Saturday, September 5, 2020


I had some time to kill this Saturday morning, so I thought I would experiment with a before and after in our new St. Anne main Church.  It is makeshift, thus I would never leave it the way I rearranged things and all is back to the status quo.

But it gives me some ideas about improving our contemporary/Neo-traditional sanctuary.  The tables that the six candles are own are our credence tables and are off to the sides behind the tabernacle. Thus these would not work.  I'd need something taller that could also accommodate flower arrangements too.

But what do you think and what would you suggest?


AFTER AS AN EXPERIMENT (please note candles on altar):

Please note different placement of two candles on altar:

Please note new placement of two candles on either side of altar on tall candle stands:

These are the makeshift credence tables for this experiment. I think we would need to extend the tabernacle's "table" out slightly below its top with something that matches it better, but what?


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I've often thought, too, what a reredos would look like in there where the tabernacle currently is. Many churches get older reredoses from closed churches and impose them on a style of architecture that is inharmonious for both.

Technically,the brown "thingy" with the arch is a modern reredos. It is huge of course. But it it, in and of itself, were treated as a reredos, how could it be enhanced to look less plain and more ornate but not imposing on it something too tradition that would cause an inharmonious look or dissonance?

rcg said...

About the two candlesticks on the floor: I like the look but would that get in the way of the server’s movements or incensing the altar?

The Egyptian said...

I think we would need to extend the tabernacle's "table" out slightly below its top with something that matches it better, but what?

Ir's called an Altar, a High Altar, really Fr are you slipping, Looks like good wood however it has a Closet Maid vibe to it, remove the whole thing and procure a nice high altar in an art deco style, since you have a more modern looking church. But without looking at the whole thing i may be speaking out of my..em..well you know

ByzRus said...

Such an improvement! It changes things dramatically and obviously looks more traditional. Honestly, I would have left the two tables there and found something to serve as an interim credence table. The candles on the altar looks much better than the candles surrounding on the floor. Though I understand floor candles to be the older model, I never cared for how it looks - too funerial or something.

If the wooden structure is supposed to be a reredos, it doesn't really look like one. There is not anything about it that indicates that it is other than part of the structure of the building, and then, one that reminds me of a tissue box on its side. Perhaps some symbolism that is gold leafed could be added like the alpha/omega or, script above it like Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus or, Hoc Est Enim Corpus Meum (apologies if the spelling isn't quite right). Really need to see some photos of the sanctuary at various angles and perspectives.

As for the altar of repose, why couldn't a cabinet maker, or the one who made these furnishings if still in business, be engaged to build something that incorporates the existing pedestal into a more substantial structure or, build something new with mensa and gradines. The crucifix over the tabernacle somehow doesn't go but, I do not have a suggestion at the moment that wouldn't perhaps blend in and get lost in the structure itself. Perhaps a brass crucifix to match the tabernacle might be an option.

Ideally, a high altar should grace your sanctuary, not decoupled furnishings. However, until such time that the Church gravitates back that way (we can hope), this is an outstanding interim solution until something more permanent can be built. I hope you consider putting it back.

Matthew Hoffman said...

Hi Fr. McDonald,

I do like the first proposed option, where you have the six candles, three on either side of the tabernacle, and then two candles and a crucifix on the altar itself.

Also, as am aspiring church architect, I'd be happy to do a few sketches/designs for how to "improve" your reredos somehow, if you wanted. I recently did something similar for a priest friend of mine in New York.

My email is if you were interested.

(p.s. I'm the one who sent you the alternate design for the Crystal "Christ" Cathedral last year)

Anonymous said...

yeah i agree father. I've never been a fan of floor candelsticks...seems to junk up the sanctuary...

Even if you had a new tabernacle "table" built to match the current one but the entire length of the space the candles would be taller. You could make it as deep as you want to accomodate flowers etc.

ByzRus said...

The reredos structure looks like an iconostas. Even has the 2 deacon's doors and the royal door arch in the middle. I'm not suggesting iconography, however. The west has its own artistic traditions, no need to borrow from the east.

Pierre said...

My little country church added an antependium which greatly enhanced the altar, giving it a bit of grandeur. Although not inexpensive it is far less expensive than a new altar

Anonymous said...

Romulus Augustus here, Father I must say you make me giggle in a good way. You seem to want to and I hope you do come over to the total TLM way of life so to speak, you would make a wonderful priest for an ALL TLM parish you really are impressive I must say, and again maybe you would get your own parish that offers the TLM exclusively.

John Nolan said...

What lets this sanctuary down is the see-through altar (table?) which might have well have come from IKEA.

Firstly, have your altar cloths reach the floor on either side. Secondly, have an antependium in the correct liturgical colour. Thirdly, use this arrangement to get candles off the floor and onto the gradines or altar where appropriate.

Fourthly, celebrate Mass in both orientations. Eventually people will get used to this and it won't be a problem.

Pierre said...

I agree that the see through altar is not pleasing. It might work well in a small chapel but not a church of this scale

JR said...

Personally, I don't like candles on the floor. I like the two candles and crucifix on the altar arrangement. I think a nice dossal behind the tabernacle would draw focus there instead of the large brown 'reredos'. Perhaps one of a nice shade of gold or dark red?

Anonymous said...

Romulus Augustus here, indeed I agree cannot stand the candles on the floor bit never did get that when I see Novus Ordo churches and the open altar deal, put the six candles on the altar, have the altar cloth cover it and central crucifix is a must!!