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'Quick Help' Page: Removal Of Side Altars

 

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Why have side altars been taken out of churches?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

The removal of side altars in recent years – like many other unfortunate things which have occurred since Vatican II – may ultimately be attributed to liberals / modernists (called the "worst enemies of the Church" by Bl. Pope Pius IX). Vatican II itself did not call for such destruction, but many things were affected by the so-called 'spirit of Vatican II' (a 'spirit' sometimes at odds with the actual text of Vatican II documents). Sadly, many of these priceless altars were destroyed and treated shamefully (I recall a picture of one altar stone in a driveway). Also, their removal results in many lost graces (as fewer Masses are said).

If you are looking for a more specific reason for the destruction of side altars, I would say it is because modernists want you to view Mass as a communal gathering, a "meal" if you will, rather than a holy sacrifice – the very re-presentation of Calvary. Let's not forget that altars are for sacrifice, whereas tables are for eating (does the 'altar' at your parish better resemble an altar or a table?). Modernists also do not want a single church to have, say, three separate 'meals' going on at once. They certainly do not want a Mass with few to no people (which could be far more common with, say, three altars in one church – e.g. private Masses said at side altars) since they over-emphasize community. Further, there is an ecumenical dimension to this matter – they want to please Protestants, who are offended by the traditional (and true) Catholic doctrine concerning the Mass.

Perhaps you may find the following quote helpful...

"The august [Eucharistic] Sacrifice of the Altar is concluded with communion or the partaking of the divine feast. But, as all know, the integrity of the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice only requires that the priest partake of the heavenly food. Although it is most desirable that the people should also approach the holy table, this is not required for the integrity of the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice. We wish in this matter to repeat the remarks which Our predecessor Benedict XIV makes with regard to the definitions of the Council of Trent: 'First We must state that none of the faithful can hold that private Masses, in which the priest alone receives Holy Communion, are therefore unlawful and do not fulfill the idea of the true, perfect and complete unbloody sacrifice instituted by Christ our Lord. For the faithful know quite well, or at least can easily be taught, that the Council of Trent, supported by the doctrine which the uninterrupted tradition of the Church has preserved, condemned the new and false opinion of Luther as opposed to this tradition.' 'If anyone shall say that Masses in which the priest only receives communion, are unlawful, and therefore should be abolished, let him be anathema.' They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive Holy Communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is question not of a [Eucharistic] sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration. Now it cannot be over-emphasized that the Eucharistic Sacrifice of its very nature is the unbloody immolation of the divine Victim [Christ], which is made manifest in a mystical manner by the separation of the sacred species and by their oblation to the eternal Father. Holy Communion pertains to the integrity of the Mass and to the partaking of the august Sacrament; but while it is obligatory for the priest who says the Mass, it is only something earnestly recommended to the faithful." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Also, please note that the rejection of side altars has been condemned by the Church...

"The proposition of the synod enunciating that it is fitting, in accordance with the order of divine services and ancient custom that there be only one altar in each temple, and therefore, that it is pleased to restore that custom, [is condemned as] rash, injurious to the very ancient pious custom flourishing and approved for these many centuries in the Church, especially in the Latin Church." (Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Condemned in the Constitution "Auctorem fidei," Aug. 28, 1794 A.D.)

For additional reflections on altars, please try here.


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