“We have moved the tabernacles at Gate of Heaven and Our Lady of Victory to the center. During this Year of Celebrating the Eucharist, we are striving to grow in our understanding and experience of the Eucharist in our lives. As we looked at how we would celebrate this year, the Evangelization Team looked at our sanctuaries and where the tabernacles were located in both churches. We had prayerfully decided we would bring the tabernacles back to the center of the churches behind the altars – placing Christ in the most prominent place in the sanctuary.
As the pastor, I announced this on the second week of Advent in December, 2017. In that homily, I reflected upon my experience of learning how to celebrate the Liturgy as a priest. I was taught that when I am praying as a priest during the Mass, people should know that ‘there is something more important and bigger than me’.
The tabernacle and the altar of God – these are two very sacred spaces in the sanctuary of our Church:
- The altar of God holds the central place in the sanctuary because it is where Jesus’ sacrifice on Calgary, that took place over two thousand years ago, is made present for us in an un-bloody manner during the Mass. The same Jesus Christ – who offered himself on the cross and physically suffered and shed his blood over two thousand years ago to redeem each one of us from sin – is the principal minister at the Mass. Through the ordained priest, Jesus offers his Body and Blood (under the sacramental appearances of bread and wine) to the Father for us. The redemptive graces that our Redeemer won on Calvary are applied to us if we worthily partake in his offering.
- The tabernacle is a special dwelling place of God among his people. We see this in the Old Testament with the Tent of Presence as Israel is traveling through the desert. Later, in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, God’s presence hovered over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. As Jesus Christ died on the cross, the curtain in the Temple that veiled the Holy of Holies is torn into two – signifying the presence of God among his people is found in Jesus Christ. In our Church tabernacle dwells the presence of God among his people – Jesus Christ –Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – in sacramental form. What remains of the hosts that were changed from bread into his Body at the Sacrifice of the Mass are reserved in our tabernacle to take to the sick and to be accessible for private prayer and adoration. The sanctuary lamp burns in honor of God’s presence with us. When we enter our Church and see the tabernacle of the Lord where Jesus Christ dwells in sacramental form, we know we are in the house of God – the Eternal is dwelling in time.
During this Year of Celebrating the Eucharist, we want to grow in realizing everything we do should point to our belief that Jesus Christ is the center and anchor of our lives. With the tabernacles in the center of the Church, the priest chairs will no longer be set higher in stature than the tabernacle and at the center of attention. A team of many people have worded to ensure that the changes are not extensive and that the beauty and sacredness of our churches will be maintained, while the true presence of Christ in the tabernacle will be in the foremost place in our church and our hearts.”
Rev. Daniel Toomey