Did you know that each Catholic church building has certain visible elements? Can you name them?
1. The altar. It is from the altar that the sacraments of Jesus’ paschal mystery flow. There is a crucifix above the altar. Whereas the crucifix merely symbolizes the Cross, the altar is the Cross because Jesus truly, body, blood, soul and divinity, becomes present on it. The altar reminds us that the Mass is a sacrifice.
2. The chair, either the bishop’s chair in a cathedral or the presider’s chair in a parish church. It is the place where the bishop, priest or deacon, whoever is presiding at a particular liturgy, leads the assembly in prayer.
3. The tabernacle. This is where our Lord is reposed. It is where any unused consecrated hosts are placed after Mass so as to be available for worship and for distribution to the sick. The tabernacle should be situated in a place of great honor and foster adoration before the Lord.
4. The lecturn or ambo from which the Word of God is proclaimed and the Gospel preached.
5. The baptistry where baptisms are performed and people are reminded of their own baptisms.
6. A place for the sacrament of Reconciliation. The baptismal life requires penance, and thus each church has an appropriate place for the sacrament to be celebrated.
7. A place that invites the people to recollection and silent prayer.
8. A threshold through which we pass as we enter the building, that reminds us of our passing from the world of sin into a world of life. It should be open to all who sincerely seek to enter.
The next time you enter your local church building, look for these elements, and recall their spiritual significance.
God bless you all!