Saturday, October 22, 2011

Antependia I have loved, and ugly altars

A Catholic church cannot be a church without an altar. This is where the Holy Sacrifice takes place. This is where the host is transubstantiated into the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians, and it is at Mass where we see the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
What then should be the primary visual focal point in the sanctuary?  The altar!
Making the altar a dignified and awe-inspiring element of the sanctuary helps us to achieve a greater sense of reverence concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
How should an altar be decorated? The answer, truly, is not at all. However, an altar may and should be “vested” just as the priest is vested appropriately for Mass. A traditional way of creating a “vestment” for the altar is the antependium or frontal.
It is always nice to see a properly vested altar! Here are some examples from my own experience:

I think it's rather majestic-looking, but too bad this altar hides a wonderful high altar and reredoes!

Nice little altar in a nice little chapel...

Same altar, same chapel, different antependium.

They're not all perfect examples of altar/sanctuary arrangements, but they are pleasing, I think.

Here are some examples of what NOT to do to altars:

Well-intentioned, I guess, but showing a complete lack of understanding of what the altar is really all about.

To what is your attention directed?! The altar? What altar? I see a bed sheet being used as a backdrop for the floral arrangement!

Do I really need to say anything? Okay: Ugh.

And NOT use the altar as a desk or catch-all for the priest's notes, etc.
 Here are some links to great articles at The New Liturgical Movement blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous and concise.