Built of Living Stones 22: Christ’s Presence in Sign and Symbol

Sections 22 through 26 look at “Christ’s Presence in Sign and Symbol.” First, BLS reiterates the well-known teaching on where to find Christ in the church:

§ 22 § In the liturgical assembly, Christ’s presence is realized* in all the baptized who gather in his name, in the word of God proclaimed in the assembly, in the person of the priest through whom Christ offers himself to the Father and gathers the assembly, in sacramental celebrations, and especially, in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. (GIRM 27) In building a house for the Church that is also the house of God on earth, all the expressions of Christ’s presence have prominence of place that reflects their proper nature. Among these, the eucharistic species is accorded supreme prominence. (Mysterium Fidei 39) From the very beginning of the planning and design process, parishes will want to reflect upon the relationship of the altar, the ambo, the tabernacle, the chair of the priest celebrant, and the space for congregation.

Two comments from me.

The starred note provides a very good brief summary of how the believer has experienced God’s presence. In full:

*From the creation of the world, God’s presence has been mediated through the very works of his hands (Rom 1:20). With the people of Israel, that presence was seen more clearly and even localized at first in the Tent of Meeting and later in the Temple. These were understood as the place or epiphany of God’s glory (the Shekinah) (Ex 40:34-35). In the New Testament, Christ comes to be seen as the complete and definitive epiphany of God’s glory (Jn 1:4; Heb 1:3, 10:5-7). The Church, the People of God, is the continued sacramental presence of Christ, and the new church building is the privileged place of this continued epiphany in the ongoing history of salvation.

This original text suggests the Church as a sacrament of Christ. How do you find that statement?

Another original statement, that it is important not only to consider the degree of honor accorded each of these aspects (altar, ambo, tabernacle, chair, and nave) but also how they relate in the larger “presentation” of the church building. Do you find that a sound expression of an essential point not covered in universal church teaching? Or something that can or should be skipped over?

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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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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