Hello everyone. I watched a video on youtube from this young Franciscan Friar whose youtube channel is called “Breaking in the Habit.” I commented on one of his videos that a church that he was going to speak in was, well, ugly and looked like a whitewashed protestant church. And as is sadly the case with many of these churches, the Tabernacle was not in the middle. To make a long story short, in our conversations he told me that the tabernacle was not placed in the center of the altar until medeval times and that in the early days the priest faced the people rather than east or liturgical east. Can someone point me to links that prove that the tabernacle was in the center of the sanctuary and that the priest from earliest times faced east? Here is one of his responses to me:
I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. I said nothing about putting the priest at the center (although, if I did, I think the letter to the Hebrews and the book of Revelation, both of which describe our early worship, would agree with me. The priest, in persona Christi, is the center of the worship. But that’s neither here nor there.) What I am saying is that the sacrifice taking place–not some sacrifice that took place yesterday and is being held for the sick–is the central purpose of the mass.
I’m not really sure what you’re getting at with traditions as the tabernacle only became a central feature of churches in the middle ages, as with “ad orientem.” It should also be pointed out that “ad orientem” does not mean “facing the tabernacle” or “back to the people,” but obviously, “to the east.” This idea only applies to some churches as it was not always the practice to build a church facing east. St. Peter’s in Rome, for example does not face east.
I recommend, truly, that when we start using the word “tradition” as an argument, we use it to mean something more than just “medieval” or “baroque.” Our tradition dates back much farther than these recent times, and there is a whole rich (and varied) history that has accommodated many different traditions. We are the “catholic” Church, a Church that recognizes the universality of our faith, that it cannot be held to a particular custom or culture, and throughout our history our worship has taken many different forms.
Thanks in advance.