I will tell you as I was imbued with this fad too but only for a short time until I realized that this was no panacea of renewal for the Church but rather the path to hell paved with good intentions.
1. Tabernacles had to be removed from the altar area so that the poor, stupid laity wouldn't be confused by the two "real presences" of the Lord, one in the tabernacle even before the Mass began and the real presence "confected" at the altar during the Holy Meal, what many use to call the Holy Sacrifice. (At least this presumed that everyone believed in one or the other).
2. Then there was a desire to bring the altar (and thus our Lord) closer to the people. Thus old high altars and reredos where dismantled and junked and new table like altars for the Holy Meal were trust into the nave of the church and usually one or two steps up with ambo, priest's chair and pews crowded around it in a fan or semi-circular shape. At least, the idea was to get our Lord closer to the people. Unfortunately, only the first couple of rows of pews or flexible seating could even see the altar and priest and whoever did whatever in a full church. In reality, this bright idea of bringing the altar closer to the people actually backfired and no one could see anything beyond the first two rows.
This happened in my first assignment where we did a "Rambusch" renovation. The altar was brought forward and lowered from five steps ups to only two. Following the dedication I had numerous people tell me they couldn't see the altar anymore from where they sat.
With all the renovations to the liturgy and the churches that celebrate the Holy Meal, we've gone from about 90% of Catholics attending Mass each Sunday to about 12 percent in the more liberal parts of our country to about 30% in the south and other places that are more conservative and thus more open to the Faith and publicly living it.
But here's a heartwarming story that tells you so much about what silly, insensitive, but well meaning priests did to churches back in the 70's and 80's:
Second coming! Church’s rescued relic restored
It’s the resurrection!
An important piece of a Bath Beach church’s century-old altar has returned from the grave thanks to a pious parishioner whose de-shrine intervention saved it 30 years ago, his pastor said.
“The high altar is right in the center of the church, and the piece Bill saved is an important piece of it,” said the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant.
Bill Coppa rescued the face of St. Finbar Church’s tabernacle — where Catholics store what they believe is the body of Jesus Christ — from a garbage pile during a 1984 renovation. A previous pastor didn’t give a frock about the gilded marble masterpiece, but Coppa thought trashing it was a sin, so he put it in his den, he said.
“I ran back in and I said ‘Father! There’s this beautiful piece there, and it’s thrown in the trash,’ and I asked if I could take it,” Coppa said. “He didn’t mind, so I grabbed it, and I’ve had it in my home office for 32 years.”
The congregation is in the midst of a larger renovation, and Coppa jumped at the chance to return the relic, he said.
Gelfant discovered two other pieces of the altar in a forgotten storeroom shortly after inheriting the flock in 2010, and the revelation inspired him to return the church to its former glory, he said.
“Those two great finds sparked the possibility we could restore it to the way it was,” Gelfant said.
Parishioners raised nearly a million dollars for the renovations, which started in October 2015. The church is tearing up 30-year-old tile to reveal the main sanctuary’s original terrazzo floor, sprucing up pews, and rehabbing the building’s exterior.
Gelfant expects they’ll resurrect the sanctuary, including the altar, in time for Easter, and anticipates the rest done in the following months.
The project has many long-time parishioners excited, and some handy churchgoers even volunteered their talent, Gelfant said.
“The people are so proud they’re getting their church back, and some have donated their labor — it’s been a real community effort,” he said. “People were never really happy with the 1984 renovations, a lot of them called it a ‘wreck-o-vation.’ ”