This week, the church in Baltimore bid a fond farewell to our beloved Cardinal William Keeler. He led our archdiocese for the better part of two decades and was a prominent leader in the ecumenical movement. I first met him when I was a chaplain in the U. S. Navy. Home on leave for a week, I met him in his office where he was very gracious. I was particularly impressed at how good a listener he was. Although I know he was busy man, he gave me his full attention and seemed in no hurry for me to leave.
The second time, I remember, was after being named pastor to St. Agnes in Catonsville. He gave me three valuable pieces of advice: “Don’t make any major changes in your first year; get out and visit the shut-ins regularly; and let people see you praying in church.” I have tried to do that in both parishes I have been privileged to serve. I believe that advice has served me well.
It is poignant that the Cardinal’s funeral Mass take place this week, as we will hear on Sunday the gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). While Cardinal Keeler’s body will not be raised from the dead [until Jesus returns on the last day], we have hope and confidence that his soul will be raised up to heaven, if not immediately, then in the very near future. May he rest in peace.
“Sometimes, temptations are useful in making us recapture our lost sense of the Presence of God by means of an act of love or aspiration.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars
“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”Week 4: Tabernacle
Since there were no churches during those early centuries, Christians did not have a tabernacle. However, as we do today, they were careful to protect the Blessed Sacrament. There is some evidence that following their divine services, Christians took the consecrated bread home and consumed it during the week. By the fourth century, when construction of churches began, any reserved hosts were kept in various rooms in the church, including an area that became known as the sacristy. Theft, pilferage or worse was a serious threat, especially following the Protestant Reformation, when violence was carried out against the Catholic Church.
The design of the tabernacle slowly evolved, and by the 16th century tabernacles similar to those we have today were in use. Canon Law spells out the rules for the tabernacle location: “The tabernacle in which the Blessed Eucharist is reserved should be sited in a distinguished place in the church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitability adorned and conducive to prayer” (No. 938.2). As authorized by Church law, and approved by the local bishop, some churches use a separate chapel to house the tabernacle. The tendency today is to keep the tabernacle in proximity to the altar.
|The tabernacle in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located to the left of the altar.|
|The tabernacle in the lower church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located directly behind the altar.|
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***