Cardinal Dolan consecrating a wooden altar?!?


#1

I thought wooden altars, many emplaced after Vatican II, were phased out years ago. My bad. Are there any guidelines for the material out of which the altar is to be made? Thanks. Here's Cardinal Dolan anointing a wooden altar during the re-consecration of St. Francis Church/NY after renovation.

youtube.com/watch?v=sQEmO07DpaI


#2

GIRM 301:
[301.] In keeping with the Church’s traditional practice and with what the altar signifies, the table of a fixed altar should be of stone and indeed of natural stone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, wood which is dignified, solid, and well–crafted may be used, provided that the altar is structurally immobile. As to the supports or base for supporting the table, these may be made of any material, provided it is dignified and solid.

A movable [sic] altar may be constructed of any noble and solid material suited for liturgical use, according to the traditions and usages of the different regions.


#3

When reading Exodus and Leviticus, the instructions for construction of the Altars are for them to be constructed of Wood. (the instructions are far more specific than that).

Based on that it would seem strange to me for this material to be totally banned as I am unaware of any other devine revelation countermanding or superceding the descriptions in Leviticus.
Solomons temple also contained wooden altars.


#4

I would trust that the altar, although wooden, is noble for the liturgy. Here’s a photo of the wooden altar at my church, and it was just recently installed after employing a special craftsman to build it.


#5

I think the primary motive for using stone is durability as well as the ability to place relics inside of the stone. I have seen a few wooden altars in the area and all of these have stone set into the table (or underneath) to encase the relics.


#6

The use of wood still holds particular meaning in the East, given the linkage to the Cross.

Here's a fascinating video of Bishop Milan Šašić (Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo) blessing and consecrating a new wooden altar - an absolutely fascinating ritual, beginning at 5:40 of the video. It's interesting even if you don't understand a word of Ukrainian or Church Slavonic.

You will note the bored holes at the four corners of the altar, where relics will be placed.


#7

If you watch the video, you see that the altar being dedicated is a beautiful wood with carved designs.


#8

[quote="mfrances, post:7, topic:295966"]
If you watch the [OP] video, you see that the altar being dedicated is a beautiful wood with carved designs.

[/quote]

yet also can't help but notice the barefooted dancing incense bearer ... :confused:

BTW - isn't this the new house of worship of Katie Holmes?


#9

Sort of, Exodus 20 and Deut 27 commanded altars of earth and stone.

The altars of incense were of wood, while the altars of holocaust are of stone. As the altar of the new Testament is one of holocaust, stone is more appropriate, but it is not a Divine mandate, so wood may be used.

newadvent.org/cathen/01360a.htm


#10

[quote="ByzCathCantor, post:8, topic:295966"]
yet also can't help but notice the barefooted dancing incense bearer ... :confused:

[/quote]

Oh yeah ... and let's not forget that thin, diaphanous gown (or whatever it's supposed to be) she's wearing :eek: ... shades of that event in LAX a year or two back. :shrug: But am I surprised? :dts:


#11

[quote="Brendan, post:9, topic:295966"]
Sort of, Exodus 20 and Deut 27 commanded altars of earth and stone.

The altars of incense were of wood, while the altars of holocaust are of stone. As the altar of the new Testament is one of holocaust, stone is more appropriate, but it is not a Divine mandate, so wood may be used.]

[/quote]

Yes, but don't forget that the OT holocaust was an actual immolation by fire, so a wooden altar would certainly not have been appropriate (unless, I suppose, they intended to replace the altar each and every time).

As [post=9676406]ByzCathCantor[/post] rightly noted earlier, wood does have a special significance in the East and Orient. In the Syriac Churches (and I think this applies to the Copts as well), while the altar itself is normally made of stone, there is (well, at least there was in pre-conciliar days, although the Orthodox do still hold to this tradition) always a wooden board (called a tablitho and which is the equivalent of the Byzantine antimension or the Latin altar stone) inset in the top and upon which the Holy Sacrifice is offered.*

  • NB: While the Maronites did generally adopt the Latin custom of using an altar stone, it wasn't universal and so the tablitho was still seen, at least through the early 1970s.

#12

I had the pleasure and honor of being present when Bishop Minde of Kahama, Tanzania consecrated the altar of a new parish church (Holy Family in Kagongwa, Tanzania)
The Rite used was almost identical. The differences were that the relics (of +Maria Goretti) where placed in a slot under the main table, not in receptacles on the table itself.

In addition, the anointing was done by tzhe bishop alone, not with the assistance of the priests. The little crosses were ‘painted’ in each corner and the center of the altar.

Finally, a large brazier was brought with fire, and incense offered on the fire, as a link to the altar of the Old Testament.


#13

[quote="ByzCathCantor, post:8, topic:295966"]
yet also can't help but notice the barefooted dancing incense bearer ... :confused:

BTW - isn't this the new house of worship of Katie Holmes?

[/quote]

Brutal...


#14

[quote="Brendan, post:12, topic:295966"]
Finally, a large brazier was brought with fire, and incense offered on the fire, as a link to the altar of the Old Testament.

[/quote]

Irrespective of hw much they may like Cardinal Dolan, I couldn't imagine the NYFD giving their approval (no dispensation from the fire code).


#15

[quote="ByzCathCantor, post:14, topic:295966"]
Irrespective of hw much they may like Cardinal Dolan, I couldn't imagine the NYFD giving their approval (no dispensation from the fire code).

[/quote]

From what I understand, in most US churches, the fire is brought up in the thurible. It is part of the consecration Rite in Latin churches. The Africans really like their sacramental though, so they go all out :)

They went though a quart sized jar of incense in the process as well :)


#16

[quote="ByzCathCantor, post:8, topic:295966"]
yet also can't help but notice the barefooted dancing incense bearer ... :confused:

[/quote]

First, that's not dancing, it is incensing the congregation. While the NORM with a thurifer is to swing it three times, if she did so with an open bowl of incense she would dump burning embers on her face.

Since the GIRM establishes no norm for how the congregation is to be incensed, and given the extreme danger following the general practice would produce here, I see no reason to nit-pick over the method here used to incense the congregation.

As to the barefoot part: I'm a bit confused by this as well, but I'm also not totally ready to rule out the possibility that she's wearing some sort of strappy sandal as well. She's in the video too briefly and the video is displayed in too low of a resolution to determine for sure that she indeed IS barefoot. If she is, I'd hesitate to say that's a mistaken gesture of reverence, since the west generally does not consider removing shoes to be a sign of respect any more.

[quote="malphono, post:10, topic:295966"]
Oh yeah ... and let's not forget that thin, diaphanous gown (or whatever it's supposed to be) she's wearing :eek: ... shades of that event in LAX a year or two back. :shrug: But am I surprised? :dts:

[/quote]

Diaphanous is characterized by it's see-through nature. Since this dress is not see through, it is not "diaphanous". Furthermore, it's apparent what it's supposed to be: a dress with a white shawl over the top. This woman is wearing ENTIRELY appropriate clothing of completely modest appearance (even going so far as to wear something which is NOT form fitting so as to avoid showing off her figure)... so why nit-pick her clothing, which by all estimates from the people who generally complain on this forum about immodest dress is a paradigm of what womens' mass clothing SHOULD look like?


#17

[quote="Actaeon, post:16, topic:295966"]
First, that's not dancing, it is incensing the congregation. While the NORM with a thurifer is to swing it three times, if she did so with an open bowl of incense she would dump burning embers on her face.

[/quote]

Except that the Ceremonial of Bishops (which covers the additional rubrics of Mass with a bishop present) - #149 indicates that it is the Deacon who should be doing the incensing.

I did not watch the video with the intent of identifying a deacon, but if one was present, he should be doing the incensing.

When I was in Tanzania, the incensing was done by one of the our parish deacon, who was also present for the consecration.


#18

[quote="Brendan, post:17, topic:295966"]
Except that the Ceremonial of Bishops (which covers the additional rubrics of Mass with a bishop present) - #149 indicates that it is the Deacon who should be doing the incensing.

I did not watch the video with the intent of identifying a deacon, but if one was present, he should be doing the incensing.

When I was in Tanzania, the incensing was done by one of the our parish deacon, who was also present for the consecration.

[/quote]

That point is slightly mitigated by the GIRM in 214 (and the GIRM is a more recent publication than the ceremonial of bishops), wherein it states that for concelebrated masses the preparation of the gifts is to be celebrated according to GIRM 139-146, which makes no reference to a deacon or separate incensing of the concelebrants. (source)

To be sure, the GIRM does not state that it supercedes elements of the Ceremonial of Bishops, so there is some ambiguity, but if one were to be strictly following the GIRM, a deacon is not required for incensing (but IS the logical/required? choice if one is present). So essentially, I agree with you on this point! :D


#19

[quote="Actaeon, post:16, topic:295966"]
First, that's not dancing, it is incensing the congregation.

[/quote]

Sorry - not used to seeing semi-clad, barefoot women incensing a congregation. On this side of the aisle (in the East), that is done by an ordained cleric, fully vested, with shoes (unless we are a really poor parish).


#20

[quote="nordskoven, post:1, topic:295966"]
I thought wooden altars, many emplaced after Vatican II, were phased out years ago. My bad. Are there any guidelines for the material out of which the altar is to be made? Thanks. Here's Cardinal Dolan anointing a wooden altar during the re-consecration of St. Francis Church/NY after renovation.

youtube.com/watch?v=sQEmO07DpaI

[/quote]

There is still a marble altar behind wooden one. Perhaps the wooden altar is made to be light and removable for Ad Orientem celebrations?


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