Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

It begins with Reverence for the Holy Eucharist

July 13th, 2021, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It all begins with a deep reverence for the Holy Eucharist. It’s not about interior decorating. It’s not about a stage setting or theatrics. It’s not about pleasing an ‘audience.’ The subject ‘it’ is the transfer, i.e., the raising, of the Tabernacle to the highest point of reverence and centrality in the Church, and in our lives.

We have had some earlier articles on Cleansing Fire about elevating Tabernacles in various Churches (see *footnote below.) But after experiencing such changes first hand, in my own parish, it became noticeable how properly emphasizing the Eucharistic Presence in the Holy Tabernacle is a catalyst for even greater reverence!

For the last four years, St. Peter’s Parish, under the pastorship and commitment of Father Peter Van Lieshout, has thrived by growing into an even holier worship environment.  While true of all three churches which comprise St. Peter’s Parish, St. Dominic in Shortsville, St. Francis in Phelps, and St. Felix in Clifton Springs, it is St. Felix which completed the triad of each Tabernacle being raised to its rightful high and center position.

We look closer at St. Felix but, first, let’s summarize the change with ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, then add some details!


‘Before’ picture of St. Felix Sanctuary.



The picture above shows how the Sanctuary of St. Felix Church looked approximately two years ago. Note the small tabernacle under the Sacred Heart statue, an almost hidden bench under the crucifix, with a flower arrangement on the shelf behind the bench. The piano was then the only musical instrument at St. Felix.

‘After’ picture of St. Felix Sanctuary



The elevation of the Tabernacle led to creation of a proper altar for celebrating Mass ad orientem, whether for a Traditional Latin Mass or an ad orientem Novus Ordo.

And still there is enough space in the Sanctuary to celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass ad populum. (Celebrant facing the people.) That configuration can be seen in the live-streamed 8:00 AM Mass on Sundays, an accommodation added during the covid lockdown of 2020:


High altar, baldachin & reredos at St. Theresa Church before it closed.

Yet, as the above pictures show, there was opportunity to bring even more reverence to the holy space.

What had been a sadness for St. Theresa’s Church in Stanley, being closed and sold, led to gratitude in Clifton Springs when St. Theresa’s high altar was moved to St. Felix.  

And not only the high altar came from St. Theresa’s, but even the baldachin (roof-like structure over the altar; also called an ‘altar tester’) and reredos (wooden wall reaching from altar to baldachin) were included.

If one looks closely at the ‘after’ picture of the St. Felix Sanctuary, it is possible to see the cross structure from St. Theresa’s underlying the crucifix bearing the Corpus of Christ, already so precious to the St. Felix community.



“Treasure” found in Choir Loft 

Further, Father Van Lieshout found the old altar rail in the dusty choir loft of St. Theresa’s Church and rescued it from demolition.

He had that altar rail seriously polished, refurbished and re-installed at St. Felix.

The altar rail is now a gleaming tribute to increased reverence, and to the patronage of parishioner Doug Triplett.



The altar rail contributes to the sense of better defining the sacred space of the Sanctuary, being able to kneel before Christ Himself, and taking a few seconds after Communion to greet interiorly our Heavenly Guest.

The rail also helps those who need support in rising safely from kneeling, without compromising their reverence or giving up a lifelong practice as they age.


Other Projects and an Invitation

During this same period of time, St. Felix’s confessional space was also restructured for greater safety and privacy, and an organ added in the choir loft as well. Lest anyone think it is all and only about one church of the three parish churches, we note that all three added altar rails, and a major enhancement was completed of St. Dominic’s Sanctuary as well; but we will save that result perhaps for a future posting! You are warmly invited to come see this testimony of reverence!


Parishioners in all three of St. Peter’s Churches repeatedly express their gratitude to Father Van Lieshout for his pastoral leadership over his four years pastoring St. Peter’s Parish, yet with more than a touch of sadness as  His Excellency, Bishop Salvatore Matano, has recently named the new Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral — The Very Reverend Peter David Van Lieshout!

But the people of St. Peter’s Parish are still in excellent and very capable, caring hands, being ‘pastored’ by their new Parochial Administrator, Father Anthony Amato.


*Other posts and locations of reported restoration of the Tabernacle to a position of honor and respect on the high altar:

Cleansing Fire – Blessed Sacrament Returns to a Rightful Throne  (Assumption – Fairport)

Cleansing Fire – Returning the Blessed Sacrament to a Rightful Throne  (St. Mary’s – Canandaigua; St. Paul of the Cross – Honeoye Falls; St. Jerome’s – East Rochester; St. Theodore’s – Gates).


5 Responses to “It begins with Reverence for the Holy Eucharist”

  1. christian says:

    The new (restored) altar and tabernacle as well as the installed altar rail is a welcoming and inspiring action and site! I am glad this undertaking was done. Now, if only more churches would follow suit.

    I would have liked the back wall of the sanctuary around the main altar to have remained blue rather than the cream color it was painted. But everyone has different taste.

  2. Patriot23 says:

    I love the 3 churches of St. Peters. Father Peter Van Lieshout and the way he says the Mass is one reason. He and Father Amato both show great reverence for the Body and Blood of Jesus, in the Consecration and cleaning the Communion Vessels. Another reason I love St. Peters is the altar rails. I always want to receive the Eucharist on my tongue and kneeling, but kneeling on the floor for communion was becoming more painful. Thank you Father Van Lieshout that I no longer have to stand for Communion. I can show the Reverence Our Lord deserves.

  3. christian says:

    I hope Bishop Salvatore Matano will still allow the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Rochester. It has come as a heart-breaking announcement that Pope Francis has nixed Pope Benedict XVI’s previous church legislation to make the Traditional Latin Mass more accessible. I have respect for Pope Francis as his position as the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, BUT I am at odds with many of his declarations/decisions. While he thinks the Traditional Latin Mass has caused divides among the Faithful, I think the current occupant of the Chair of St. Peter has caused divides as well as confusion among the Faithful.

    Granted, some bloggers have gone overboard denouncing changes in church liturgy throughout the years, going so far as calling Vatican II a heresy. I do think the changes mentioned in Vatican II were interpreted in a very liberal and wide context, deviating from the original intention of having the laity more involved with apostolic ministry of the church as well as more involved with the liturgy of the Mass.

    I think it would be a good premise for those who support the Traditional Latin Mass to acknowledge the Spirit of Vatican II regarding more involvement of laity in the church’s mission while also preferring the Traditional Latin Mass as a personal preferred reverent liturgy of Mass.

    Hopefully, some of these outspoken blogger personalities will “cool-it” with their renunciation of Vatican II so as not to jeopardize access to the TLM in their Diocese as well as the greater Church.

  4. christian says:

    Here is Pope Francis’ Letter on restricting the Traditional Latin Mass. It has been translated into English:

  5. raymondfrice says:

    One of the problems that I see are the clergy who are appointed to a parish and act as though they own it. Instead of consulting with the members of the parish as to what they prefer that is in accordance with church norms, they go ahead and put up what is their norms. Many years ago priests put up horrendous examples of what they thought the church should be, and we were stuck with plastic bricks and crepe paper lilies. In Europe many of the churches are so very beautiful because the powers that be realize the the church is for the people and change should have good the good intention of bringing people closer to God!

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