GIRM 299: Placing the Altar

A short, but for traditionalists, a controversial section:

299. The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns.[Inter Oecumenici 91] The altar should usually be fixed and dedicated.

The desirability of celebrating Mass facing the people is less for any personal connection between the priest and people–though communication would seem to indicate that it is important for the words to be clear and audible. We covered this point nearly five years ago in this post. Visibility of the rites for the laity seems to be the prime concern. Or if you prefer, “active participation,” which doesn’t only mean saying, singing, and doing things. Seeing things. Reflecting on things. A visual connection with the Real Presence: this is very old.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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