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THE ALTAR AND ITS FURNISHINGS EXPLAINED

08 Jul

• “The ALTAR STONE is the main part of the altar. It may be the whole table of the altar or a stone placed in the centre of the table. In either case it must be consecrated by a Bishop. It is marked with five carved crosses, and should generally contain the relics of several Martyrs. The relics of one Martyr are sufficient for validity of consecration.

• The altar table should be covered with three ALTAR CLOTHS properly blessed. These should be made of linen, and the uppermost cloth should hang down on either side almost to the floor.

• In the centre of the altar table stands the TABERNACLE, an appropriate shrine in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. It should be wholly lined in the interior with white silk or gilded plating.

• The TABERNACLE KEY should be gilded and should be on a ribbon or chain. It is exclusively in charge of the priest, who has a grave obligation of keeping it safe from profane hands.

• A CROSS bearing a conspicuous FIGURE OF JESUS CRUCIFIED is placed in the middle of the altar between the candlesticks.

• On the main altar are placed six large candlesticks, between which the Crucifix has a prominent position. On the other altars at least two candlesticks should be placed. The CANDLES used during Mass are of beeswax.

• On the altar are three ALTAR CARDS – one in front of the tabernacle, and one at each side of the altar. Inscribed on these cards are some of the prayers said by the priest during Mass.

• The MISSAL (Mass-book) contains the text of the various Masses. During Mass it rests on the MISSAL-STAND.

• Near the altar on a small table (CREDENCE table) are placed the CRUETS containing wine and water, and also a bowl and SMALL TOWEL for the washing of the priest’s fingers at the LAVABO.

• On the step of the altar is kept the ALTAR-BELL. It is to be rung during Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to call the attention of those present to the more inportant parts of these services.

• Before the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there burns continually day and night at least one SANCTUARY LAMP, for which olive oil or beeswax is used.” (Slight changes have been made since, but the essence applies as always.)
– Brepols, 1952

 

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