has been the attempt to introduce the fixed ambo in counterpoint to the altar. I think that the faithful have been mislead into thinking that there is a parity between the prescence of Christ proclaimed in the Gospel and His prescence in the eucharist. As Paul VI reaffirmed, it is incorrect to claim a kind of equality here. The Word is present for the duration of the proclamation, to be sure, but is fully present, body and blood, soul and divinity, in the sacrament. The Gospel is, I suppose, a sacred induction into the mystery of the eucahrist. Therefore an ambo, I suggest should be in a high place, but not higher than the footpace of the main altar. It should be off-axis and well in front of the altar. It should also be reserved for the proclamation of the gospel alone. A legile should be set up on the epistle side of the sanctuary and used for the homily.
In this way a hierarchy of dignity can be established without creating confusions of parity, or false dichotomies developed in the 60’s (that have been shown to be false).

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