Built of Living Stones 72-73: Tabernacle

The bishops cite canon law to ensure that the tabernacle is one, worthy, suitable, etc.. And above all, safe:

§ 72 § The general law of the Church provides norms concerning the tabernacle and the place for the reservation of the Eucharist that express the importance Christians place on the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Code of Canon Law directs that the Eucharist be reserved “in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer.”(canon law 938 § 2) It directs that regularly there be “only one tabernacle” in the church.(canon law 938 § 1) It should be worthy of the Blessed Sacrament—beautifully designed and in harmony with the overall decor of the rest of the church. To provide for the security of the Blessed Sacrament the tabernacle should be “solid,” “immovable,” “opaque,” and “locked.”(canon law 938 § 3; Cf. GIRM 314) The tabernacle may be situated on a fixed pillar or  stand, or it may be attached to or embedded in one of the walls. A special oil lamp or a lamp with a wax candle burns continuously near the tabernacle as an indication of Christ’s presence.(HCWEOM 13)

A show of hands, please … how many of your parishes use an oil lamp? Note the emphasis on a wax candle, but not one with a red gloss.

§ 73 § The place of reservation should be a space that is dedicated to Christ present in the Eucharist and that is designed so that the attention of one praying there is drawn to the tabernacle that houses the presence of the Lord. Iconography can be chosen from the rich treasury of symbolism that is associated with the Eucharist.

Interesting that iconography is suggested. Probably one of the best choices, though that last sentence suggests to me the bishops are speaking more broadly in terms of art, rather than the Eastern tradition specifically.

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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