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?????