Thursday, May 05, 2005
My parish has really decorated the sanctuary this Easter with more plants and flowers than ever before. The funny thing is that right in back of the altar, in the center is an arrangement of big plants with flowers all around them. The tabernacle is to the right, as it has been since our Church was renovated. These flowers and plants with candles on either side are now the focus of attention. This arrangement has taken the place of a high altar and tabernacle, it even looks to me like a high altar or how a high altar would be decorated for Easter. Our parish sometimes puts wreaths on the walls down the center of the Church, or in Advent, banners with the “O Antiphons”. These wreaths and banners are placed between the stained glass windows kind of where statues or icons of saints would be. I once walked into a parish where the two alcoves on either side of the back wall of the sanctuary had potted plants on a shelf. These alcoves were obviously built for Mary and Joseph and it was jarring to see the plants because my mind immediately pictured Mary and Joseph. I think what happens here is that Catholics have a notion of how a Church should be setup and are decorating them in an “old-fashioned” way perhaps without even realizing it. Something tells people (probably ladies of the parish) that the main focus should be in the back center of the altar and that something should be on either side, and something should be on the walls down the center of the Church. Even though our Churches have been renovated and changed, our minds still point us to the traditional arrangements. I know my mind is telling me the tabernacle should be in the center at the back of the sanctuary on a high altar, with Mary and Joseph on either side, and saints on the walls. I wonder if the people doing the decorating think like me, or if they just do this subconsciously?