Thursday, September 24, 2015

THE BENEDICTINE ALTAR ARRANGEMENT WHICH POPE FRANCIS CONTINUES TO MODEL FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH: WHY AREN'T ALL CATHEDRALS AND PARISHES FOLLOWING THE HOLY FATHER'S EXAMPLE?

Bishops are selling their SUV's and settling for hybrid/electric models and large fiats like Pope Francis uses. They are getting rid of their extravagant homes and moving into cathedral rectories, like Pope Francis has moved into the Vatican Motel 6. They are recycling like Pope Francis and installing environment friendly heating and cooling systems and rather than use air conditioning, their roll down their windows, like Pope Francis does.

Yet when it comes to the Liturgy they fail to model themselves after Pope Francis. He never ad libs during the Mass, never! Never after the Sign of the Cross and formal greeting does he banter with the congregation and say "hello" or for good night's sake, "Good morning!" Never does he give into banal chatter or gives a mini sermon prior to the Penitential Act. He simply reads what the Roman Missal says in order to introduce either the Penitential Act or the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water.

These are the altars of Pope Francis in continuity with Pope Benedict. How many of you out there in Southern Orders land have this in your cathedrals or parishes??????





9 comments:

Julian Barkin said...

I say it's because they are spiritually selfish and prideful. It's easier to show an external/physical humility and to carry it out vs. internal/spiritual humility as that one requires deep change and commitment against our carnal and/or concupiscent desires. Also the liturgy is where the priest is front and centre. It's his "show" where he is on display, and that kind of change would be perceived as "controlling" to him, or take away his "spotlight." Hence the spiritual/internal pride being manifested in that manner. Well Christ didn't day following his commands would be easy.

Bea S. Wax said...

But, but, but YOUR church doesn't have this so-called Benedictine arrangement......

Your four, not six, candlesticks are on the floor on the sides of the altar.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

BS, the Benedictine altar arrangement means a cental crucifix on the altar facing the priest so he may gaze on it during the Sacrificea and at least 2, 4 or 6 candlesticks either on the altar or the floor next to it. In addition to our 4 floor candlesticks we have 6 on the reresos behind it.

Bea S. Wax said...

But, but, but, you don't "gaze" at the crucifix during mass - I've watched. You read from the missal.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You better watch more closely! :)

Anonymous said...

Our "expert" liturgists here in the Philippines seem to discourage this arrangement, and this is why it is rarely seen in our churches.

I serve as a volunteer in our chapel and our altar has always been plain-looking ever since I started serving there. I have always hoped to see at least some candles and a central crucifix on the altar. Last month, I was thrilled when our new pastor asked us to place some candles on the altar. But sadly, he did not mention anything about a central crucifix.

I'm planning to give some simple suggestions to increase the reverence (and attendance!) in our Masses in the chapel. One of the suggestions that I am planning to give is to place a central crucifix on the altar. Our chapel already has a small altar crucifix which has been kept for a very long time in one of the cabinets at the sacristy. It's the best option we have for now since our chapel might not afford to buy a larger one. Can anyone give me some advice on how I can convince them to do so? God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Atlanta's Catholic cathedral has 4 candles on the main free-standing altar, but still 6 on the old back altar that is seldom if ever used. My Atlanta parish has 6 candles on its altar, but I have seen another one in the suburbs with just 2 (and a wooden table for an altar at that). The Episcopal one (cathedral) up here has 2 candles on its free-standing marble altar and unlike the Catholic cathedral, still uses its altar rails for distribution of communion. This being the weekend of Atlanta's Greek festival, at their cathedral in DeKalb County near Emory, I'll see how many their altar has---think they have 6, 2 candlelabras (spelling?) with 3 candles each.

Anonymous said...

One of the churches I attend often had a new pastor who made several changes to what was a modern church. By modern, the church was built in the mid 1950s and used many of the design elements of that time. He did start with using the (almost)Benedictine Altar. He also frequently collected articles from other Churches when they closed. That collecting brought back many statues and votive candles,all which made that church seem more traditional. Along with the décor, subtle liturgical changes were made which did away with some of the 1970s practices. I did like the former pastors liturgy as they were dignified yet liberal and he gave excellent homilies. I will add though that the changes the new pastor made were quite impressive.

John Nolan said...

The so-called Benedictine arrangement is at best a compromise and an interim measure; what Benedict wanted was a return to a common orientation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the Novus Ordo Mass. The placing of cross and candles on the altar was not common practice until some way into the second millennium and altars in the first millennium were squarer than later ones. The even more recent custom of placing the tabernacle behind the mensa meant that the latter had to be quite narrow, since the celebrant had to reach over it in order to access the tabernacle. Also the candles, reliquaries, flowers etc. would normally be positioned on the gradines and not the mensa.

The late 20th century fad (and it is just that, a fad with no historical basis) of versus populum over-the-counter Masses has meant that the recovery of a praiseworthy earlier practice (the acolytes placing their candles on the altar steps, and the processional cross placed centrally behind the altar) is hampered. The cross ends up being placed to one side which makes no liturgical sense. Even more unliturgical is the deplorable Continental habit of placing two stumpy candles on one end of the mensa and a floral arrangement at the other. It's the sort of arrangement a suburban housewife might make on a table in her living-room.

In Rheims cathedral there is an elaborate 18th century high altar (no longer used) and an ugly modern cube. Neither is remotely suited to the building, but nowadays we are supposed to have more historical awareness. The recent re-ordering (at great expense, no doubt) of Paris's oldest church, St-Germain des Prés (if Modernism is a heresy then Post-Modernism must be a greater one) had such a negative impact on me that I would never want to attend Mass there.