of the New Covenant is the Lord’s Cross,
the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the
center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under
sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the
People of God are invited.
In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also
the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen).
is to be situated “in churches in a most worthy
place with the greatest honor.”
The dignity, placing, and security of the
Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really
present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
), used in anointings as the sacramental
sign of the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is traditionally reserved and
venerated in a secure place in the sanctuary. The oil of catechumens and
the oil of the sick may also be placed there.
of the bishop (
) or that of the priest “should
express his office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer.”
): “The dignity of the Word of God requires the
church to have a suitable place for announcing his message so that the
attention of the people may be easily directed to that place during the
liturgy of the Word.”
The gathering of the People of God begins with Baptism; a church
must have a place for the celebration of
(baptistry) and for foster-
ing remembrance of the baptismal promises (holy water font).
The renewal of the baptismal life requires
then, must lend itself to the expression of repentance and the reception of
forgiveness, which requires an appropriate place to receive penitents.
A church must also be a space that invites us to the recollection
and silent prayer that extend and internalize the great prayer of the
Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To
enter into the house of God, we must cross a
symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world
of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a
symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is
journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their
Also for this reason, the Church is the house of
children, open and welcoming.
60 Cf. GIRM 259.
61 Paul VI,
AAS (1965) 771.
63 GIRM 271.
64 GIRM 272.