The altar should never, I mean never, ever, ever, be hidden by any decoration and certainly not the Nativity scene. People go wild hiding the altar and ambo with flower and decorations placing these directly in front of these two important liturgical furnishing. Decorations should frame, not block the altar or ambo or hide it.
Never, ever, ever, was the nativity scene placed in front of the altar for the Tridentine Mass prior to Vatican II or after or for Ordinary Form Masses ad orientem! Why, you ask? Because you can't get to the altar for all the clutter of poinsettias and the creche! No one did that for over 1,500 years!!!!!
Personally I hate any and every fake plastic Christmas tree covered/slathered/coated/encrusted in trendy monotone lights.
Decorations, flowers, wreaths, boughs etc are A-OK and beautiful, but fake trees? A tree in a house for decoration and present stowage is where a tree belongs. A church with a tree in every "blank" spot as a monotone electric lit space filler, let it be anathema, said Trent.
I mean, how does a fake plastic tree covered in monotone lights glorify God or celebrate anything but trendy modern interior decorating ideas?
I agree 100 percent Father. My parish puts the nativity right against the altar so it looks like Mass is being offered on the roof of the manger. And every secular holiday is the same. Hay bails, pumpkins and corn stalks, flags and rifles with helmets on them, big wooden crosses laid sideways in front of the altar. One time I walked into church and the entire sanctuary was filled with cardboard sheep with all the first communicants names on them. Just plain stupid.
Agree. Modern churches with the requisite pile of flowers on the floor in front of the altar never look decorated from 5 rows back. I particularly dislike the acknowledgement of secular holiday Thanksgiving with gourds, corn, carrots, potatoes (yes, I've seen the whole garden on display) similarly piled. As stated, nothing should prevent the priest from approaching the altar.
Perhaps also worth considering is the tendency of some to line flowers on the front of the altar or, better yet, flowers on the front left, a few candles on the front right.
Re: fake floral: "It's a mortal sin to dust flowers."
Anglican churches have a 'harvest festival' in September where all sorts of produce are brought into the church and piled on or around the altar. in its present form the custom appears to have originated in Cornwall in 1843. Catholic churches in England did not adopt the practice, at least not until quite recent times.
Pope Francis celebrates his daily Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae at an altar with a couple of stubby candles at one end and a vase of flowers at the other. This is common in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. One commentator has likened it to the way a suburban housewife might decorate her coffee table.
Personally, I like to see some simplicity. Maybe simple wreaths on the doors, some red and white poinsettias and a small to medium size "real" Christmas tree. There should be a nativity set with real straw. When I was young, people would take a piece or two of blessed straw from the nativity set and keep it in their wallet or put it in their home nativity set with their own straw. I think what happens is that in many parishes, there is a collection for Christmas flowers and if the collection is substantial, so is the amount of decorations. One of my former parishes had the students in the Confirmation class visit the shut-ins and bring them the flowers after the Christmas season.
Father you’ve seen the Cathedral recently?
Well, don't come to my church in 30327. We had poinstettas in front of the altar. But they should be gone in a few days with January 6 around the corner....
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