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306

Part Two

1182

The

altar

of the New Covenant is the Lord’s Cross,

59

from which

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.

60

In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also

the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen).

1183

The

tabernacle

is to be situated “in churches in a most worthy

place with the greatest honor.”

61

The dignity, placing, and security of the

Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really

present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

62

The

sacred chrism

(

myron

), 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.

1184

The

chair

of the bishop (

cathedra

) or that of the priest “should

express his office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer.”

63

The

lectern

(

ambo

): “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.”

64

1185

The gathering of the People of God begins with Baptism; a church

must have a place for the celebration of

Baptism

(baptistry) and for foster-

ing remembrance of the baptismal promises (holy water font).

The renewal of the baptismal life requires

penance.

A church,

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

Eucharist.

1186

Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To

enter into the house of God, we must cross a

threshold,

which

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

eyes.”

65

Also for this reason, the Church is the house of

all

God’s

children, open and welcoming.

59 Cf.

Heb

13:10.

60 Cf. GIRM 259.

61 Paul VI,

Mysterium Fidei:

AAS (1965) 771.

62 Cf.

SC

128.

63 GIRM 271.

64 GIRM 272.

65

Rev

21:4.

617, 1383

1379

2120

1241

1348

103

2717

1130