Free-Standing Altars
#1
Concerning the free-standing altar, in the new church in St. Marys, KS, the below article, the author gives reasons for the free-standing altar. All highlighting is the authors, except for the red, which is mine.

The author wrote -

"a free-standing altar is ideal", 
- an old 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia explains, "Hence it [the high altar] must stand free on all sides,
- and a priest will now be able to incense all sides. 

Since when is a free-standing altar ideal? If it was ideal, why have the churches from old, never made that their norm?

About the incensing of all sides of the altar, "not just the front" - Has God been short changed for all of these years with the altar only being incensed from the front and sides only? 


“The Sanctuary” - link to article



By Fr. Joseph Wood

he sanctuary is the most sacred part of the church, home to the altar and, thus, the tabernacle where Our Lord dwells among us. In the Immaculata, we will have a more noble sanctuary, befitting the worship of Almighty God. The Latin word for "sanctuary" implies a place that is set apart, a place that is limited to certain people or events. We see this boundary in the altar rail; in the liturgy, only certain people can pass beyond it. This should teach us that the sanctuary is not like the rest of a church. It hearkens back to the Holy Holies of the Old Testament Temple.

The altar is obviously the focal point, not just of the sanctuary, but of the whole church. It is, in a way, the very reason the church exists. On the altar, every day, the Sacrifice is offered so that each of us may partake of the graces Our Lord intended for us when He died on the Cross. The altar itself is another sign of Our Lord. As we priests approach the altar for the first time at Mass, we pray: "Take away from us our iniquities, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be worthy to enter with pure minds into the Holy of Holies, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

One difference in the Immaculata will be a free-standing altar. For many of us, it may be foreign or even a novelty. In fact, for the full solemnity of the liturgy, a free-standing altar is ideal(as one can witness if you visit the main churches of Rome.) [/color]As the Old Catholic Encyclopedia from 1910 explains: "Hence it [the high altar] must stand free on all sides, allowing ample room for the consecrator to move around it. As its name indicates, the high altar, being the chief place for the enactment of the sacrificial function, is to be prominent not only by its position but also by the richness of its material and ornamentation." As a practical example, the priest, during a High Mass, [/color][/color]will now be able to incense around the entire altar, not simply the front.

In the rendering, many of you also noticed a kind of "crown" hanging from the ceiling above the altar. Traditionally there was some covering above every altar, though the forms varied: you might be familiar with various canopies or baldachinos from Roman churches. A tester is a form of this covering that hangs from the ceiling to symbolically crown the altar and draw attention to the dignity of the place.

What you see around the sanctuary is a colonnaded ambulatory: a place where sacristans and ministers can circulate with ease and dignity. This is another traditional or classical architectural element that makes the sanctuary stand out. May all these details provide a more worthy home for Our Lord, under Our Lady's mantle, to help you participate more deeply in the liturgy and thus save your souls.
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