With free standing altars, the biggest mistake church decorators make during the various liturgical seasons is to place stuff in front of the altar which obscures or hides the altar.
PLEASE NO NATIVITY SETS IN FRONT OF THE ALTAR!
PLEASE, NO FORAL ARRANGEMENTS IN FRONT OF, BESIDE OR AROUND THE ALTAR!
PLEASE, NO FLOOR CANDLESTICKS AROUND THE ALTAR!
The free standing altar should be framed and highlighted not cluttered and obscured and certainly no nativity sets in front of the altar. Let me repeat that, no nativity sets in front of the altar.
I feel better now:
The uncluttered free standing altar is beautiful without clutter around it, like nativity sets:
Not every church has the space available, as yours does, for a large creche away from the sanctuary. Here at St. Peter's we have our Nativity scene, with a stable made a couple of years ago by one of our talented parishioners, in front of the altar, as there is no other remotely suitable place for the display.
The 4 floor candlesticks remain in place as always. Well, not always "always," as I reduce the number to just two in Lent when I also remove the Persian-style rug from in front of the altar, giving the sanctuary a more austere appearance.
As the sanctuary is the central focus of our church, it is the space that get the most serious decorations, including read and white poinsettias at the sides of the Nativity scene and on the wall behind the altar.
The post beneath this one talks disparagingly about "controlling liturgists," and I wonder if your attempt to ban what you do not prefer is not an example of such misdirected control.
As I understand it, nothing should prevent the priest from approaching the altar, doesn't matter which side. The incensation should not have to compete with said nativity set or flowers piled on the floor etc.
I should have qualified my statement considering smaller churches/sanctuaries. Though sanctuaries should be constructed considering Holy Week, the services of the Triduum and the potential for numerous participants, the reality is that not all were. The ideal would be for nothing to impede access. If that's not realistic given the space that you have, that's reasonable to me.
Where we part company a bit is with the number of candlesticks/holders...I've was put in my place a number of years back "They're not candlesticks!". Whatever. Some always know all. Anyhow, I've never understood why one would "fast" so-to-speak from candles or incense during Lent. My understanding is to the extent a church is fortunate to have them, brass should be replaced with silver during lent otherwise, use what you have. Carpets and other usual (non-festive) adornments are taken up on Holy Thursday after the mass of the Lord's supper. I get it, but I don't. There's also no concept of this in the East, the Byzantine Churches. We do, however, revert to Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on other than Sundays during the Great Fast (and the Saturday Vigil where its offered) which always relies on one of the 8 Resurrectional Tones.
Flowers and decorations in front of an altar preclude the possibility of ad orientem celebration of Mass (which is envisioned in the GIRM of the post-conciliar missal).
Allowing for Mass to be celebrated according to what the GIRM states is not being a “controlling liturgist.”
This is a priceless comment at Praytell on Rita’s post. Fortunately I copied it before it is removed:
Tom Piatak says:
December 31, 2021 at 3:35 pm
This would make a marvelous entry for April 1, 2022.
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