I know a couple of churches where thay are in use. The church of Saint John Southworth at Salmesbury, Preston, UK, replaced the high altar over 10 years ago and the priest celebrates the OF ad orientam. The altar rails ae also in place. Also, the church of the Holy Name in Manchester, England uses the original high altar, al Masses are ad orientam, and the original communion rails are still in place - and in use, most people receive kneeling.
They were much less expensive to remove than they would be to re-install, I doubt many parishes would care to take on the cost. The OF church I occasionally attend has been remodeled in such a fashion that neither a high altar nor altar rail are feasible. Their removal is a crime in my mind both for the loss of some really wonderful religious art and the irreversible nature of the action.
Unless a endowment was provided to specifically install a high altar the cost may be prohibitive to the Pastor.
I have personally seen a Church and a Chapel that have installed a existing High altar
, Absolutely Beautiful, moved from a closed location within the past year!
I think that the altar rails will not be reinstalled until the norms for Holy Communion are changed.
At the parish were I attend mass with my Catholic wife, the high altar and the marble communion rails are still in place. It’s not the most affluent parish around. If they had the money, someone would probably want to “modernize” it. I agree…it’s a crime.
The Church teaches through sign and Symbol.
Both the High Altar and rails represented a seperation of the faithful from the sacrafice of the mass and a seperartion from Christ. Only preist and clergy could pass throught the rails, and never women except for marriage and cleaning.
Jesus came to be amoung us, not to be away from us.
Jesus isn’t just our buddy. He’s also our King and God… the Living God Himself. It is important to show our reverence and respect, especially for His True Presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Jesus is our Friend. But let us not forget the miracle of the Holy Sacrifice, and our reverence for the Infinite God.
We show reverence and respect to our King by following his words and actions.
The reason for the development of the high altar was for optical communion with Christ in a time when the faithful did not recieve the Eucharist on a regular basis.
When Christ said to let the children come to him when the apostles tried to keep them away gives us a understanding of what his love is ment to be. Not a far off king on a high altar and sepeated, but near to us and in us.
That is a false doctrine based on a false dichotomy.
We come to Jesus to receive His Most Precious Body and Blood. No one is denied to opportunity to come before Him, as long as they are properly disposed (and no one is denied the opportunity to become properly disposed). But as He is our King, we must kneel before Him and show Him proper reverence.
Under the appearance of bread and wine, our God is a hidden God. Thus it is right that we show our faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist by keeping His Tabernacle in a central place, by kneeling and showing reverence, and by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a manner which faces Him.
The Church practiced as a matter of course that the only ones worthy to enter into sactuary were clergy. The message seems clear, the ordinary man and women were not worthy to enter. The faithful were observers and not particiapants. Even the ringing of the bells at the point of consecration was to get the faithfull’s attentention that this was important.
In the Eastern Orthidox tradition there is still this seperation, not with a rail but a wall.
These things harken back to the Jewish temple and the Holy of Holys were God presided and only the high preist could enter.
At our Lord’s death the veil of the temple was torn into. God is now accessible to all. Our worship spaces need to reflect this theology.
The focus of the mass is on the word and on the sacrafice, which is represented by the altar and not the tabernacle. Thus the preist reverences the altar.
It was the case that the faithful were denied the Eucharist on a regular basis before the 20th century. It was the reason for optical communnion, waht we call adoration. The high altars were built with a shelf above the tablernacle, so that after the mass was celebrated the precious body was placed in the monstace and placed upon it. The high altars as a result got more and more elaberate.
With the pope’s decree at the beginingb of the last century that the faith full be recieving the precious body on a regular basis, the reason for the need of the high altar no longer existed.
So to answer the original post, it is very unlikely that they will ever return.
Yes, the temple curtain was rent. And whether or not one wishes to accept it, God has always been accessible to all. Neither point bears on this thread. Even less does the pejorative and totally inappropriate remark about the iconistatis or altar curtain in the East and Orient (which, BTW, are not only used by the Orthodox).