Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Reordering Things (a little) At Sacred Heart

August 13th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

With a proposed ciborium

 (Click on pictures for larger images)

Presently, without a ciborium

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25 Responses to “Reordering Things (a little) At Sacred Heart”

  1. militia says:

    I thought this was a baldachin. What is the difference between a baldachin and a ciborium? I thought a ciborium was a sacred vessel to hold the Body of Christ. Obviously, I’m confused. Help, please!

  2. Persis says:

    Not too sure about this change, Bernie.

    I love the crucifix at the Cathedral. I was saddened when the organ was installed and it seemed to blend into the background and get lost. Pre-organ, when the the church was dark, except for special lighting in the sanctuary, the shadows cast by the crucifix were wonderfully and prayerfully thought-provoking. I spent many hours there, in quiet contemplation, and I miss it. I may not be able to see those shadows anymore, but at least I can see the crucifix, and my memories can do the rest.

    In your model, or at least in the picture, the ciborium would completely obsure the crucifix.

    My parents were married there in 1968, and my grandparents have been parishoners since 1962 so I do have some nostalgic feelings towards the Cathedral. I know the renovation is a very controversial subject. The church needed to be renovated though, and there are some things that I love, and others that I could do without.
    But that is a whole other ball of wax!! 😀

    I would have done things a bit differently, but alas, they didn’t ask me. 😉

  3. Bernie says:

    Persis: Thank for your comments.
    Yes the ciborium would obstruct, for the most part, a view of the crucifix. Actually, in my opinion, the rood beam makes little sense in the renovated cathedral as the chancel/altar is now at the crossing, in front of the beam. (But that’s just my opinion.) But, it is a lovely crucifix, to be sure!

  4. militia says:

    Yes, that is very helpful. Thank you.

  5. Dr. K says:

    I think it’s a good start but more needs to be done, in my opinion.

    Three significant issues still to be addressed:
    1. The present tabernacle placement is neither noble nor clearly visible
    2. The sanctuary is divided with the ambo and altar in separate sections of the church.
    3. The continued presence of fully mobile seating allows SHC to be used as a multi-purpose facility rather than exclusively a house of prayer.

    Below is my solution to some of these problems:

    Changes made:
    -A baldacchino above the altar.
    -The ambo has been moved from behind the altar over to the right side of the altar. Technically it is still “outside” the sanctuary, but this would be an improvement over what we have now.
    -All chairs in the center of the church have been replaced with pews. The chairs on the left and right sides remain for those who prefer that type of seating.
    -The crucifix has been removed from the beam and is now suspended above the baldacchino.
    -The tabernacle has been placed between the organ and altar inside the former sanctuary. Behind the tabernacle is a divider, possibly the one no longer being used at St. Michael (check the image below to see this arrangement in action). Some chairs with kneelers could be placed between the tabernacle and altar for private adoration outside Mass.

    I think these modifications are reasonable and fairly easy to accomplish. Thoughts?

  6. Bernie says:

    Dr. K:
    Very nice!!!

  7. monk says:

    Dr. K, the choir would then be moved to the original choir loft? Keep these suggestions and images to show to our new bishop.
    It is exciting to see what the future can hold for us. The Springtime is soon upon us!

  8. christian says:

    I like your proposal Dr. K. I prefer pews to movable chairs and did not like the removal of pews from Sacred Heart Cathedral. Pews are actually more comfortable, accommodate more people, are easier to get up from than a movable chair, allow for kneeling, and are more stationary, giving the proper message to the concept of a place consecrated to God and exclusive to worship. (I would make the worship area entirely pews).
    I liked the suspended crucifix on the beam, but now it is obscured by the magnificent pipes of that very grand and expensive organ which supplanted Catholic Education. You have to work with what you are given, and because the baldachin (or ciborium) would completely obscure the crucifix, your approach of suspending the crucifix above that area works well.
    I like the idea of a baldachin (or ciborium) in front of the organ pipes, it helps to give the sanctuary the proper identity as chapel/church. It also creates a better identity in the reflecting pool which is the baptismal font.
    I think the divider works very well as a backdrop to the tabernacle. It helps to highlight the tabernacle and it gives that place the due reverence it deserves.

    One question-why isn’t St. Michael Church using that divider anymore?

  9. christian says:

    Meanwhile, Mt. Carmel Church has been sold. We heard the news in church this morning from Deacon David Palmer. They are in the process of removing things and cataloging them. They will also have to make any repairs to the building which have occurred from years of disuse to the satisfaction of the buyer.
    Meanwhile, there was leakage of water from the ceiling of St. Andrew Church which had come down to the floor tiles near the front of the church. Parishioners had to avoid the water on the damaged floor. Deacon Palma informed us the leakage had occurred because of vandals (stripped copper off the roof which allowed leakage at pillars). Repairs will have to be done to make the building satisfactory for the buyer. The repairs will be covered by insurance.
    Meanwhile, vandals tried to steal the iron fence at St. Michael Church. They cut sections of the iron fence to haul away but were unable because of the weight of the iron. (Section estimated at 500 lbs.). Deacon Palma had to get a team of very strong men to pick up the sections of the fence to then store until those sections could be welded together and reinstalled.
    This was all in one week’s time!

  10. Persis says:

    I do not want to start a debate here, but actually my favorite part of the renovation is the chapel that the tabernacle is in. I find it to be a very peaceful place for quiet contemplation with our Lord, and a wonderful “waiting area” for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Which brings me to my 2nd favorite part of the renovation, I love what has been done with the “reconciliation rooms”. They are set up for either face-to-face or anonymous confession and I find them be to warm & inviting.

    As I have said, there are somethings that I don’t like, but I am also adamantly opposed to spending any more money on this. I think any money that could be spent making the sanctuary “more acceptable” to some would be much better spent on proper catechesis programs for all ages!

    Just my 2 cents!! 😉

  11. Dr. K says:

    One question-why isn’t St. Michael Church using that divider anymore?

    The tabernacle has been restored behind the altar at St. Michael. The divider could easily be brought over to SHC for use there.

  12. christian says:

    Thanks for the answer Dr. K.

  13. The Egyptian says:

    Why not the goal of “restoration” and put the organ and choir back where it belongs, the rest simply follows to the restoration of proper worship.

    One of the small country churches out here was forced to move the organ console back to the loft since every applicant for the open position of organist refused to be up front where everyone could see every move. So very nice to remove that distraction from the sanctuary and the music has improved too boot, last organist was a shrill voiced showoff with very little talent and tried to compensate with flair. Much improvement when the organist concentrating on her music instead of appearance

  14. annonymouse says:

    I don’t mean to rain on the parade (actually I do)-

    but I really doubt the new bishop is going to change the Cathedral much at all. I can’t imaging that the organ, poorly placed as it is, is going anyplace. Too costly to move it. I could see some sort of screen being placed in front of it, though, at least up 10-15 feet. That would be my preference.

    The tabernacle is fine where it is today. It is in a prominent place which is much more conducive to private prayer than any of the alternatives that have been suggested. Its current placement is liturgically correct, following the guidelines.

    I am not personally fond of the ambo behind the altar, but there is nothing wrong with that that I’m aware of. I also cannot imagine moving it out where Dr. K suggests.

    The Cathedral is actually a quite beautiful worship space, in my opinion (the placement of the organ notwithstanding). The centrality of the Eucharist is emphasized with the centrally-placed, beautiful and very substantial altar.

    I think it’s important to differentiate between one’s own personal preferences and the Church’s guidelines that are to be followed. To my knowledge, these guidelines were adhered to in the renovation design, so everything else, I’m afraid, is personal preference.

  15. Dr. K says:

    You’re making me gag here when you call that kitchen counter we have as an altar “beautiful.”

    Our Cathedral is a disgraceful monument to modernism and over-simplicity. The significant decline in attendance since the renovation as well as the fervent fight that was waged to prevent it suggest that many more disprove of this new design than support it. I know I will never set foot in that building again until something is done to fix it.

  16. Dr. K says:

    “§ 54 § The sanctuary is the space where the altar and the ambo stand, and “where the priest, deacon and other ministers exercise their offices.”
    “§ 55 § The principal ritual furnishings within the sanctuary are the altar on which the eucharistic sacrifice is offered, the ambo from which God’s word is proclaimed, and the chair of the priest celebrant.”
    (Built on Living Stones, USCCB)

    Not just altar, not just ambo, but both.

  17. Bernie says:

    There are several things to be unhappy about the restoration -several important things. Nothing really needed to be changed to bring the cathedral “into line with Vatican II.” The deed, however, has been done. It’s a shame, but there it is.

    My objective in this post was to show a design in which the organ’s dominance could be reduced and the altar’s importance increased. A prominent ciborium or baldacin would reduce the visual dominance of the organ while refocusing attention on the altar where it belongs. If the altar were significantly higher than it is now then we would have less of a problem -still a problem, but a little less so.

    Of course the visual diminution of the altar was deliberate, as was the dominant placement of the organ. It has been the stated purpose of liturgical consultants like Richard Vosko to de-sacralize, to one extent or another, the church building and to turn it into a mere meeting place. The dominance of a magnificent musical instrument over a minimalist altar precisely serves that purpose. This, of course, is not a Catholic attitude, but a Protestant one. Those responsible for the restoration accomplished exactly what they set out to do.

    So, things are not likely to change anytime soon if for no other reason than it would cost a load of money to do a restoration of the restoration. The addition of a ciborium, however, might be within reach both in terms of minimal negative reaction on the part of the liberals in the diocese and in terms financial costs.

    The current location of the tabernacle is well within both the tradition of the Church and in Liturgical directives. In fact, to move it back to a central location, now, may even be interpreted as a violation of directives. (In my opinion, the chapel is also a very fine design and includes a tabernacle of historical and inspirational importance.) I wish the tabernacle had never been moved from its central location, but it was.

    The ambo could probably stay where it is, too. Once again, there is much variety in our tradition concerning the placement of pulpits. There are some cathedrals with multiple pulpits (usually for different purposes) and many where they are placed halfway down one side of the nave, and at least one that I know of where the ambo is placed toward the end of the nave, nearer the doors than the altar. There are examples of ambos placed between the altar and the apse. In fact, ambos, have only relatively recently become part of the chancel. Normally they were placed outside the chancel railing. “Built of Living Stones”, however, would appear to mandate the placement of the ambo in the chancel. To some degree the current placement is at least visually associated with the altar. I don’t think the addition of a ciborium would significantly impede views of the ambo in its present location.

    Moving the ambo now would, once again, cost money. It really would only have to happen if the tabernacle were placed back in a central location.

    Anyway, I was proposing in this post a reordering of visual importance between altar and organ by the addition of a ciborium. I was restricting my suggestion to “a little” change.

  18. Bernie says:

    I want to add that I very much like Dr. K’s arrangement. I especially like the red color behind the tabernacle. If it were possible, I would really like to his suggestion implemented.

  19. christian says:

    I do not like the modernism of our times in demolishing and redesigning sanctuaries (wreckovation) of especially older churches. The wreckovations look completely out of place in the design of older church buildings. Wreckovations de-emphasize divinity, formality, and art, and emphasize the earthly, casual, and plain (bare). While I do not like the modern approach to designing new church buildings, (making them more informal and portable), or the wreckovations in churches which are relatively newer, I think it is an atrocity to paint over beautiful artwork and to ruin the beautiful altars and altar rails of older churches. One example – St. Mary’s Church Downtown. My maternal grandmother attended St. Mary’s School (graduated) and had her baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation at St. Mary’s Church. I attended noon mass there with friends at a much, much younger age when I was in the Downtown area. I was absolutely shocked and devastated to see the beautiful artwork on the ceiling painted over with white paint when I visited one Sunday morning. In fact, everything appeared to be painted over in white paint (“white-washed”). That church lost its feel and sense of identity. What I had marveled at in the past had become an unadorned living room. I never went back to attend mass there again.

    St. Mary’s Downtown should have taken lessons from St. Michael Church. I do not agree with taking out any of the altar railing, but St. Michael Church did a magnificent job in carrying out the new mandates while preserving the artistry and identity of that church.
    St. Mary’s Downtown should have taken lessons from SS. Peter and Paul Church. They also did a magnificent job in carrying out the new mandates while preserving the artistry and identity of that church. (I am glad that the Coptic Church who now owns that Church put back the missing sections of altar rail).
    Both Churches left in their High Altars and used coordinating materials with coordinating artwork for the new stationary altar facing the people. It works very well together and creates a pleasing look. When a High Altar is taken out of an old Catholic Church, it devastates the whole look of the entire church of that era and the sanctuary is left looking bare. The sanctuary is incongruent with the rest of the church building. And to do further damage to the church building in an attempt to make it fit in, would create a further barren look and travesty to the church building.
    Our Lady of Victory Downtown and Blessed Sacrament are other examples they should have taken lessons from in carrying out the new mandates while preserving the artwork and identity of their church.

    There are plenty of examples of whitewashing and demolitions of old churches that we could all call to mind. What a travesty to all the artisans who put all their time, effort, and talent to shine forth the Glory of God in His Holy Place and give inspiration to future generations.
    There are old Protestant churches who look more Catholic than the Catholic. There has been no movement or action to take away their centrally located altars/altar tables which are stationary and made of fine materials and artistically made. Their pews and pulpits are stationary also. Their partitions, usually made of fine cabinetry and often coordinating with their altar/altar table and pulpit, are stationary also. (There would be no room to put on a musical). There also has been no movement to paint over the beautiful and elaborate artwork on their walls or ceilings which include angels and inscriptions in Latin honoring God.

  20. christian says:

    Correction: – There are old Protestant churches which look more Catholic than the Catholic.

  21. Dr. K says:

    “In fact, to move it back to a central location, now, may even be interpreted as a violation of directives. “

    Not for Bishop D’Arcy (link):

    “In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Bishop has judged that the tabernacle is normally to be prominently located in the sanctuary of the church, along the central axis behind the main altar. … This prescription is to be observed in all future construction or restoration projects involving places of sacred worship (including all churches, oratories, and private chapels) in the Diocese. Any exception to this norm must be approved by the Diocesan Bishop, and must clearly demonstrate itself as a worthy alternative that would accentuate the sacramental nature of the church building and contribute to the spiritual life of the worshiping community. “

    The bishop even requested that tabernacles which had been moved off central locations should be restored if possible.

  22. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Why not make St Michael’s our cathedral and turn SHC into a concert hall and sell it to the Eastman?? lol

  23. Dr. K says:

    I personally would like to see that happen. The parking at St. Michael could be a major issue, even if some of the buildings were raised.

  24. Nerina says:

    Raymond, the first time I went to St. Michael’s this past spring to listen to an organ recital, I thought the same thing. What a jewel of a church St. Michael’s is!

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