This afternoon I bought a volume containing the Vatican II Conciliar and Post-Conciliar documents. As I was perusing it, I noticed one thing in particular that troubles me.
In the document “Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery” (S.C.R., *Eucharisticum Mysterium, *25 May, 1967), paragraph #53 The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, states,
The place in a church or oratory where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle should be truly prominent. It ought to be suitable for private prayer so that the faithful may easily and fruitfully, by private devotion also, continue to honor our Lord in this sacrament. It is therefore recommended that, as far as possible, the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the middle or central part of the church, above all in those churches where marriages and funerals take place frequently, and in places which are much visited for their artistic or historical treasures.
So . . . that would seem to indicate that the tabernacle should not be in the middle of the sanctuary, behind the altar.
However, *the very next paragraph, *#54. The Tabernacle in the Middle of the Altar or in Some Other Part of the Church states,
The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a solid, inviolable tabernacle in the middle of the main altar or on a side altar, but in a truly prominent place. Alternatively, according to legitimate customs and in individual cases to be decided by the local ordinary, it may be placed in some other part of the church which is really worthy and properly equipped. Mass may be celebrated facing the people even though there is a tabernacle on the altar, provided this is small yet adequate.
THIS seems to indicate that the tabernacle SHOULD be in the middle, behind (or on) the altar. So which is it–in the middle of the church, or in another part of the church?? I’m sure I’m misunderstanding this, but how? IMO, JESUS should be in the very center, right behind the altar! Unless it is a big cathedral or something, not in some chapel (which usually turns out to be a closet in an obscure part of the church that people will walk right past without paying attention). And He definitely shouldn’t be put in some side altar. I mean, shouldn’t our attention be directed towards our Eucharistic Lord who is in the tabernacle. This is God we’re talking about–you’d think He should have pride of place in His own house.
To paraphrase Mother Angelica, it’s like if you went to someone’s house and asked where their husband was, and they said “Oh, he lives in the garage.” When I enter a church, I want to know where JESUS is. Why do they hide the tabernacle and put some chair up there? Who wants to look at a chair?
Now I know this thread is lengthy, but one more thing–I need help understanding Vatican II. Soo. . . is there a difference between the “Lumen Gentium” type documents and the disciplinary type document such as I cited above? And what is the difference?