Saturday, February 10, 2024


 Someone asked me why I removed the altar railing in 2004 at St. Joseph Church in Macon, only to reinstall it in 2014. It’s complicated. Part of it is that liturgists demanded that railings be removed so as not to create a barrier between the altar and the congregation. I kind of bought into that at the time but not completely. At any rate, the original location of the railing presented logistical problems for a free standing altar. Initially I wanted to pull the altar away from the reredos so there wouldn’t be double altar. It was recommended by the contractor not to do that as it might destabilize the reredos which is top heavy. Thus we added another altar, but on the same level as the old so that from the congregation’s view, double altars would not be as apparent. 

In 2004 I never thought that the altar railing could be one step up from the nave on an extended first step. So that’s why I restored it, on the nave level, easy to use and more beautiful but less intrusive. I also thought that the EF Mass would continue as no pope would undo what Pope Benedict XVI mandated in Summorum Pontificum. 

This is a new church close to Charleston. This is an excellent way to have only one altar with a traditional reredos (I suspect recycled from a closed church) where the Mass can be celebrated ad orientem or toward the nave. This wins the award for common sense in a new church with a traditional ethos. However, while I like the beautiful Holy Spirit inlay on the floor before the altar, someone many years ago complained to me about religious artwork located on the floor that people walk all over. Would you walk on an image of Jesus or of His Most Holy Spirit? Think about it!

This is the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta. Around 1995 or so, I spearheaded a major restoration of this church begun in 1857 and completed and consecrated in 1863 during the Civil War! That was a miracle in and of itself!  I made sure that the original altar, in continuous use since the consecration and through Vatican II was continued after the renovation. The altar was removed from the reredos and brought forward and freestanding with the possibility of the Mass celebrated on either side. I celebrated “concert” Latin Mass ad orientem around 1998 at the restored altar. No horror of double altars at Most Holy Trinity thanks to me:

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