Friday, April 14, 2023


This is Manila’s Cathedral at the installation of a new rector there recently.

The free-standing altar is beautiful, but completely unnecessary and superfluous. 

I am sure the ideology behind the free-standing altar, being lower and somewhat closer to the nave of the cathedral is to make the people feel closer to the liturgical action. But that is bunk!

If you are a layperson on the front row or the last row of this cathedral, the altar that you feel closest to is the altar that your eye is drawn to, and in this case it is the high altar. Psychologically that altar is the altar closest to the first row and the last row, not the lower and physically closer new altar! (This is true of my Cathedral in Savannah too!)

And what is there to see in the 1970 Missal celebrated on a lower table, physically closer to the first pew that can’t be seen better at the high altar that psychologically is closer appearing to the everyone in the nave? 

Facing the people, the laity watch the priest and his good, mediocre or bad looks; his pious or impious facial expressions; they can watch him praying as though to them! 

All of the sign language of the TLM’s Roman Canon is removed, which would be interesting to see when the Liturgy of the Eucharist is facing the nave, but who even uses the stripped down Roman Canon anymore anyhow? 

And of course, since this is a traditionally oriented Cathedral, the Cathedra for the Bishop is to the left side  from the nave’s orientation. A lowly priest can’t use that, so with the free standing altar, the chair for the priest has to be directly behind or in front of the free-standing altar (at my cathedral in Savannah it is dead center behind the free standing altar as in the photo above.)

What is this obsession on the part of so many to have the priest face them for any part of the Mass? What’s up with that?????


ByzRus said...

I've said this for years.

This obsession with being seen and the placement of chairs is almost comical.

In the East, many find the practices of the West to be a puzzlement.

Unknown said...

I wonder if priests secretly don't like facing the people because of irreverent ways some parishioners show (e.g., not genuflecting, chewing gum, etc.) in front of the altar which may be very distracting to priests.
If I were a priest my heart would be breaking seeing the flock's disrespect for Our Lord's True Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Martha Korbuszewski
Federal Way, Washington

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I try to keep my eyes fixed on the altar and crucifix facing me which helps with distractions. But, yes, watching the antics of some, especially leaving the pre during the consecration is beyond distracting.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"The smell of the sheep" includes people in church and the way they behave. Crying babies, elderly folks who talk loudly, squiggly three year olds being three year olds, and the like do not break my heart. These are the pople I serve. I don't know in what church, denomination, or religion the leader or prayer/worship finds a perfectly behaved crowd. I don't think I want to know.

TJM said...

Fr K,

You serve the Party of Moloch: infanticide and transgenderism. Proditor!

Unknown said...

Hi Fr. Michael,
First, thank you for being a Priest of God. A calling which is answered and lived up to less and less.
When I attended Mass, my parents would not allow me to bring books, games, or other means of distraction to Mass. I was to pay attention and behave in front of the Lord. Oh yeah, there were also no bathrooms in Church, so no many useless excuses to break the expected attention by crying for a bathroom break.
So while babies cry, and people are people, there is such a thing as expected and taught behavior, but the nasty “d” word (discipline) is pushed out and no longer taught nor practiced.
So I thank you for being patient with “modern man” (albeit it feels we’re becoming more animalistic as time progresses) and I pray that you continue to sr r the Lord with gladness.
People are desperately needing it.
Gif bless,