My husband and I visited a beautiful, fully restored church this past weekend. This basilica dates back to the late 1800’s. The intricately patterned vaulted ceilings, life-like statues and renaissance style paintings surely lifted our thoughts to God. We knelt to say our prayers before mass began. Afterward, we sat in the pew gazing round and round, trying to take in all there was to see – a holy reminder in every nook and cranny.
Eric and I were both disappointed to notice that the tabernacle that houses the Body of Our Lord was positioned off to the side of the altar. At communion time a gentleman came from out of his pew, ascended the altar and brought the ciborium (the ornate vessel holding the Body of Christ) to the priest.
As you can see in the photograph above, this church also has its altar railing in tact – something that all Catholic churches used to have – something that began to disappear in the 1960’s. My husband and I were so hoping that we would be able to receive Jesus from the priest on our knees at that altar railing. This seems such an appropriate posture to take when approaching a king – Our King. Unfortunately, the railing was not used for this purpose of reverence. That was disappointing.
It was sad to me that such great care had been taken in restoring the beauty and structure of this religious landmark, however, the most important item in the church – the tabernacle holding Jesus remained in a place of lesser honor. Jesus should always be front and center in a church sanctuary. His tabernacle should be prominent, and He should hold the highest place of honor. After all, in attending the holy sacrifice of the mass, it is Christ that we come to worship.