A New and Relocated Tabernacle for the Church
I would like to propose for the parish obtaining a new tabernacle and relocating it to the center of the church, behind the altar and recessed into the wall.
First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The tabernacle is to be situated ‘in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.’ The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar” (CCC 1183).
When we enter a church, particularly at Saint Juliana, our eyes are naturally drawn to the center and to the altar. The altar, thus, is the most prominent place in our church and where we should immediately see the Real Presence of God.
Now, I’m not doing this just to follow the rules. This is to enhance our worship of God and our own prayerfulness. Anyone can sit anywhere in the church and look forward to pray to God in the Blessed Sacrament. This will help us further Experience Jesus—our parish motto.
A few years ago I wrote about moving the presider’s chair out of the center of the sanctuary and off to the side, since our focus shouldn’t be on the priest (I know, shocker to hear that from my lips!) but on the altar where Christ gives himself to us lovingly in his sacrifice. Having the tabernacle behind the altar in the middle is the logical next step.
Also, this is a great teaching opportunity and chance to showcase the brilliance of our church design. The word tabernacle originally derives from the Book of Exodus, when God came down and “tabernacled” with Moses on Mount Sinai. The presence of God was then “tabernacled” in the Temple of Jerusalem, which was built on Mount Zion. Mount Zion, by the way, was the location where Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac. Read the Book of Leviticus and you will see descriptions of the Holy of Holies in the Temple that foreshadow a Catholic Church and the tabernacle: twelve loaves kept on a table to signify God’s abiding presence (the reserved Blessed Sacrament), a light to be always burning the temple (the Sanctuary Lamp), angels adoring and serving (see the design of the new tabernacle facade, with the angels and the Sanctus or Holy, Holy, Holy—the hymn of the angels).
Our magnificent altar (a deep blood red, like the sacrifice of Christ that didn’t happen with Isaac) is Mount Zion! And, with the steps leading up to the altar, it literally is like climbing a mountain. Our tabernacle should be atop it. Jesus, present in the tabernacle, should be in the center of our church, as he is in our lives. “Christ before me” as we hear in the Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer.
We would cut a hole into the mosaic wall to place the tabernacle box, so we would not need to move the altar forward. We will keep the side altar and place a statue of the Blessed Mother in that location.
I have spoken with the various committees of the parish—staff, finance council, pastoral council—and all are in support of this project. But I’d like to hear from you, so please reach out to me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. And we are exploring pricing options, so please also let me know if you have ideas on that front. Thank you and God bless you!